Alcohol And Weight
eDiets - The online diet, fitness, and healthy living resource
Sure there are light beers and
low-cal mixers, but the bottom line is this: if ya choose to booze while you
diet, the odds are you won't lose your extra weight.
Hey, Mr. Bad Food would love to raise a
glass and toast the fact that drinking and dieting can comfortably co-exist
(especially at holiday time). But take it from a guy who's been there, done
that: drinking raises your daily caloric intake while it lowers your
inhibitions and you tend to graze more than you should at the buffet.
Who amongst us hasn't gone out on the town
with every intention to eat light so we could sip a few drinks and not blow our
diet? Raise your glasses... um, I mean arms. Just as I thought. Now, how many
of us have ended up having those few drinks, then tossed all caution to the
wind and wound up eating far more than we intended?
Ladies and gentlemen, there's no reason to
beat yourself up over a booze-fueled eating binge. The simple fact is alcohol
weakens our willpower to the point we can convince ourself one more wing or
scoop of cheese dip won't matter. I used to scoff when the eDiets professionals
would write columns warning that it isn't the drink or two that's the
problem... it's the melting of resolve that follows those drinks that derails
many a well-intentioned dieter.
After one too many mornings awakening
with crumbs in my beard or fast food wrappers in my car, I now stand before you
and say... IT'S TRUE! By far the best bet to stay the course and keep our
calorie-intake intact during this holiday season -- and the happy new year
ahead -- is to forego the booze-based drinks.
OK, I can hear the moaning and groaning
from all you doubters. Most of us want to have our drink and diet too. The
choice is yours, but before you pooh-pooh my point, indulge me by drinking in
these facts about your favorite drinks:
- The experts will tell you that
drinking alcohol is not associated with weight gain. However, when consumed in
excess it can increase your weight. Any form of alcohol is a "calorie-dense"
food. At seven calories per gram, it packs almost twice as many calories as
either carbohydrate or protein. This means a 12-ounce beer will provide 132 to
168 calories, a 5-ounce glass of wine has 85 to 145 calories and 1.5 ounces of
liquor has 124 calories. Mix a 6-ounce non-diet carbonated drink to your
whiskey and you add another 75 calories. This alone is a serious obstacle when
youre trying to lose weight but those bowls of chips and nuts can also be
made more tempting when your inhibitions are down.
- A 5-ounce glass of wine has as much
alcohol as a 1.5-ounce shot of 80-proof spirits or one 12-ounce beer. So a
glass of white wine will have the same effect as straight scotch or a beer.
Your brain cannot tell the difference. Alcohol is alcohol is alcohol!
- The term "light" intends to signify
a product with slightly less alcohol and fewer calories than regular beer. In
the process of producing a light beer, sugar, which also provides the flavor,
is turned to alcohol so there is actually an increase in alcohol content and a
reduction in flavor. The beer is then diluted to make the alcohol content
slightly lower than regular beer. You end up with a weak-flavored, lower
calorie beer with almost the same alcohol content and hence the same "kick" as
regular beer. If you think you are going to stay sober choosing a light beer,
think again! You are just foregoing taste for a few calories.
- Coffee, as well as a cold shower or
exercise, cannot rid your system of alcohol. The caffeine in coffee is a
stimulant, so you may feel more alert, but your judgment, vision, hearing,
concentration, coordination and muscular activity will remain impaired. It
really only makes for a nervous, wide-awake drunk. Only time can sober up an
individual. It takes about an hour and a half to eliminate a standard glass of
an alcoholic drink regardless of age, sex and size.
- Food and milk do not prevent the
absorption of alcohol, but they do slow the passage of alcohol from the stomach
to the small intestine. This means that alcohol "goes to the head" more slowly
if one has just eaten or if one eats while drinking.
- Alcohol has more of an effect on
women than men, so there is a lower recommended intake of one drink per day for
women, compared to two drinks per day for men. Women have a smaller body size
and contain less water so they will develop a higher blood concentration of
alcohol and become drunk more quickly than a man of the same weight who drinks
the same amount.
My friend Susan Burke, the director of
nutrition here at eDiets, says, "Here's a toast to your health: Let's all party
hearty, but wisely. Celebrate not only in moderation, but also with drinks
lower in calories.
"The beverages you choose to imbibe can
make the difference between a memorable occasion and a time youll come to
regret. Even during winter, Pina Coladas are a favorite. But one of these
coconutty concoctions will set you back a belt-loosening 520 calories and 12
grams of fat! Too many Pina Coladas and you'll start looking more and more like
"So when it's time for another round why
not opt for a much more healthy Bloody Mary or even a gin and tonic? With about
125 calories and less than one gram of fat for a tall one, you can shout 'sip,
sip, hooray' and not have to worry about hip expansion!
"But, beware of Bloody Mary mix. If
youre watching your sodium this is not a good choice! There are about
1,440 milligrams of sodium in just four ounces of mix! So mix your rum with a
diet soda, or if you prefer, vodka with club soda and lots of lime! Champagne
and wine has about 80 calories per four ounces and beer has about 160 calories
per 12 ounces. A light beer only has about 100 calories.
"If you prefer a steaming concoction to
take off the chill, you probably will find yourself bundled up near the
fireplace with a hot drink in hand. But be warned: That hot toddy or Irish
coffee can send your healthy diet downhill... fast. One Irish coffee has at
least 240 calories and 11 grams of fat. So why not warm up with a tall
cappuccino made with non-fat milk? It has no fat and only about 40 calories.
You won't feel bad about adding a teaspoon or two of sugar -- they're just 16
Perhaps the best example of a drink unique
to this time of year is egg nog. Unfortunately, the traditional rendering, with
about 325 calories and 20 grams of fat per glass, is hardly worth celebrating
Heres news deserving of applause --
those enterprising commercial dairy producers now offer a fat-free variety of
non-alcoholic egg nog. So you take in fewer calories (about 100 per cup) and
zero fat, while you reap the nutritional benefits of this creamy drink, getting
about 400 milligrams of calcium per cup. Thats almost half the 1,000
milligram recommended daily amount of calcium for adults 18 years and
Sip a glass of rich-tasting, fat-free egg
nog sprinkled with additional cinnamon or nutmeg, if desired. Or try it in this
recipe for instant holiday flair:
Egg Nog Smoothie: Combine 1/2 cup
fat-free egg nog, 1/2 cup crushed ice and 1/2 banana in a blender; puree until
smooth. (180 calories, 0g fat, 39g carbohydrate, 6g protein, 1g fiber)
Well, I hope Mr. Bad Food hasn't rained on
your holiday parade. Please go out and celebrate a new year and a new you as
you see fit. Happy holidays everyone... cheers!
'BIG FOOD' FEEDBACK
Wow... when we raised the issue of "Big
Food" being big trouble for the masses, we never anticipated the onslaught of
emails we'd receive. Here are a few of your thoughts on this emotional
What is wrong with America? Suing the food
industry is crazy. I can (and do) say "NO" when asked if I want my food "Biggie
sized". I order what I know is healthy or I order what I know is unhealthy but
I still want. Yes I am overweight. Yes I struggle every day with food. Yes I
would like to have nutritional information more readily available. BUT I AM AN
INTELLIGENT PERSON. I can and do make decisions for myself and I accept
responsibility for my actions. The idea of blaming someone else for my extra
pounds is ludicrous. Get real!!
I couldn't agree more with Mr. Bad Food!
This really strikes a nerve with me. I am an aspiring nutritionist and recently
read the book Fast Food Nation. Boy, what an eye-opener. I always knew
fast food was bad, but I was appalled to learn just how far the fast food
giants will go to lure us in. Particularly disturbing was the fact that they
have discovered an easy way into our pocket books -- our children. They have
targeted their marketing toward children and sadly it is working! I truly
believe that fast food is the root of all obesity today. It's too easy, too
high fat, and I think it promotes a sedentary lifestyle. The worst part is that
they know it and they are pushing this lifestyle on our kids. Contradictory to
popular opinion, I applaud the recent legal action against McDonald's. If we
will just look at the bigger picture, this will bring awareness to the issue
and begin to put pressure on the fast food industry to provide healthier
alternatives. Although I really don't know the parent's motives, I do
understand the overwhelming peer pressure that kids must feel to go to these
places. And when they get there, what choices do they have? Well, thank you for
letting me vent. The fast food industry cares little about us and a lot about
money at the sake of our health.
A woman sues for spilling hot coffee on
herself... a fat kid and mother sues for him eating a hamburger a day. The
world is going crazy with this suing and people on the jury are giving it to
them. Yes, I'm fat too but I know what is good for me and what is bad.
I find it next to impossible to go out to
eat any more. After taking a major look at what I was eating and making an
effort to become more nutritionally educated, I managed to lose 30 pounds. When
my family and I try to have a Friday evening out, finding healthy, low-fat
items on the menu is like finding a needle in a haystack. I cringe now whenever
I even drive by a McDonald's, Burger King or Taco Bell. Thanks for letting me
get that off my chest.
ETC., ETC., ETC.
Until next week, the fridge door is closed.
But if you have any questions and/or comments -- or a tasteful joke to share --
feel free to write me, eDiets editor-in-chief John McGran, at