Blue Sky MD | How Alcohol Intake Effects Weight Loss

How Alcohol Intake Effects Weight Loss

If you are trying to lose weight, you can improve your efforts by cutting back on alcoholic drinks.   While you may not need to cut out all alcohol in order to see weight loss, it is advised to make some changes.  There are essentially two main reasons alcohol can lead to weight gain. First, alcohol tends to be high in calories.  Some types of mixed drinks can contain as many calories as a meal, without any beneficial nutrients. Second, we are more likely to make poor food choices when we drink.  Drinking can lower your awareness, which can lead to an increase in mindless eating. While sober, you may be able to realize when you are full. However, after consuming a few drinks, it’s more difficult to read signs of fullness.  We often end up eating when we are not hungry.

If you decide to drink alcohol, how much can you have if you are trying to lose weight?  Health experts agree that consuming alcoholic drinks should be done so in moderation. So, what does this mean?  This is no more than 1 drink per day for women and no more than 2 drinks for men. However, if you are trying to lose weight, you may want to consume less than that.  Alcohol is basically empty calories. This means that the calories have no nutritional benefit to your body. Alcohol has 7 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram for protein and carbohydrates.  If you decide to drink alcohol, you must plan it into your daily calorie count so you do not go over. However, you need to be careful when doing this, as you are replacing healthy foods, with empty calories that will not help to keep you full.  

Here are examples of calories found in common drinks:

DRINK SIZE CALORIES
Light Beer 12 ounces 100 calories
Wine 5 ounces 100 calories
Hard liquor 1.5 ounces 100 calories
Regular Beer 12 ounces 150 calories
Bloody Mary 6 ounces 150 calories
Margarita 12 ounces 175 calories
Pina Colada 8 ounces 300 calories
Long Island Iced Tea 15 ounces 450 calories

 

If you decide to consume alcoholic drinks during your weight loss journey, here are some tips to help limit overall calories:

  • Pay attention to what else goes in your drink (juices, sodas, syrups, etc). Calories from these extras can add up quickly.
  • Choose the lowest calorie liquor and mix it with soda or water.
  • If you like wine, a low-calorie option is a wine spritzer. Fill your glass half full with your favorite type of wine, and then add sparkling water.
  • Eat something before you drink.  Drinking on an empty stomach can make you feel tipsy sooner.  This can lead to poor eating decisions. Food on your stomach prior to drinking will help absorb the alcohol more slowly and help you to make better choices.
  • Sip your drink slowly.  When finished, have a non-alcoholic drink (water or sparking water) before having more alcohol.
  • Make a plan.   Before you drink, set a limit and stick with it.