Is alcohol ruining our waistlines?
How to keep happy hour from turning into hefty hour
It’s no secret: anyone who’s looking for results at the gym should cut alcohol out of their diet. Hah! But for so many of us this is easier said than done. Sure, it’s been a long week at work, and we can’t wait to get out of the office and dive into our favorite happy hour bar. But a night out can severely damage the meal plan that we’ve been keeping in check so meticulously during the week – and we know it!
The truth is, most people don’t pay attention to calories when they are drinking, and are surprised why they don’t achieve desired results at the gym. Now, let’s take note: alcohol is the second most calorie-dense macronutrient, with 7kcal per gram (that’s just below pure fat, which has 9 calories per gram), and to make matters worse the calories in alcoholic drinks are sneakier and trickier to balance out with a meal plan than the calories from food.
Now be honest, do you ever think about what exactly you are drinking when you sip on that colorful cocktail in front of you? Certainly, mixing booze with soft drinks make the liquor more drinkable but it also adds up an uncontrolled amount of sugar and calories with each sip. So, how many calories are in your favorite drinks?
Let us take a closer look at those funny liquids from the past weekends and the calories they sneaked into our diet:
Bottle of beer (340ml): 150-200 kcal
1 serving Vodka and Tonic (240ml): 200 kcal
1 serving Gin and Tonic (200ml): 200 kcal
Rum and Coke (240ml): 185 kcal
Mojito (240ml): 214 kcal
Martini (75ml): 160 kcal
Red wine (150ml): 120 kcal
White wine (150ml): 120 kcal
And here’s the science behind it:
Besides adding hundreds of calories to your diet, alcohol temporarily keeps your metabolism from burning fat (source: Pamela M. Peeke, MD, author of The Hunger Fix). The reason is that our body can’t store calories from alcohol for later, the way it does with calories from food. So when you drink, your metabolic system must stop what it’s doing (as for example burning off calories from your last meal) to get rid of the booze. The result is that whatever you recently ate gets stored as fat.
Then, can we ever enjoy a drink without damaging our waistline?
Absolutely! Long-term studies found that middle-aged and older women who drank moderately (about one drink a day) gained less weight over time than those who never drank at all. They were also less likely to become obese, as moderate drinkers appeared to be more likely to compensate for the occasional drinks by taking in fewer calories from other sources and also tended to be a little more physically active (source: Archives of Internal Medicine and International Journal of Obesity).
What else, beyond basic exercise and calorie-counting, can keep you from packing on pounds? Here a few tips how you can have your sips and jeans that still zip:
Always eat when you drink
Eat right rather than less: Go for foods that provide long-lasting energy, like foods that are high in fiber, protein, and a little bit of healthy fat to help control blood-sugar levels and make you feel satisfied.
Don’t fuel your cravings with booze
Avoid juices, liqueurs (which are sweet and syrupy), colas, tonics, and super-sugary bottled mixes like the ones for a lot of bar-made margaritas and daiquiris. Not only do the sweet-and-fancy ones tend to have more calories, but the additional sugar can make you even hungrier: Your blood sugar will shoot higher than it does on beer, wine, or a shot of something. So if you’re going to drink, remember: the simpler the drink, the better for your waistline.
Stick to two drinks – tops!
Don’t fall for the misconception that you can go without alcohol all week and save your seven drinks for the weekend. After four drinks your body has many hundreds of alcohol calories to process before it can continue to break down food calories or stored fat. Also: when you’re tipsy you’ll have no compunction to order that burger with a side of chili fries on top of all.
Beware that starving feeling the next day
As if the hangover wasn’t punishment enough, the morning after also poses a diet challenge: The body needs energy to resolve the effects of a big night of drinking, so it wants the richest source of energy it can find, which is fat. Also, you’re dehydrated and that can make you feel even hungrier. Therefore, before going to bed, drink plenty of water, along with a snack that is high in fiber and protein such as high-fiber cereal or oatmeal, which can provide your body with important nutrients that were lost during the night out.
Are you up for the ultimate 7-day challenge? Let’s do this!!