Are you aware how many calories you may be consuming from alcohol? Your “spirits” may be triggering weight gain. Drinking alcohol on a daily basis can rack up your calorie intake. For example, a 12-ounce beer each day can add up to 1,000 additional calories per week—that’s a possible weight gain of 10 pounds in one year!
Holiday season tends to see increased alcohol consumption compared with the rest of the year. This is due to the increased number of events that usually occur around the holidays with regard to holiday parties, or just celebrating the holidays in general. To successfully get through this holiday season, remember one word: Moderation.
Evidence based studies show that alcohol may have proven benefits such as lowering the risks for developing heart disease, dying of a heart attack, experiencing a stroke, gallstones, and type 2 diabetes. However, these risk-lowering benefits are only afforded by following strict guidelines for the consumption of alcohol. These strict guidelines describe moderation as one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
What is the size of the drink in question? According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, beer is a maximum of 12 ounces; wine a maximum of 5 ounces; distilled spirits a maximum of 1.5 ounces. Consuming alcohol in excess will wreak havoc on your health and weight. Furthermore, you cannot skip one day and then make it up the next day by doubling your portions. It doesn’t work that way. However, virtually no health professional encourages anyone to begin drinking if you are not already. Avoiding alcohol is generally the ideal.
Exceeding recommended alcohol consumption is known to cause a whole host of negative health effects. Overconsumption leads to increased risks of heart problems, liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis, cancer, chronic disease and decreased immune function. Other negative effects are nutrient deficiencies, nerve damage, depression, and high blood pressure. Weight gain resulting from overconsumption of alcohol is also of particular importance. This is because weight gain in general can also cause many of the negative effects listed above. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of your alcohol portions.
To that end, here are some examples of alcoholic drinks, their serving sizes and the approximate calories attached:
Amaretto Sour, 6 ounces 421 calories; Bailey’s Irish Cream, 5 ounces 468 calories; Beer, 12 ounces 150 calories; Champagne, 4 ounces 100 calories; Cosmopolitan, 5 ounces 262 calories; Daiquiri, 5 ounces 280 calories; Dessert Wine, Dry, 5 ounces 198 calories; Dessert Wine, Sweet, 5 ounces 344 calories; 80-proof Distilled Spirits, (i.e. gin, vodka, whiskey, and rum), 1.5 ounces 100-125 calories; Gin & Tonic, 7 ounces 189 calories; Irish Coffee, 10 ounces 159 calories; Margarita, 6.3 ounces 327 calories; Martini, 4 ounces 252 calories; Whiskey Sour, 6 ounces 250 calories; Wine, Red or White, 5 ounces 100-105 calories.
Weight gain related to alcohol consumption can take on several forms. It can either result from the liquid calories, or from the increased consumption of food that is usually caused by drinking, or both. The calories from alcohol don’t satisfy your body the same way calories from food do. Instead, alcohol actually causes you to eat more. This is because alcohol suppresses the hormone leptin in your body. Leptin is the satiety hormone that tells you to stop eating when you are full. When leptin is suppressed, you don’t recognize that you are full, and therefore keep eating.
When alcohol is consumed, your body burns alcohol calories first before it burns any other calories from food or sugar. This is because alcohol is converted to acetate in the body. Acetate is used as an energy source for the body first before calories from food. This causes your body to store fat from food instead of burning it. Furthermore, studies show that alcohol temporarily inhibits lipid oxidation. Lipid oxidation is basically the breakdown of fat in the body. When lipid oxidation is inhibited, it is harder for the body to burn fat that is already there.
So how do you avoid weight gain while drinking alcohol? First, as previously mentioned, moderation is the key. Make sure to stay within the aforementioned portion guidelines. It’s also best to eat while drinking. Make sure your meals are balanced and nutrient dense. Meals should also include protein, fiber, and healthy fat for blood sugar control and to keep you feeling fuller longer.
And, of course, don’t drink and drive. Be sure to have a designated driver with you.