Alcohol and a Healthy Lifestyle – Do they mix?

*Disclaimer: Bad puns ahead.

For many adults, consuming alcohol in moderation can be an enjoyable facet of social events and gatherings. However, alcohol in excess can have a significantly detrimental impact on your mental and physical health. High-caloric alcoholic beverages in particular can be an obstacle when it comes to achieving your fat-loss goals.

No need to get salty about it yet, though. There is a fine lime between healthy and destructive drinking habits. Hopefully some of this information might help to guide you if you’re deciding wine or wine not to imbibe along your journey to better health. Let’s hop to it!

First of all, many people are under the impression that alcohol itself doesn’t contain calories, it’s just the mixes and sugar in drinks that cause unwanted weight gain. Sadly, that’s simply not true!

Alcohol contains approximately 7 calories per gram. When you combine the calories in alcohol with the carbohydrates in sugary cocktails and beers, those calories can really add up!

Let’s say you’re aiming for a calorie deficit of 500kcals per day to achieve your weight loss goal. Even if you meet that goal by tracking your food intake perfectly, having three sugary cocktails on a night out could easily set you back 600 calories or more, meaning you’re now in a calorie surplus for the day.

Not only will the calories set you back, but alcohol has to be metabolized and detoxified by the liver before being excreted from the body. Since alcohol is toxic for the body, it will work very hard to prioritize the processing of alcohol before it metabolizes glucose and lipids (carbs and fat) in your bloodstream, increasing the likelihood that the glucose and lipids will be stored as adipose tissue (body fat). If this news crushes your spirits or has your love for champagne falling flat, read on!

Fortunately, with a little bit of practice, intention, and compromise, there ARE ways to enjoy happy hour in a more goal-oriented way. In fact, social engagement and community are an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and unless you have a medical condition that says otherwise, the occasional alcoholic beverage doesn’t have to detract from your goals.

How to go about this?

Choose wisely. When it comes to calories, hard liquors such as vodka, whiskey, gin, and tequila contain the lowest number of calories at roughly 100kcals per 1.5 oz pour. By choosing drink mixes that have no additional calories, such as sparkling water, you can minimize the calorie and sugar content of your beverages. If making your own cocktails, it’s easy to control the sugar content! For example, make a lower-calorie margarita by swapping out the sugar for stevia. Measuring out proper portion sizes (1.5 oz hard liquor, 5-6 oz wine, 12 oz beer) can also help you stay on track and ensure you’re drinking in a controlled, moderate way.

Choose health! When it comes to making healthier drinking decisions, red wine contains polyphenols, which are plant chemicals that have cardiovascular and blood-sugar regulating benefits. Moderate red wine consumption is even promoted as part of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet. Additionally, most standard pours of wine (sweet and dessert wines excluded) only contain about 125 calories per glass, and approximately 4g of carbs, making wine a grape choice.

Of course, like most things, alcohol should be consumed responsibly and in moderation. It can be full of empty calories that contribute to excess adiposity. The judgement impairment that comes with drinking is whiskey business that often leads to poor dietary choices, further impeding on your goals. Alcohol also decreases your sleep quality and drinking in excess can lead to a plethora of serious health complications. Therefore, it’s probably not in your best interest to rosé all day, but there’s no riesling you can’t wine down after a long week at the office.

Consuming alcohol, even on occasion, may not be the right choice for everyone. But by making more goal-oriented beverage choices, you should be able to maintain a healthy lifestyle and body composition without cancelling your gin membership altogether. Cheers!



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