Monday, September 21, 2009

Alcohol and the calories

So you worked out really hard during the week and pratically killed yourself. Friday night rolls around, then Saturday...a few drinks here, more drinks there and next thing you know, you drank enough to undo allllll that work!! Yes, it all adds up!

Some popular drinks:

Pure alcohol contains about 7 calories per gram, which makes it nearly twice as fattening as carbohydrates or protein (both contain about 4 calories per gram) and slightly less than fat (9 calories per gram). This means that if you want to lose weight and reduce excess body fat, alcohol is not a good choice! Alcohol are empty calories and there is NO nutrition value!

Here are some facts you should know about alcohol and nutrition:

•Alcohol is not a carbohydrate.

•Your body processes alcohol first, before fat, protein, or carbs. Thus drinking slows down the burning of fat. When alcohol is consumed, it gets special privileges and need no digestion. This could account for the weight gain seen in some studies. Alcohol gets absorbed through the stomach wall into your liver very quickly.
Your liver gives alcohol all its attention, the carbs (glucose) and dietary fats are changed into body fat, waiting to be carried away for permanent fat storage in the body.

•Alcohol is a diuretic causing water loss and dehydration. Along with this water loss you lose important minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc. These minerals are vital to the maintenance of fluid balance, chemical reactions, muscle contraction and relaxation. This is why you need electrolytes...coconut water, gatorade (actually great for a hangover). See my blog on electrolytes.

•Alcohol affects your body in other negative ways. Drinking may prevent you from getting a good night of rest. It can also increase the amount of acid that your stomach produces, causing your stomach lining to become inflamed. Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to serious health problems, including stomach ulcers, liver disease, and heart troubles.

• Alcohol lowers your inhibitions, which is detrimental to your diet plans. Alcohol actually stimulates your appetite. While you might be full from a comparable amount of calories from food, several drinks might not fill you up. On top of that, research shows that if you drink before or during a meal, both your inhibitions and willpower are reduced. In this state, you are more likely to overeat—especially greasy or fried foods—which can add to your waistline. To avoid this, wait to order that drink until you're done with your meal.

•Skipping a meal to save your calories for drinks later is a bad idea. Many drinkers know they'll be having some alcohol later, whether going to a bar, party, or just kicking back at home. Knowing that drinking entails extra calories, it may be tempting to "bank" some calories by skipping a meal or two. Bad move! If you come to the bar hungry, you are even more likely to munch on the snacks, and drinking on an empty stomach enhances the negative effects of alcohol. If you're planning on drinking later, eat a healthy meal first. You'll feel fuller, which will stop you from overdrinking. If you are worried about a long night out with friends, include an extra 30 minutes of exercise to balance your calories—instead of skipping a meal.

•Hard liquor is distilled and does not contain carbohydrates. The current “Zero Carb” campaign for vodka and whiskey is bogus and may encourage mindless consumption. It’s like bragging that a candy bar is “cholesterol or fat free.”

•When grapes are made into wine, most of the fruit sugars (carbs) convert to alcohol, but a few carbs remain. A 5-ounce glass of wine typically contains 110 calories, 5 grams of carbohydrates, and about 13 grams of alcohol (which accounts for 91 of the calories). A 5-ounce glass of wine supplies roughly the same amount of alcohol and number of calories as a 12-ounce light beer or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits.

•Beer too, contains carbohydrates. The new low-carb beers are not new at all, though this type of beer does indeed have fewer carbs. Low-carb beers are simply the old light beers with a new label and ad campaign. The old Miller Lite has 96 calories and 3.2 grams of carbs in 12 ounces. The “low-carb” Michelob Ultra has 96 calories and 2.6 grams of carbs. Coors Lite has 102 calories and 5 grams of carbs. The differences are tiny and hardly worth mentioning. In contrast, a regular beer has 13 grams of carbs and 150 calories.

If you must drink, Here are some of the best options:

1. Rum and Diet Coke (1 oz. rum) - 65 calories (1.5)
Tip: Use diet sodas as mixers, such as gin and diet tonic, diet 7Up and Seagrams 7, diet ginger ale and Jack Daniels, and so on.

2. Vodka and Soda (1 oz. vodka) - 65 calories (1.5)
Tip: Try this with flavored vodka, such as raspberry, vanilla, or mandarin

3. White Wine Spritzer (4 oz. white wine topped with club soda) - 80 calories (2)

4. Bloody Mary (1 oz. vodka, 4 oz. tomato juice, dash of Tabasco and pepper) - 90 calories (2)

5. Light Beer - 100 calories

Don't forget to drink plenty of water in between to make yourself more fuller, not to mention avoiding dehydration.

"Low-carb" does not mean "Low calorie"!, Alcohol contains calories, not carbs that contribute to weight gain. Between overindulging in food and overdrinking, the combination will not help keep you lean no matter HOW much you exercise! Moderation people, is key! You've heard it day in and day out. I'm not saying you can't drink at all! Depending on your goals, if you're looking to lean out or lose weight, watch your consumption!

Cutting down your intake by 1 or 2 beers, wine, high calorie drinks, etc. little by little will go a LONG way! If you don't believe it, try it for one week! If you can hold out a little longer, 2 or 3 weeks and see how your body reacts. It's totally up to you. Don't complain when you know why your body isn't changing. Experiment and note the results. You can gage how far you go before you let it get out of control.

Balance is key!

If you're feeling guilty, you can burn off all those sinful calories in Cindy Lai's Bootcamp ;-)

P.S. For a list of calories, please go to


  1. Cindy - great blog entry! So informative and helpful. Although I knew some of the details this really helps a lot. I like to think I am not a lush - but sometimes, we all stray a little bit away from the process. I never knew rum and diet is lower then a glass of wine! Of course, everything in moderation but this is very insightful. Thank you for posting this - I'm hoping that moderation will soon become my middle name!! Hahahaha!