The Skinny on Alcohol and Weight Loss

Monday, June 28, 2010

Quote of the day: "Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling." -Margrart Lee Runbeck

Article of the day: Check out these delicious skinny cocktails! Drinks under 200 calories.

Most of the time, alcohol and weight loss are enemies, but an occasional drink can definitely have a place in a healthy lifestyle. Cutting out alcohol completely would not only leave you feeling deprived, but make you miss out on some highly potent antioxidants as well! So everything is good in moderation.  First let’s take a look at the ways alcohol can be sabotaging your weight loss efforts, and then we will talk about ways to slim down your favorite cocktails! 

Why alcohol is (sometimes) the enemy:

Alcohol is metabolized differently than other food and beverages. Normally, the body receives energy when carbohydrates, fats and proteins are slowly digested in the stomach, but this is not true when alcohol is present. Alcohol trumps all other nutrients in the body because it does not have to be digested. Alcohol molecules simply diffuse through the stomach wall and can reach your brain and liver in mere minutes. When the alcohol arrives n your liver for processing, your liver focuses all of its attention on digesting the alcohol. Since the liver is distracted by the alcohol, it can not properly process the carbohydrates, fats and proteins leaving them to be permanently stored as body fat. Not Good!

Alcohol contains more calories per gram than carbohydrates and proteins. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram (and offers no nutritional value) while carbohydrates and proteins contain 4 calories per gram. So you’re consuming more calories, but getting zero out of them.

Alcohol is a diuretic. Diuretics cause water loss and dehydration which also causes you to lose important minerals such as potassium, calcium and zinc. These nutrients are crucial for your body to maintain normal fluid balance, chemical reactions, and muscle contraction and relaxation.

Alcohol can make you forget your healthy eating habits! Unfortunately, alcohol actually stimulates your appetite. Most of the time, drinking the same amount of calories you would normally consume in a meal will not fill you up. Alcohol also lowers your inhibitions and willpower, which can cause you to eat things (like Whataburger, Taco Bell and Taco Cabana) that you would never dream of eating under normal circumstances!

Skipping a meal to save your calories for drinks will not help you in the long run! Not only will the alcohol absorb faster into your system, you will also be more likely to snack on unhealthy foods throughout the night. If you know you are going to be hitting the town with friends, it is a much better idea to add 30 extra minutes of cardio to balance out those extra calories.

So what is more important, the carbs or the calories in alcohol? Many people think that it is the carbs in alcohol that are the enemy. This myth causes many people to think liquor is a more diet-friendly drink. However, dieters need to watch calories as well, and liquor only has a few less calories than beer or wine. Another thing to be careful about, is what you mix with your liquor. Many mixed drinks contain a ton of sugar and added calories! For example, a 4 oz. whisky sour contains 200 calories and a 8oz long island iced tea contain over 400 calories! Ouch that one hurts just to type!

How to Slim Down your Cocktails!

Choose lower proof liquor. Lower Proof = Less calories. For example, 80 proof vodka has 65 calories an ounce while 100 proof liquor has around 80 calories an ounce.

Just say no to frozen drinks. Many restaurants serve ridiculously oversize frozen drinks that can contain more calories than your favorite dessert! Some frozen margaritas can have over 800 calories!

Avoid premade drink mixes. These are usually made of nothing but corn syrup, artificial flavors and sugar. Mix your own drinks with zero calorie mixers like diet sodas and water with lime.

Switch to soda water. If you like vodka or gin and tonic, you could save over 90 calories a drink by switching to soda water.

Swap your glass of wine for a wine spritzer. By diluting your wine with soda water or diet sprite you will save mega calories. A wine spritzer made with 3 ounces of wine and spritzer only contains 60 calories. My favorite drink is Sangria and  diet sprite loaded with real fruit!

Take a break every once in a while! Alternate between alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages to stay hydrated and cut back on calories.

Avoid fancy cocktails and martinis. These can be calorie bomb shells! If you can’t name all of the ingredients, don’t order it. These are often laced with sugar, syrup and other unnecessary garnishes.

The clearer the better. Stick with drinks you can see through. Many creamy martinis have twice as many calories as their see through counterparts due to the heavy cream in them.

Choose low-calorie or calorie free mixers.
  • Zero Calorie mixers: diet soda, diet tonic, coffee or tea, sugar-free margarita mix, sugar-free sweet’n sour mix
  • Low-cal mixers: light lemonade (5 cal.), Lemon or lime juice (10 cal.), Light cranberry juice 8oz (40 cal.), Light orange juice 8oz (85 cal.)
Check the table below for your drink of choice. Can you upgrade (or should it be downgrade) to a healthier choice??

Happy Mixing!

Lauren G.

P.S. Today marks day 1 of the 100 Push Up challenge!! Good Luck, and keep me posted on your success!!

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2 Responses to “The Skinny on Alcohol and Weight Loss”

  1. Why did I decide to sit down and read this article AFTER I went to Cabo? Seems like I had maybe 5 too many pina coladas.

    Your blog is a life saver! I have learned so much in every article!

  2. Hey Mal,

    I'm so glad you like the blog. I have good news though! I read an article the other day that said: people who don't beat themselves up when they slip up on their diet, maintain a healthier weight than those who do beat themselves up! So don't worry about it- you were in Cabo! Next time just try out their local mojitos!



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