June 21, 2010

Are you drinking your weight loss away?

So, the first thing I want to say about alcohol in general and weight loss is that it just plain shouldn’t be related – if you want to lose weight, then STOP DRINKING! That’s the simple truth to the matter. But, if you, like I do, live in a lifestyle were you occasionally have a drink some smart choices and knowing your facts can keep you on track with your weight loss. I know all of you have heard that having one drink a day is a healthy way to go, so let’s look into these facts and get to know our alcohol a little better.

Alcohol is metabolized differently than other foods and beverages. When alcohol is present in our systems our energy does not come from the usual suspects of calories in carbohydrates, fats and proteins that need to be slowly digested in the stomach. When we consume alcohol it needs no digestions, and reaches the brain and liver minutes. If you have eaten recently the reaction can be slowed, but the alcohol is still absorbed quickly once it reached the small intestine. Alcohol then arrives into the liver, and the carbs and dietary fats are then just turned into body fat, waiting to be carried away for permanent fat storage in our bodies.

Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that it causes 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, and muscle contraction and relaxation.

Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram and offers NO nutritional value. It only adds empty calories to your diet. Why not spend your calorie budget on something healthier?

Alcohol affects your body in other negative ways. When you drink alcohol it can reduce your deep sleep, even though you may have felt like it put you to sleep very well. But, as a result you are getting less rest for your body. It may also increase the acid in your stomach, which in turn can cause the stomach lining to become inflamed. Heart problems, liver disease, and stomach ulcers are just a few of the many serious health problems associated with a high consumption of alcohol.

Alcohol lowers your inhibitions, which is detrimental to your diet plans. So, when my inhibitions are lowered I don’t do the typical dance on table tops or have random sexual experiences (good thing sine I’m a married Christian Woman), but I do tend to crave large consumption of food! This is due to how alcohol reacts in me, by stimulating my appetite. So, I typically will order fried foods, over eat my meal, or eat junk food once I have had a few drinks in me. To avoid this try to eat your healthy meal before you drink, and of course limit your alcohol to 1-2 drinks. Also, if you’re at a bar there may also be that tasty free bowl of peanuts, pretzel, or whatever they choose to serve up. This can stimulate your thirst, and cause you to want to drink more as well. So, drink water with your drinks to avoid feeling dehydrated.

Skipping a meal to save your calories for drinks later is a bad idea. Many times you know you will 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. This is a 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 enhancing 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 looming night out with friends, include an extra 30 minutes of exercise to balance your calories—instead of skipping a meal.

What are more important, calories or carbs? Here’s the big picture for those of us who only drink occasionally and need to know what’s more appropriate for our diets. Liquor has no carbs, but both wine and beer contain them. Do we watch our carbs or our calories? You should really be focusing more on calories, and liquor only has a few less calories then wine and beer. Plus, liquor is usually mixed with other drinks, giving you even more empty calories. Hard liquor contains about 100 calories per shot, so adding a mixer increases your calorie intake even more. Try mixing liquor with club soda instead or fruit juice and regular soda. Also, dry wines usually have fewer calories then a sweet wine.

The list below breaks down the number of calories in typical alcoholic drinks. Compare some of your favorites to make a good choice next time you decide to indulge in a serving of alcohol.

Drink/Serving Size/Calories
Red wine/5 oz./100
White wine/5 oz./100
Champagne/5 oz./130
Light beer/12 oz./105
Regular beer/12 oz./140
Dark beer/12 oz./170
Cosmopolitan/3 oz./165
Martini/3 oz./205
Long Island iced tea/8 oz./400
Gin & Tonic/8 oz./175
Rum & Soda/8 oz./180
Margarita/8 oz./200
Whiskey Sour/4 oz./200

Info courtesy of Sparkpeople.com

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