Spring and summer seasons are often filled with enjoying patio happy hours, gathering for family barbecues, and attending more social events. These engagements often involve delicious foods, great conversations and alcoholic beverages. As many of us work on our “summer bodies”, one question often arises: how does alcohol affect our weight?
There are a few reasons why alcohol can slow down or even prevent weight loss: here’s what you need to know.
Alcohol comes with a price tag of “empty calories”
While alcohol contains 7 calories per gram, it does not provide any nutrients. In fact, heavy alcohol consumption can lead to depletion of many nutrients, including folate, thiamine, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin A. Here is the amount of calories in a standard drink:
- 12 oz of beer = 150 calories
- 5 oz of wine= 125 calories
- 1.5 oz of distilled alcohol (vodka, rye, rum, etc) = 100 calories
Unfortunately, the calories typically don’t stop there. While trying creations of various mixologists is fun, added mixes also increase the calorie tag. For example:
- 7 oz of daiquiri = 260 calories
- 5 oz of pina colada = 245 calories
This means that a few drinks could bring you upwards of 500 empty calories – that’s more than adding an extra McDonalds Big Mac to your meal!
Alcohol is an appetite stimulant
It is a well-known fact that alcohol decreases inhibition, which often leads to consumption of larger food portions and less healthy options while drinking alcohol. This is why it’s a common practice at most restaurants to order your drinks first, leaving you with a food menu to look over while you sip. Often, it leaves the food establishments with a bigger paycheck.
Moreover, alcohol can affect the satiety and food inhibition hormones, such as leptin and glucagon-like peptide -1. This is why beer and chips and wine and cheese go so well together – and why you’ll often find yourself easily being able to eat more than you would without the booze.
Alcohol affects your sleep
Have you ever heard (or experienced) lack of energy after a night on the town? Alcohol can negatively affect sleep onset and sleep quality, leaving people more tired the next day. This, in turn, can affect the hormones that control our appetite, leading to cravings and overeating of comfort foods the next day.
So what can you do?
Here are some ways to enjoy alcoholic beverages more responsibly and lessen their effects on the body!
- Have a game plan: decide on the number of drinks you’re going to have before going out and stick to that number. According to Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines, women should have no more than 2 drinks per day most days (and less than 10 drinks per week) and men should limit consumption to no more than 3 drinks per day most days (and less than 15 drinks per week).
- Have a snack before going out, or have a well-balanced meal while consuming alcohol. Include a source of protein and fibre to help curb the impulse to indulge in high-calorie, deep-fried options.
- Stay hydrated! Aim to have a glass of water for every alcoholic beverage. You can also try adding sparkling water to wine (making a spritzer) or using sugar-free beverages in mixed drinks.
Remember, it’s okay to enjoy a drink now and then – even while trying to lose weight. The important thing is to drink in moderation and choose your beverages wisely. If you want to learn more about incorporating alcohol into your weight loss goals, don’t be afraid to reach out to your registered dietitian for guidance and support.