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When dieting, alcohol is, well, a controversial subject. Is it okay to drink once in a while? Or is alcohol as bad as they say?
Many dieting programs eliminate alcohol right from the start. But why? Is it possible to find a healthy way to include alcohol in your diet? To find inspiration from our sugar-free cocktail mixes, check our website and recipes for ideas.
Dietary calories comprise three primary macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. However, another macronutrient also plays a significant role—alcohol.
Traditional macro counting doesn’t include alcohol because it’s not an essential nutrient. However, just like other macronutrients, alcohol has calories. Alcohol can even have as high of a calorie count as fat!
Let’s dig into the numbers. Carbohydrates and proteins account for four calories per 0.04 ounces, and fat contains nine calories per 0.04 ounces. In other words, fat has double the calories of carbohydrates and proteins. The calories in alcohol come in lower than fat but higher than carbs and proteins at seven calories per 0.04 ounces.
Understanding this is essential to know how alcohol can help (or hurt!) your weight loss goals.
For the beer drinkers out there, remember beers are high in calories, especially stouts and IPAs. Calories from alcoholic drinks can add up fast, ruining your weight loss progress, so go for the lowest calorie choices. For example, avoid alcoholic beverages made with mixers high in sugar like juice, soda, and coconut cream, and limit your consumption of liquors.
However, if you still want to include some alcohol if your meal plan, here are some examples of better alcoholic options to consider for your weight loss journey:
Having a glass of red wine with your dinner has been considered healthy for many years because of its heart-related health benefits. Harvard Health Publishing reports that this idea traces back to the 1980s, perhaps because red wine contains 105 calories per five-ounce serving. While no long-term randomized trials have proven these beneficial health claims, a dry red wine, such as Sauvignon, Syrah, or Cabernet, certainly has lower calories.
A twelve-ounce glass of light beer contains around ninety-six calories. Therefore, drinking a light beer instead of a regular beer will save you fifty-ish calories in a twelve-ounce serving!
MedlinePlus reports that a three-ounce glass of dry vermouth has about 105 calories. And although you’ll typically have it mixed with a Manhattan or martini, you can save some calories when you drink it dry.
Research also shows that dry vermouth has more polyphenols than white wine. Polyphenols are naturally occurring compounds that regulate metabolism, chronic disease, and weight.
Whether you like whiskey, gin, vodka, or tequila, there’s no significant difference in the amounts of carbohydrates or calories. They all have nearly one hundred calories per one-and-a-half-ounce serving.
The best option when drinking alcohol is to have it dry, with club soda, or with sparkling water, because a cocktail can quickly go from a hundred-calorie beverage to over three hundred calories when you add sugar mixers.
If you choose a glass of bubbly over white wine, you’ll save thirty-five calories per glass. On the other hand, a four-ounce serving of champagne contains eighty-five calories. And although this may feel like a lot of calories, you most probably will feel fuller after your first drink and turn down the second drink because of the carbonation.
When on a diet, always think about the bigger picture. Your primary goal at this point is to lose weight, so if you feel alcohol may compromise your end goals, take that into account before enjoying a few too many drinks. Fortunately, drinking alcohol with lower calories, such as red wine, dry vermouth, or champagne, can help you stay on track. So grab a glass, and have some fun—while feeling confident you are making a healthier lifestyle choice!