Updated: Nov 16
One of the most frequent questions I get asked by clients is "What alcoholic drinks can I drink?" or "Does alcoholic make a big difference to my goals?", here is my guide to answer those questions, and considerations you can make next time you decide to have a drink. Whether you are a social butterfly or a stay at home drinker, alcohol can be one of the hidden factors to your struggle to lose weight or shift that belly fat!
"It's easy to underestimate the number of calories you are drinking"
What Are The Dangers Of Drinking?
I think its important to first understand the dangers of consuming alcohol on a regular basis and the help you can get if you feel you have an alcoholic addition.
Regularly consuming at least 14 units per week can increase your chances of developing;
Mouth, Throat and Breast Cancer
Damage to the Nervous System
Short term risks drinking alcohol is the increase in cortisol and the decrease in testosterone, what does this mean to you and your fitness goals?
Cortisol: Cortisol is a stress hormone that can be triggered under the influence of alcohol. This can increase blood pressure, increase anxiety, negatively impact bone growth, digestion and repair/reproduction. Cortisol can also increase your appetite and cause cravings for sweet, high-fat and salty foods, this can have a link to stimulating fats and carbohydrates and contributing to weight increase or struggle to lose weight.
Testosterone: High Cortisol levels can have a negative impact on your testosterone levels (male and females). Low testosterone levels can impact you with; reduced body muscle, bone density, reduced red blood cell production and lowers sex drive.
If you feel like you have an alcoholic addition and live in the UK, please visit the NHS Website and take the relevant steps to help overcome the addiction.
What Are The Recommended Amounts To Consume?
Male and Females are recommended to drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week, this equates to around 6 pints of beer (4%) per week or 7 glasses of wine (11.5%, 175ml).
Did you know? Alcohol equates to 7 calories per gram!! To put this into consideration, if you was to drink 5 pints of lager a week over 52 weeks you will consume about 44,200 kcals which is an equivalent to eating 221 doughnuts!
The Numbers Stack Up
It's easy to underestimate the number of calories you are drinking, some drinks you have can be topping over 400 calories! It is pretty scary reading when you start looking at the amount of calories you can consume after a few drinks, for me the worst thing is that I would consider alcohol as 'empty' calories too meaning that you are going to see no nutritional benefit from the consumption - unlike proteins, carbohydrates and fats. These empty calories can also stop fats in the body being burned for energy.
It would be wrong of me to preach that everyone now becomes teetotal and a little hypercritical too, fortunately though there are ways around reducing your calorie consumption whilst enjoying a drink or a social life. Below is a guide to some of the popular alcoholic drinks with alternative lighter options and a non-alcoholic choice.
Everyone loves a pint of Guinness. Ireland's most famous export is a favourite for sessioning - because it's not gassy so you don't get the nasty one-pint bloat you get with lager.
It's so good the NHS used to dish it out to blood donors, post-op patients and even new mothers to boost their iron as a pint of the famous Dublin stout contains 0.3mg.
A Wisconsin study also found that a pint a day could be as effective as asprin at reducing blood clots which can cause heart attacks.
But before you go nailing 10 jars of the black stuff (which is actually more ruby coloured in reality), know this - one pint (568ml) contains 210 calories. There's 18g of carbs in each one too.
Lighter option: Murphy's Irish Stout - 171 calories
Non-alcoholic: Guinness Zero - 79 calories
Moderate beer consumption can actually improve your cardiovascular health, according to Italian research. It can even help you rehydrate better than water after exercise.
The odd ale won't kill you, but 10 pints of beer followed by the obligatory Friday night pizza will leave your gains in tatters.
There's 225 calories in a pint of Fosters (with 17.6g of carbs) whereas Carling only has 189 calories per pint (8g of carbs).
You can get 'light' or 'low carb' versions of loads of beers these days which are better on your belly, Budweiser select 55 has only 55 calories and Becks Premier Light has 63 calories. There is also a wide range of non-alcoholic beverages available such as Becks Blue that has only 14 calories.
The calories will slightly depend on the Gin you are drinking and how you drink your Gin, a typical G&T is around 120 calories with a regular tonic and a typical slimline G&T around 56 calories. One of the heavier Gins available is Tanqueray Old Tom Gin – 98 calories (25 ml) and a lighter Gin is Gordon’s Gin – 52 calories (25 ml). There is also Cedars Wild Non-Alcoholic Spirit that is only 3 calories (50ml).
Due to the high volume of alcohol (40%), whiskey can have a high calorie intake, whiskey yields around 207 calories per 100g or 98 calories per 1.5oz shot. Similar to Gin, this will also depend on the whiskey you drink and how you drink your whiskey, a 10oz whiskey and coke has approximately 195 calories, substituting with a Diet Coke and whiskey can have approximately 98 calories. Cragganmore Scotch Whisky is one of the higher calorie whiskeys with 147 calories per 1.5oz shot and Jack Daniels has one of the least with 98 calories per 1.5oz shot.
A household favourite, it has been reported that the average wine drinker can put on around half a stone of fat in a year. The calorie consumption of a glass of wine can depend on the sweetness level and %ABV, the higher the value will equal to the more calories within the wine, some of the highest glasses of wine can have around 220 calories per 175ml. There is a range of low calorie/ dry wines available now that have around 68-120 calories per 175ml glass of wine and non-alcoholic wines that have around 22 calories.
Unfortunately, cocktails are one of the main culprits when it comes to the amount of calories in a drink because of the high sugar or starch included. Some of the cocktails with the highest amount of calories are; Margaritas - 850 calories, Mudslide - 820 calories, Piña Colada - 650 calories and Mojito - 242 calories. Fortunately there are alternatives than can help quench that desire for a cocktail whilst still keeping the calories low, some of the recommended alternatives include; Watermelon and Champagne - 100 calories, Skinny Blueberry Spritzer - 117 calories and Lime Margarita - 93 calories.
When the sun's out there's no better drink to quench your thirst than a frosty pint of cider.
Summer wouldn't be the same without bucket loads of the stuff.
Like apples, natural apple cider actually can have some health benefits and the phytochemicals in the fruit are strong anti-oxidants which can inhibit cancer cell proliferation and lower cholesterol.
The calorie content of cider however can vary depending on their alcohol %ABV.
A pint of Strongbow only has 187 calories whereas Gaymers Old English Cider contains 244 calories. Kopparberg also have a range of non-alcoholic ciders that have 0.5% alcohol that is around 41 calories per drink.
Q. Can you drink enough water to override the alcohol consumed?
A. Unfortunately no, although drinking plenty of water can help keep you hydrated as alcohol can cause dehydration. It is also important to recognise that alcohol is a diuretic, which is the reason you pee more when you drink. Diuretic works in the kidneys by increasing the amount of salt and water that comes out of your urine. Although you can't override the alcohol you have drank and the calories consumed, drinking water can keep your body hydrated and possibly help aid with a hangover.
Comment below what you think about our post, what you think about Guide to Alcohol and what changes you could put in place.
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