Alcohol and its empty calories!

You might enjoy a beer or wine to mark the end of a busy or crappy day, or enjoy a cocktail or champagne at Friday night drinks.   Before you know it, the drinks can start to add up, not just in quantity but in calories as well!  Let’s take a look at some examples:

  • A 250 ml glass of beer = around 100 calories and contains no sugar
  • A 250 ml glass of sweet white wine = around 250 calories and 25g of sugar
  • A 250 ml glass of red wine = around 210 calories and 2g of sugar
  • A cocktail can be around 235 calories, and 36g of sugar

Most of the time we seriously underestimate our alcohol consumption as I doubt most of us would pour our wine or beer into a measuring jug to make sure we are having just 1 standard drink each time!

And although you might read articles that suggest moderate alcohol intake is associated with a lower risk of diabetes and heart disease, it doesn’t mean that regular drinking will have these benefits for you.  It may be that some moderate drinkers have other things going on in their lives that are keeping them healthy (e.g., good genes, an ability to process alcohol well, lower stress levels etc).

Speaking of stress, having more than a glass at night to unwind can actually increase the production of hormones that will leave you feeling more stressed!  It can also increase blood pressure and heart rate which can disrupt your sleeping patterns.  So while you might get to sleep quicker after a few, you won’t get the deep sleep you need and so you will wake up more cranky and stressed!

But don’t worry – I’m not going to tell you not to drink as I enjoy a glass or two here and there!!

So deciding whether to have a drink or cut back depends on how much you drink, what your health and fitness goals are, and how you want to prioritize those things.  If you want to lose some weight or tone up and build muscle mass, you might need to consider cutting the weekend binge back!

It’s also important to remember to have a few drinks if you truly enjoy it, and not because:

  • You are really stressed
  • It’s become a habit
  • Other people around you want you to drink because they don’t want to drink alone, or
  • You think it’s good for you

So, if you want to cut out those extra calories, you might want to consider observing:

  • How much you drink in a week or two to work out if you feel like you are indulging too much
  • What alcohol does to your body – do you feel good afterwards, or is it adding extra unwanted calories that you could do without?

If you come to the conclusion that you want to reduce or eliminate your intake, some tips to help include:

  • Delay your next drink, even if only for 10 minutes to see if you really want it
  • If your drinking involves particular patterns, try to look for ways to change the pattern, so for example, go to Friday drinks after work every second week, or instead of going for a wine with a friend, go to see a movie instead!
  • Drink mindfully – so drink slowly and enjoy every mouthful.  You’ll find you will drink less!
  • Find some healthier alternatives like:
    • Naturally flavoured water using fresh berries, citrus fruits like oranges, lemons or limes or even ginger and herbs like mint.
    • Homemade iced tea without the sugar
    • Coconut water – although it’s not calorie free, it can be a better alternative.  Just check the labels for any added sugar, but most are around 25 calories for a 250ml glass
    • Homemade smoothies – using vegies and a bit of fruit, with almond milk, coconut water or plain old water.  Freezing your diced fruits and vegies are a good way to make a thick and creamy smoothie!

Cheers to the weekend everyone!