Alcohol and Weight Gain: How Much is Too Much?

August 19, 2013

Alcohol and Weight LossSummertime is about socializing with friends and relaxing in the sun. Often times, these activities come with a cocktail in hand. But that cocktail is anything but calorie free. Just two fruity alcoholic drinks can pile on 800 calories or more. One drink becomes two, two becomes three, and suddenly you’ve washed down hundreds or thousands of liquid calories.

Having a drink or two once in a while won’t wreak havoc on your waistline, but when you make it a habit you may start to encounter weight problems. A recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition analyzed the regular drinking habits of 7,608 men ages 45 to 64 over a five-year period. The heaviest drinkers showed the greatest weight gain and had the highest prevalence rates of high BMI, indicating heavy alcohol intake is directly related to obesity.

Other studies back this claim up. Data from the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (HANES I) found drinkers have significantly higher intakes of total calories than nondrinkers, solely because of alcohol consumption. Although this data found drinkers were not more obese than nondrinkers, improving overall diet and limiting alcoholic intake is an easy way to reduce calories and shed pounds.

Try to limit alcoholic beverages to lower calorie choices. When you do decide to indulge in a cocktail, it doesn’t have to be a total calorie bomb if you know your facts.

Sip slowly. Nurse your drink and really enjoy it. You won’t be as tempted to go back for more and feel more satisfied after just one drink.

Choose your mixer wisely. Juices, soda, and margarita mixers add hundreds of calories to already high-caloric alcohol. Tonic, wine, and light beer are far better options, keeping your drink close to the 100-calorie range. If you’re craving something sweeter, just a small splash of your favorite juice will do the trick without putting your drink in the calorie-bomb zone.

Try double fisting. No, I don’t mean with two cocktails. Have your cocktail in one hand and water in the other. Alcohol dehydrates you, which can give you a false sense of hunger causing you eat or drink more than you really need. You’re more likely to slow down and feel full faster with water in hand.

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