To Drink or Not to Drink…


© 2014 Dr. Sharon Norling

Alcohol is packed with empty calories just like a sweet hard candy you might want to enjoy from time to time. However, just because you are on a diet does not mean you can’t allow yourself an occasional drink or two. The trick is – moderation and awareness of how alcohol works and how it affects to your body and your pounds. Let me break it down for you so you can see the whole picture.

Nutrition:

You may be eating more but absorbing less. Research indicates that alcohol before a meal increases calories consumption by at least 20%. If you add calories from alcohol itself you end up leaving dinner with over 30% increase in your calorie intake. And don’t forget extra calories packed in those treats that suddenly start to sound more appealing after you have a drink or two. Ice cream or chocolate, or maybe pizza, or nachos. Drinking makes it easier to forget your healthy diet rules and convince yourself that Monday you will go back to “being good.” So… good bye willpower and hello extra pounds.

I am not saying you can never have a drink. Life is all about balance and sometimes a cocktail is a much needed treat. When it is one of those times – let yourself enjoy a fun night with your guy or girl and, perhaps, have a look at different alcohol options and choose wisely.

Here are some examples of alcoholic beverages and the sweet damage that they do:

Daiquiri (8oz): 449 Calories
Pina Colada(12oz): 586 Calories + 57 Carbs, 5g Fat
Mai Tai(9oz): 620 Calories
Mud Slide(6oz): 556 Calories
Mojito (12oz): 235 Calories (substitute the sugar for Splenda and it’s only 140 Calories)
Apple Martini (3oz): 148 Calories
Cosmopolitan (5oz): 200 Calories
Margarita (10oz): 550 Calories
Long Island Iced Tea (10oz): 543 Calories
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale: 200 Calories
Vodka Red Bull (9oz): 177 Calories
Whisky Sour (4oz): 193 Calories
Sweet Dessert Wine (4oz): 189 Calories
Cabernet (4oz): 97 Calories (not bad, but consider the small size of a 4oz pour)
Pinot Grigio (4oz): 96 Calories (not bad, but consider the small size of a 4oz pour)
Gin, rum, vodka or whiskey (1.5 oz): 97 Calories

However, even as little as one drink can contribute to malnutrition. Alcohol does not carry any nutritional value and contains only empty calories and often a lot of them. Calories in alcoholic drinks can replace your body’s energy requirements. Instead of getting that energy from healthy foods your body ends up running on empty fuel.

Here are just a few examples of some common nutrient deficiencies caused by alcohol consumption:

• Folate needed for new cells production.
• Vitamin B12 essential for making DNA and to maintaining healthy nerve cells and red blood cells.
• Vitamin A vital for keeping your vision and immune system healthy. Not only alcohol causes vitamin A deficiency, it also increases its toxicity.
• Calcium needed for productions of hormones and enzymes as well as for healthy functioning of blood vessel and muscles.

Metabolism:

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1994, 59, 805-809 reports that alcohol appears to increase metabolic rate significantly. However, what happens is that our bodies are not able to store alcohol and that’s why we start metabolizing it right away making it a priority over metabolizing healthy foods. As a result your body suffers from lacking good nutrition.

In addition, alcohol causes inflammation in the organs of the digestive tract and irritation of GI lining which subsequently impairs your body’s ability to absorb minerals and vitamins from food.

Blood Sugar:

Healthy glucose levels are essential for good metabolism. Alcohol inhibits your body’s ability to make glucose and to maintain those healthy levels of blood sugar. This can lead to developing glucose intolerance and diabetes – another real danger of excessive alcohol consumption.

If you choose to have a few drink, please keep these tips in mind:

• Alternate nonalcoholic and alcoholic drinks.
• Select light versions whenever possible.
• Eat before drinking. Never drink on an empty stomach.
• Keep drinking water.
• Slowly sip your drink to make it last longer.

Enjoy your drinks but don’t replace your Happy Life for a Happy Hour!