Saturday, October 2, 2010

Don't Let Alcohol Ruin Your Diet

Alcohol is a source of added calories that may be easily overlooked by dieters. But if you are trying to lose weight, you should know that unrestrained drinking could ruin your diet. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Calories from Alcohol
Alcohol is a source of energy, which means excessive intake could contribute to unwanted weight gain. Alcohol provides 7 calories per gram. In contrast, carbohydrates (sugar and starch) provide 4 calories per gram and fat provides 9 calories per gram.

Alcohol may impair your judgment, which could lead to overeating. So, whether you are enjoying a TGIF social hour with friends, having dinner and cocktails with your coworkers, or sipping a drink at home to relax after a stressful day, you need to be mindful of how much you drink. After a few drinks, those peanuts, pretzels and hors d’oeuvres, or that quart of ice cream in the freezer could begin to look awfully tempting.

Weight Control
There are limited studies that look at the relationship between alcohol consumption, food intake and weight gain. One study that looked at a group of college students found that binge drinking was associated with poor diets, unhealthy weight control and sedentary behavior. The results of another study are more perplexing. The results of this study, which involved over 49,000 women and spanned a period of 12.9 years, showed that women who reported light to moderate alcohol consumption gained less weight and had a lower risk of becoming overweight or obese than nondrinkers. There could be a number of confounding factors that might explain these results, including the fact that this study was based on self-reported data.

What You Can Do to Lose Weight
If you must drink, here a few things that you can do to limit the number of calories you get from alcohol:
  • Switch to drinks that have fewer calories
  • Stretch your drink with non-caloric mixers, like sparkling water
  • Drink less often
  • Drink slowly to reduce the number of drinks you consume
  • If possible, spend more time in conversation and less time at the bar
  • Be prepared to say "No thanks" when offered another drink