Two important questions are addressed in this article:
How much alcohol should I drink, and can you drink alcohol and lose weight?
So many people find drinking too much alcohol can be their downfall when it comes to weight loss, that it’s important to understand the answers to these questions.
One of the things I often hear is ‘do I have to give up drinking to get in control of my weight?’, followed by ‘how much alcohol should I drink?’.
There’s a simple answer to the first question; the second one’s a bit more complicated. But the first questions first.
Do I have to give up drinking to get in control of my weight?
A glass of wine, a bottle of beer, and a shot of spirits all roughly contain the same amount of calories, between 100-150.
A glass of wine adds fewer calories to your diet than most eating treats, such as:
– a regular size packet of potato chips
– a morning muffin
– a bar of chocolate
The reality is that one measure of alcohol doesn’t add that many calories to most people’s diets. So, if you can control your drinking to a single glass of wine or a single beer, then you can treat yourself to a drink AND lose some weight.
Now to the second question.
How much alcohol should I drink?
It’s important to know that the alcohol content in wine and beer has increased over the years so that nowadays a standard glass of wine is often less than 100ml!
Measure out 100ml into a glass and you’ll be pretty amazed at how little that is (it’s less than the little bottles of wine you get on a plane), so the chances are you’re going to have a second glass of wine, which obviously adds in some extra calories and doubles your alcohol intake.
It’s the same with beer; you’d be hard pushed to find a bottle of beer that only contained one unit of alcohol.
Another important point is that alcohol can’t be stored and must be metabolised, which means that your body will favour using alcohol as a fuel source rather than protein, carbohydrates or even fat.
Because your body has no metabolic requirement for alcohol, you really are taking in empty calories.
On a behavioural level, what tends to happen once you’ve knocked back a glass or two? If you’re like most people, your ‘care factor’ about making good food choices goes down the drain and your cravings for pizza, chips and double portions increases.
Add to that the ‘I may as well have another‘ or ‘let’s just finish the bottle‘ scenario, and you’ve just taken a step backwards in all your good work towards your weight goals.
The biggest, and often most overlooked, a problem about having more alcohol than you should is what it does to your mindset.
Alcohol is the best friend of that little voice inside of your head that beats you up, calls you names and negates all of your successes.
The day after you’ve had a few drinks, you may feel quite lousy chances are you feel much worse mentally. Are you really saying I should quit drinking?
I’m not saying you should quit, it really is possible to enjoy a few drinks a week and get to your weight goals.
BUT, you must be truthful with yourself about:
Moderation is the name of the game when it comes to alcohol, but if you really can’t moderate your drinking you should seriously consider giving up completely.
While I am able to enjoy just one glass of red, if you’re a ‘let’s just finish the bottle’ type of person, you may need to think twice about your alcohol intake. Try this:
– drinking only one glass of wine or one beer in one sitting, and see if you can stop at that
– having 3 nights off drinking every week
– Not binge drinking at the weekend (a bottle of wine to yourself is not ‘just a few drinks’).
2. Your portion sizes
If you have no idea what 100ml looks like, get yourself a measuring jug and be astounded about how small a serve that really is. Check out the alcohol content in your wine and beer, so you can get educated about how much alcohol you’re really consuming
3. Mindset awareness
Be more aware of what you say to yourself the day after you’ve had a few drinks. Are you kind, loving and considerate of yourself, or do you spend half the day beating yourself up? To me, this is the biggest motivator to not drink too much.