Moderate alcohol consumption can be good. Some studies suggest a glass of beer or wine a day can actually be very good for your health. But drinking too much can have an affect on your health in many ways, including your weight.
Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram. That’s a lot, especially when you consider that every gram of carb or protein is equal to 4 calories, and every gram of fat is equal to 9 calories. Unlike carbs, protein and fat, our body can’t metabolize alcohol in the same way. If our body needs energy, it turns food (literally) it can use. If you’re eating all the calories your body needs, then you add on a few drinks, you’ll likely gain weight. Here is an idea of how much.
Your Favorite Drinks & Pounds You *Could* Gain Over One Year!
1 drink/ week
3 drinks/ week
5 drinks/ week
|Rum & Coke|
|Vodka & OJ|
|Mojito (on ice)|
|Bailey’s on the Rocks|
Note: for reference, 8 oz = 1 cup
How Alcohol Can Make You Gain Weight
If all calories were created equal, and you looked at the chart above, weight gain would make sense. And, in fact, weight gain DOES happen from drinking too much. But since our body doesn’t breakdown alcohol like any other food, alcohol makes our body gain weight in other ways. Here is where alcohol and weight gain come into play. First of all, if you’re a moderate consumer of alcohol, it is highly unlikely that you’re drinking a beverage that is pure alcohol. In other words, your cocktail probably contains carbs, and occasionally contains fat. Those are added calories. And if you go above and beyond what your body needs for energy for the day, those extra calories are going to stick around.
Second, and more importantly, alcohol metabolism blocks the metabolism of fat…temporarily! So if you eat a big piece of cheesy pizza along with two glasses of wine (containing roughly 26 grams of alcohol, or 182 calories), your body has to first burn those 182 calories before it can start breaking down the calories from the cheesy pizza. (Check out my YouTube video to hear me explain this…and to watch my first ever video).
Other studies suggest that drinking too much can adversely affect insulin metabolism. If you mess around with your insulin, you’re going to screw up your blood sugar levels, too. If that happens, weight gain almost always occurs.
The Benefits of Moderate Alcohol Consumption
Studies have shown that moderate alcohol consumption can be beneficial on cognitive and cardiovascular function. That said, the benefits are in small dosages, not large amounts.
If you’re going to have a drink, and want to watch your waistline, consume beverages that are lower in sugar. Higher sugar drinks, like schnapps-based or juice-based cocktails should be curbed. Also, while I’m not one to promote anything “low fat,” alcohol and fat don’t mix. The next time you have a glass of red wine, pair it with a red sauce instead of an Alfredo!
Want more tips like this? Traci D Mitchell is a healthy living and fitness expert. Follow Traci on Facebook. She’d love to see you there! Interested in working with Traci? She works privately with clients specializes in nutrition coaching and weight loss as well as functional fitness and personal training. All sessions are done via Skype or telephone if outside of Chicago. For more information, contact Traci here.