Posted under: Body
And just maybe, there’s a connection between that six-pack in the fridge and the lack of one on my gut. In fact, I’m getting the feeling that most alcoholic drinks pack more punch to the gut than I might wish. Let’s take a look at the mythical relationship between my drinking and my ‘beer’ gut.
Is Drinking Alcohol Making Me Fat?
Fatter? Probably, assuming you drink the stuff regularly. Or is it how I am drinking alcohol that is making me feel a little more beer around my belly than in it? The truth is that there has got to be a way to enjoy a drink without a ‘double shot’ of regret the next day. Men like their drink; there is no denying that. In fact, 62% of American men drink alcohol regularly.
Light or moderate drinking can benefit a person’s health, but heavy drinking increases the risk of a whole host of problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disorders, certain cancers, and liver disease. So let’s be clear here, weight gain, health issues and a hangover - there must be another way?
Here’s the deal with alcohol and our bodies: the calories in alcohol are metabolized first by the body, ahead of burning any fat. Hence, why it’s one of the contributors to the proverbial beer gut you find on longer-term drinkers. Let’s take a look at some of the ‘usual suspects’ in the drink menu that can contribute to this result.
Take just one example: The average beer contains 150 calories; drink one every night of the week and you have racked up over a 1000 calories a week, 4000 calories in one month. 3500 calories equals one pound. And who drinks only one beer? Or only beer? Research on the amount of alcohol in any given drink varies considerably, so check out the list below recognizing they are not absolutes. Further, add an olive or a lime, or any other variation and the calorie count changes.
Beer/Lager Leader Board: Regular beers are going to run between 145- 220 per 12 oz bottle.
Budweiser 145 Bud Select 55 55 (lowest calorie beer)
Miller Gen. Draft 145 Miller Lite 64 64
Sam Adams IPA 175 Sam Adams Lite 145 (ouch!)
Anchor Porter 210 Busch Lite 95
Wine Comparison: Wine can range between 75-110 calories per 120 ml, but wine sound classier while you’re getting fat.
Champagne 120 Red Wine 80
White Dry 85 Rose Wine 85
Hard Liquor: Spirits in themselves tend to have a relatively low calorie count per shot, averaging between 55-70, but the mixers and things thrown in can easily double that.
Vodka & Orange juice 125 Vodka & Tonic 90
Bacardi & Coke 130 Bacardi & Diet Coke 65
Jack Daniels & Coke 130 Jack Daniels & Diet Coke 66
Southern & Lemonade 75 Southern & Diet Lemonade 50
Some Other Manly Mixes: These can run the gamut from between 100-700 calories - but drink lady servings as measured below. But then again, who drinks a lady’s portion? Jeez! Hence some calorie ranges.
Pina Colada 280 - 600 Martini 155
Long Island 275 Margarita 150 -650
Mojito 200 Bloody Mary 100
White Russian 400
Well, you get the picture. A steady diet of alcohol can have a significant impact on the waistline over time. On a night on the town, one can see that it is not hard to run up 1000 calories. Then add the munchies and perhaps a full meal and you’re ‘to the moon, Alice!’ So, here’s a couple of things to keep in mind in order to tame this beast.
Keeping Cool in the Alcohol Pool
1) Alternate: Switch between drinking your beverage of choice and soda water with lime or just plain water. This keeps you hydrated and cuts down on calories by fifty percent (because you drink fifty percent less alcohol). Not only will your ‘abs’ feel the difference, your head will thank you in the morning.
2) Be Choosy: It may be wise to choose something that is light versus one of your regular high sugar, high calorie drinks. So go with light beer, wine and low calorie mixer cocktails. Stuff like diet soda, light juice and soda water are zero calories.
3) Skip it: Ordering drinks with ‘light’ or ‘diet’ mixers doesn’t exactly shout manly, so you could always just skip the mixer. Pure spirits is a sure way to grow hair on your chest. Well, metaphorically speaking anyhow. If you are still worried about swallowing pure liquor, never fear there are plenty of flavored spirits that go down smooth like your favorite cough medicine.
4) Dilute: Club soda and sparkling water are great additions of fizz to your cocktail. This easily makes wine spritzers the low calorie companion. Mixing your vodka with a piece of fruit and some sparkling water is not only a calorie savior but puts you in the league of James Bond- which isn’t all bad.
5) Plan ahead: Always drink a glass of water to hydrate before you start the night, so you don’t chug your first few drinks. Make a game plan for your drinking habits in advance: alternating, drinking light, skipping mixers or diluting. This will keep you in control and your hands away from fattening snacks - often associated with drinking and tons more calories.
Remember these drinks are in average measures and somewhat on the low side of typical volumes. Some places promote specials that are the equivalent to upsizing at the local burger chain. These ‘Xtras’ can add 1000+ calories per drink!
When it comes to weight gain and alcohol it isn’t always about the calorie count. Alcohol often causes people to eat more and we’re not talking celery or carrot sticks!
Again, our bodies process alcohol before fats, protein or carbs which means drinking slows down the body’s ability to burn fat. And lastly, some alcoholic beverages contain calories and carbs. So, there is more to the ‘fat’ story!