October 29, 2012
Alcohol Calories Count!

Why do beer bellies occur? Have you not changed your eating habits but somehow are gaining weight? Perhaps you are going to parties more, drinking more alcohol? Because of how alcohol is metabolized, shifts occur in the body's ability to generate energy. Instead the cells make fatty acids and glycerol, the building blocks to fat. These metabolic shifts lend the body to store fat in most tissues. That's right so even if you try and not eat while drinking, you will still gain fat as it is a fat promoting liquid.  Plus, alcohol has a tendency to stimulate the hunger pathway, leaving you ravenous and looking for more food on top of the alcohol calories you have already eaten.  And just to let you know the liver processes most of the alcohol and with alcohol excess will eventually become fatty. The kidneys and lining of the heart also have a tendency to accumulate lipids that interfere with functioning.

Just to let you know an average drink for example, 5 oz wine, 1.5 oz hard liquor, 12 oz beer or wine cooler, is 15 grams of alcohol. So for each drink there are about 100 calories. Now consider excess daily caloric intakes above what you expend do add up. Only 100 extra calories a day can put on 10 pounds a year! The tendency of the calories from alcohol to generate fat rather than be used as energy is greater because of how it is processed

According to calorie king here are some of your possible favorite alcoholic drinks and their calorie content.  Are you surprised?  Are you a wine drinker, beer drinker or hard liquor drinker.  I will be honest beer is the best deal when it comes to its calorie content in correlation with its volume (12 oz for 146 calories roughly).  But of course the questions is, do you stop at just one beer? 

Caloric Values of Typical Drinks:
Beverage Amount kcal

Beer 12 oz 146
Light Beer 12 oz 99
Hard Liquor 1 oz 64
Red wine 5 oz 102
White wine 5 oz 100
Martini 3 oz 189
Gin and Tonic 8 oz 160
Margarita 3 oz 180
Pina Colada 5 oz 245
Daiquiri 7 oz 260
Alcohol is energy dense (high in calories) but almost completely lacking in nutrients ("empty calories"). Alcohol is 7 calories per gram that is closer to fat at 9 calories per gram than compared to carbohydrates and proteins which are 4 calories per gram.

When losing weight the best way to go is no alcohol to keep you on track and preventing you from keeping that beer belly.  If you are watching your weight, choose a light beer or wine over a mixed drink. If you prefer a mixed drink, opt for diet soda or plain soda water as a mixer. Beware of drinks made with cream or sugary liquors such as Irish Cream or Kahlua. Be aware of drink volume, quantity, and ingredients to make a healthy choice. Note the paradox of alcohol in moderation. Intakes of less than 1 drink for women and only 1 drink for men per day can raise good cholesterol (HDL) and lower total blood cholesterol which favors a decrease in cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. Red wine and beer to a lesser extent, provide beneficial phytochemicals (polyphenols) when consumed in moderation. However, alcohol consumption carries many more health risks than benefits if overused or abused.

My basic recommendation to you is to consume at most 3 alcoholic drinks per week.  Any more than that and you will most likely begin to see the scale trend upwards as well as your body fat percentage increase.

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