Is Alcohol Sabotaging Your Results and Weight Loss?
You work hard all week, get in some great strength and cardio sessions, you eat healthy and count your calories and then...here comes the weekend! Do you find yourself overindulging and rewarding all that hard work with some cocktails? Alcohol can be a significant reason you are not seeing the results or weight loss you are hoping for--and more importantly--working so hard for.
Alcoholic drinks can be carb heavy, mainly high in sugar, but that isn’t the only factor when it comes to calories. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram and is the second highest calorie containing substance consumed behind fat, which has 9 calories per gram. That is nearly double the amount of calories found in 1 gram of carbohydrate at 4 calories per gram.
A standard drink containing 14 grams of alcohol is 98 calories. When tracking calories burned or consumed, do you account for those calories that come from your cocktails when trying to create a calorie deficit? Many don’t but even if you try, there is a good chance that you're underestimating the amount.
Here's some examples of the calories contained in common drinks. These are just estimates and the amounts may vary depending on how the drink is prepared.
A 5-ounce glass of wine has approximately 100 calories, which is not too bad but is your glass only 5 ounces full and are you actually measuring it when you pour? Think of a one cup, which equals 8 ounces...now picture your wine glass. It wouldn't be unusual for the typical pour to be more than 5 ounces. But let’s say it is 5 ounces and you have 4 glasses of wine. That would be and extra 400 calories and if your 4 glasses of wine really were closer to 8 ounces each, that's 160 calories per glass for a total of 640 calories.
Twelve ounces of light beer is about 110 calories while a regular beer is about 140 calories. If you have 5 beers over the course of an evening, that could add up to as much as 700 calories.
Mixed drinks typically contain one and a half ounces of liquor. The amount in a standard size shot glass has about 70-150 calories depending on the type of liquor. And then you have to account for the additional calories you mix it with. Here are some examples:
- 6 oz. Rum and Coke – 125 Calories
- 6 oz. Vodka and Soda – 65 Calories
- 10 oz. Bloody Mary – 180 Calories
- 7.5 oz. Gin and Tonic – 156 Calories
- 4 oz. Cosmopolitan – 213 Calories
- 10 oz. Margarita – 550 Calories
- 9 oz. Mai Tai – 620 Calories
- 12 oz. Piña Colada – 586 Calories
- 6 oz. Mud Slide – 556 Calories
- 10 oz. Long Island Ice Tea – 543 Calories
These calories can add up very quickly and in addition, consuming excess alcohol can lead to making eating choices without thinking. It's easy to see how all the effort you put into creating a calorie deficit during the week can be completely wiped out by your weekend choices.
If you choose to consume alcohol, be sure to factor it into your daily caloric intake. Alcohol can be part of a healthy eating and weight loss plan—when done in moderation and if the calories are accounted for. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men—and it is not advised to save them all for the weekend. Don't forget, one drink is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of liquor.
Changing your weekend habits can be challenging, especially since drinking cocktails can be a big part of your social environment. Try to cut back on the number of drinks you allow yourself or only allow yourself to drink one night and not the other night of the weekend. Doing so should help you to see the payoff from all of your hard work during the week.