Today we’re discussing alcohol in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. So cliche, I know…forgive me.
One gram of alcohol has 7 calories (in comparison, both protein and carbohydrates have 4 calories/g, and fat has 9 calories/g). Alcohol is considered a source of empty calories because it contains very small amounts of minerals and vitamins (red wine is a different story). Alcohol has also been called an “anti-nutrient nutrient” because alcohol often replaces nutrient-rich food and can interfere with the absorption of nutrients.
IS ALCOHOL A DRUG?
Why, yes it is! Classified as such, it is the most widely used drug in the word. Alcoholism and problem drinking is a big issue for us, with approximately 10-15 million Americans falling under that category. Most people, however, consume alcohol moderately or minimally.
Calories from imbibing alcohol can really, really add up. One night of drinking (even if it’s light beer) can take your calories way, way high. If you’re like me, drinking usually breaks down self-control barriers..hence 2 slices of pizza at 2am. So, it can all add up.
Check out these calorie counts from your favorite drinks (see source here):
|Beer, lite, 12 oz.||100|
|Beer, regular, 12 oz.||150|
|Frozen daiquiri, 4 oz.||216|
|Gin, 1.5 oz.||110|
|Mai tai, 4 oz.||310|
|Margarita, 4 oz.||270|
|Rum, 1.5 oz.||96|
|Vodka, 1.5 oz.||96|
|Whiskey, 1.5 oz.||105|
|Wine spritzer, 4 oz.||49|
|Wine, dessert, sweet, 4 oz.||180|
Check out that margarita, folks! Jimmy Buffet definitely didn’t mention that little tidbit in his song. And these are just calorie counts…many drinks, especially those mixed with sweetened fruit juices, have massive amounts of sugar, sending your blood sugar soaring…and later crashing.
Also, keep in mind that the following drink amounts have the SAME amount of alcohol:
12oz can beer = 5oz wine (which would mean there are 5 glasses of wine per bottle)= 1.5oz hard liquor.
I’m sure you’ve heard many of these before, but:
*Alternate drinking an alcoholic beverage with water.
*If at dinner, ask for your drink WITH your meal.
*Order “light” versions of beer, if you can stomach it.
*With hard liquor, drink it straight up (and dirty), or with club soda. Nix the fruity mixers and tonic.
*Don’t drink! Yes, it’s possible to have a fun time and not drink..or only limit yourself to 1. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, moderate drinking for women is no more than ONE alchoholic beverage per day, and for men, it’s TWO.
THANKS FOR BEING A BUZZ KILL. IS THERE ANYTHING BENEFICIAL ABOUT ALCOHOL?
Actually, yes. Studies show that moderate drinking (see above) may lower risk for coronary heart disease, mainly in men over 45 and women over 55. However, this is in combination with other factors, such as a healthy diet and exercise. Those who do not drink now should not start drinking to reap these benefits.
Red wine in particular is rich in antioxidants such as reservatrol, which is found in the skins of red grapes. Studies show it can aid in blood clotting and also raise good cholesterol (HDL) and lower bad cholesterol (LDL).
Again, I stress, if you don’t already drink modertately you should NOT start. Alcohol consumption can also may increase triglyceride levels (blood lipids), leading to heart disease and maybe even cancer.
So, St. Patty’s Day revelers, be safe! Drink in moderation…and if you absolutely won’t do that today, drink lots of water and be safe.
Oh, and for your nasty hangover tmw, Coconut Water is the BEST!
Ps. Check out this totally cute video on the ABC’s of alcohol
Entry filed under: nutrition.