Is Alcohol Your Weight Loss Enemy?

As Australians, it’s a social norm in most households to consume some alcohol. Whether it be weekends, social occasions or the odd couple on a week night, many Australian adults are consuming alcohol on a regular basis.

Could your alcohol intake be stopping you from losing weight?

Is your alcohol consumption within the current recommendations?

Drinking alcohol in moderation can be a part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle. It has even been noted that a single drink daily can pose some potential health benefits. However, larger quantities on frequent occasions may be contributing to your excess kilos. On top of the food you consume each day, alcohol acts as excess and unnecessary calories which provide no nutritional value.

Alcohol is now the most widely used recreational drug in Australia.

When consumed, the metabolism of alcohol is prioritised over digestion of food as it is treated by the body as a toxin. Alcohol is absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the walls of the stomach and small intestine, where it is rapidly distributed to all parts of the body including the brain. It takes approximately 1 hour for the liver to break down 1 standard drink.

With long term health in mind, our current Australian Guidelines recommend:

• No more than 2 standard drinks on any given day with;
• At least 2 alcohol free days per week.
• The lifetime risk of harm from alcohol increases with quantity consumed.

These guidelines have been developed by medical experts to help reduce short and long term health risks associated with alcohol misuse.

How many calories are you drinking?

  • Per gram, alcohol contains nearly twice the calories of protein and carbohydrates
    (alcohol = 7Cal/gram protein and fat = 4Cal/gram).
  • 1 standard drink contains 10g of pure alcohol, equivalent of 70 calories
    (not including the calories from the fluid this alcohol exists in).
  • 160mL 12% alcohol champagne (medium glass) = 119 calories. 1 bottle = 556 calories.
  • 1 schooner (450mL) full strength beer (4.9% alcohol) = 162 calories.
  • 1 rum & cola can (375mL) 4.6% alcohol = 248 calories.
  • 160mL (medium glass) of 12% alcohol wine = 109 calories. 1 bottle = 510 calories.
  • 1 vodka cruiser (275mL) 4.6% alcohol = 173 calories.

Reducing your daily calorie intake by around 480 calories per day, will in theory illicit 0.5-1kg of weight loss in a week. This is equivalent to cutting out 2 cans of rum and coke each day! Take a look at your weekly alcohol intake and see how the numbers add up.

Alcohol should be enjoyed in moderation. If your intake is regularly above the recommendations, perhaps you should consider a reduction, which will not only save you some calories, but will also save you some coins! Talk to your Accredited Practicing Dietitian about where alcohol fits into your healthy lifestyle and how you may be able to reach your weight loss goals.

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