Is Alcohol Making You Fat?


Along with chocolate and cake, alcohol is perhaps the most frequently asked about and challenging dietary change for people to make. A daily glass or two is often clung to desperately either to make it through the day or at least appear to help to. The truth is that in such cases, alcohol is more likely to be a false crutch and a nasty habit than a positive life addition.
Alcohol contains 7 calories or 27kJ per gram which is more than carbohydrates and protein, and slightly less than fat which has 9 calories or 37kJ per gram. The issue with alcohol and weight control is that as the body identifies alcohol as a toxin, it processed it before the other three nutrients which in turn mean that any food consumed with the alcohol, fatty food in particular, are more likely to be stored. If we were to drink a glass of wine occasionally or sip on a spirit over an hour there would be no issue, but the truth is that people are much more likely to polish off an entire bottle of wine in one sitting, or binge drink regularly which in turn can a significant effect on blood glucose levels, insulin levels and body weight. 
It is recommended that adults aim for no more than two standard drinks each day with at least two alcohol free days each week for health and disease prevention. One of the most pertinent issues when it comes to considering the role of alcohol in one’s life is the fact that our “standard drinks” have very rapidly become jumbo sized drinks. A traditional 120ml glass of wine now more commonly enjoyed as a 250ml goblet while it is not uncommon for a couple to polish off a bottle of their favourite red with dinner each night. Not only does this become a difficult habit to break, it also tends to mean a number of kg in extra weight that accumulates over time. 
The good news is that as is the case with all areas of nutrition, it is possible to strike a balance between enjoyment, health and weight control when it comes to alcohol consumption. One of the simple things you can do in an attempt to control your intake is invest in some smaller glasses. Research has shown that we tend to drink significantly less if we drink out of a tall slim glass, than if we drink out of a short, wider one. Next, always try and finish one glass of alcohol before you start another. If you prefer spirits always look for low kilo joule mixers such as lime, soda water and diet soft drinks or try the low carbohydrate and low alcohol beer and wines to cut out a few extra kilojoules. Finally, when it comes to weight control, you are far better to aim for more alcohol free days each week as opposed to limiting yourself to just one each day. Sometimes an alcohol free period is just what is required to kick start weight loss for individuals who drink regularly. 
Calories/Kilojoules in commonly consumed alcoholic drinks. Remember we need 1500-2000 calories or 6000-8000 kJ on average a day.
  • Small glass of wine: 375 kJ
  • Small glass champagne: 355kJ
  • Glass low alcohol wine: 320kJ
  • Large (typical glass of wine): 650kJ
  • 2 regular beers: 1200kJ
  • Low carbohydrate beer: 450kJ
  • Pre mix spirit: 700kJ
  • Bourbon & Cola: 500kJ
  • Bourbon & Diet Cola: 290kJ

Susie Burrell

Please note: This blog aims to supply user-friendly nutrition information for busy people without comprising on food taste and quality but should be used as a guide only and not in place of advice from your own dietitian or medical specialist. For further information on this topic, please consult your health professional. The content of this blog, including attachments, may be privileged and confidential. Any un-authorised use of this content is expressly prohibited. Any views that are expressed in this message are those of the individual sender, except where the sender expressly, and with authority, states them to be the views of Susie Burrell Pty Ltd.
Category: Nutrition

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