If you want to lose weight – or at least not put on too much extra weight – there is one thing you can do that is almost certain to help. That's right: cutting alcohol for weight loss is inevitable. It is self-evident when you think about it, and arguably not that easy, but it will give positive results, and perhaps it might not have occurred to you before.
No one needs a lecture about why alcohol is bad for your health, but I think many of you don't realise how consuming alcohol affects your diet and weight loss. Or your weight gain, more accurately. How to avoid weight gain at home? Cut back on the booze now.
Long term weight loss is only achievable with a combination of a healthy (not calorie-restricted!) diet and exercising. That said, especially now that we often stay indoors for longer than we used to, eating the same amount of food as before will result in weight gain. We simply burn fewer calories when we don't walk everywhere. No news there. Avoiding these 5 types of food can also help you lose weight faster.
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How many calories are in alcohol?
There are many misconceptions about alcohol, and as I mentioned above, I'm not here to lecture anyone about just how bad it is to consume alcoholic beverages. Sure, some types of alcohol contain certain micronutrients (like minerals) that can benefit health, but this doesn't outweigh the negative effects of these drinks.
One crucial thing to realise about alcohol is that it is basically pure carbohydrate. Carbs are one of the three main macronutrients your body needs to function; the other two are lipids (fats) and protein. This doesn't mean your body needs alcohol to function; on the contrary. Drinking alcohol adds nothing to your diet. Alcohol calories are just 'empty calories'.
Just how many calories, though? There are a few options that are considered "low-calorie" drinks, like vodka and diet coke. Although diet coke can be considered free of calories (still pretty bad in every way), a double shot (50 ml) of vodka contains over 100 calories (opens in new tab). You would have to run 10 minutes to burn off those calories, and that is just one drink.
How about beer? A small bottle (12 oz/355 ml) of Goose Island IPA is 208 calories (opens in new tab), twice as much as what's in a double shot vodka plus diet coke combo. And whoever has only one small bottle of beer when they drink? That's right, no one.
Maybe wine? A bottle (750 ml) of Cabernet Sauvignon is just under 600 calories (opens in new tab), meaning that two medium glasses (approx. 175 ml) contain around 250-300 calories.
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Calories in different alcoholic drinks
We used the Drinkaware Unit and Calorie Calculator (opens in new tab) to calculate the below numbers.
Type of alcohol
- Beer (pint): 182 calories
- Cider (pint): 216 calories
- Wine (175 ml/medium glass): 159 calories
- Champagne (125 ml glass): 89 calories
- Prosecco (125 ml glass): 82 calories
- Spirits (generic, single shot): 61 calories
For the rest, we used MyfitnessPal's database (opens in new tab) and the manufacturers websites.
- Bombay Gin (1oz/28 ml): 59 calories
- Smirnoff Red Vodka (1oz/28 ml): 65 calories
- Jose Cuervo Especial (1oz/28 ml): 65 calories
- Bacardi Rum (1oz/28 ml): 65 calories
- Famous Grouse Scotch (1oz/28ml): 64 calories
- Schweppes Tonic Water (250 ml/one serving): 53 calories
- Fever-Tree Naturally Light Tonic Water (200ml/one bottle): 30 calories
- Diet Coke (330 ml/one can): 0 calories
- Coke (330 ml/one can): 139 calories
- Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice (250 ml/one serving): 110 calories
- Tropicana Original Orange Juice (250 ml/one serving): 95 calories
- San Pellegrino Sparkling Water (250ml/one serving): 0 calories
How can you drink less alcohol?
The best idea is to keep your alcohol consumption to a minimum. Being mindful of your diet and food/drink intake can help. Before you pour yourself another drink, ask yourself: do I want another drink? Am I bored? Is there another task I'm putting off by drinking?
Admittedly, it is pretty challenging to get out of drinking at least some alcohol on some occasions, especially during social gatherings. When everyone has beers and wines around you, the social pressure on you to have one too could be immense. Even in these cases, there are ways to reduce consumption.
If you are a wine drinker, have a soda spritzer instead of just a glass of wine. You would still get the sensation of having wine in a wine glass, but you also drink plenty of water, which dilutes the alcohol and makes it easier for your body to digest it more efficiently.
If you are more of a beer drinker, check if the establishment you're visiting has any low calorie/alcohol-free beers in stock. A bottle of alcohol-free Holstein is only 8 calories (opens in new tab) (!), and there are plenty of low-cal options out there, especially if you live in the US.
And in any case, if you drink a glass of water after you had a drink, your stomach will fill up sooner, and you will feel fuller sooner, making you less likely to drink too much alcohol. It also helps with hangovers too.