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Wine and beer... Oh dear.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but unfortunately alcohol and fat loss don’t go hand in hand. If you are trying to lose weight then alcohol can severely interfere with your progress and your efforts to make healthy food choices.

Here’s why:

Alcohol and calories

When we think of calories, most of us automatically think of the calories contained in food. We often forget that drink contains calories too and, in alcohol’s case, quite a lot of them.

And that’s before you’ve added the calories from mixers such as Coca Cola or orange juice.

The calories in alcohol are labelled as ‘empty calories’ as they have no nutritional value, i.e. they provide us with no vitamins and minerals.

Many of the calories in alcohol drinks are simple sugary carbohydrates; the rest comes from the alcohol itself, which contains 7 calories per gram. This is nearly as high as fat which contains 9 calories per gram.

To give you an idea of the calorie content of alcohol, let’s have a look at the calories contained in a few popular drinks:

- A pint of 5% beer contains 215kcal: the same as a pack of McCoy’s Salted Crisps

- A 175ml glass of 12% wine contains 126kcal: the same as 1 Cadbury Heroes miniature bar

- A 25ml single shot of Captain Morgan’s rum with regular Coca Cola contains 117 calories: the same as a lightly buttered slice of toast

You can find out the calorie content of your favourite tipple using Drink Aware’s Unit & Calorie Calculator.

Alcohol and the body

The effects of alcohol go far beyond the effect of the calories consumed, as alcohol interrupts many of your body’s natural processes. It alters how you metabolise food, affects the quality and quantity of your sleep and impinges on your ability to make rational food choices.

That’s why, when alcohol is involved, ordering cheesy chips and a pizza from the local takeaway is often difficult to resist.

The morning after the night before

The effects of alcohol last well into the next day; as those who have experienced awful hangovers know all too well. Having alcohol in your system reduces the ability of your cardiovascular system to work as normal, which reduces your capacity to exercise. This means your workouts won’t be as effective as they would usually be.

Dehydration will also affect your ability to workout. As alcohol causes you to urinate frequently, you lose more fluid than your body is taking in. This leads to dehydration which causes your metabolism to slow down. This is bad news for your fat loss efforts.

Alcohol and keeping lean

Cutting alcohol from your lifestyle completely will make a considerable difference to your weight loss efforts. However, if you don’t want to cut out alcohol completely, try the following strategies:

  • Limit alcohol intake to one to two drinks, one to two times a week maximum

  • Exercise before you consume alcohol. This will raise your metabolic rate which means your body will get rid of toxins and metabolise calories quicker

  • Ensure you stay hydrated by drinking water before, during and after consuming alcohol. This will reduce the effects the alcohol will have on your body the next day.


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