How To Keep Alcohol From Ruining Your Health Efforts

Indulging in alcoholic beverages is a behavior that most adults participate in on a weekly basis. If you are trying to watch your figure and eating very healthy through out the week, sometimes these efforts can be cancelled out by your weekend behaviors. In order to curb the negative affects of drinking on your diet, follow these steps.

by Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD

Over the years, many of my clients have confided that too many cocktails on the weekend, followed by alcohol-induced overeating, cancels out their work-week healthy eating efforts. And as a result, instead of seeing results, they remain “stuck” in a weight loss plateau. Sound familiar? This trend is supported by a new UK survey, which found that in a single evening out on the town, 40% of women consume about 1,000 calories in alcohol alone. In addition, more than half say that imbibing makes them hungrier, and four in five admit that drinking diminishes their willpower, causing them to indulge in foods like burgers, pizza, and chips. If alcohol is your diet downfall, try putting these seven tips into action.

Next: Eat before you drink

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When your stomach is empty, alcohol is absorbed quickly, which means you’ll feel the effects within minutes. But eating something rich in lean protein and/or good fat, which are both digested and absorbed slowly, creates a buffer. So to curtail your tipsiness, nibble on something like a golf ball-sized portion of nuts, or fresh guacamole with veggies before you take your first sip.

Next: Count your drinks correctly

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If you count one drink as one of what you’re served, you may be greatly underestimating your intake. Technically, 12 oz of light beer (one bottle or can), 5 oz of red or white wine (a little smaller than a yogurt container), and 1 shot of liquor all pack about the same amount of alcohol, and each contains roughly 100 calories. But one study found that wine and liquor served at restaurants are about 40% larger than these standard drink portions. Another report, out last week, found that beer and wine contain higher alcohol levels these days, so when you order a drink out, you may be getting 50% more alcohol than you think. In addition, if you order a pint of beer (16 oz), you’ll get four extra ounces than one standard drink, and then there are mixed drinks that contain more than one shot (like those illustrious Long Island Iced Teas!). The lesson: if you underestimate your intake, you may be far tipsier than you think. That means not only more alcohol calories than you counted on, but also a loosier goosier state of mind than may seriously affect your appetite.

Next: Slim down your drink order

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If you’re a beer drinker, the type you order can have a big impact on your nutritional bottom line. A bottle or can of ultra low carb beer contains about 3-4 grams of carbs. But a regular version packs at least 10 grams, about as much as 10 mini pretzels. That means three a week adds up to an extra 1,560 grams of carb per year, the equivalent of nearly five loaves of bread. Drinks made with mixers are even bigger carb and calorie traps. Just four ounces (a half cup), of a sweetened mixer will cost you a whopping 25 grams of carb (about 14 gummy bears worth), and decadent drinks like a mudslide can contain over 500 calories, more than the amount a slice of chocolate cake.

Next: Slow your pace

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One of the biggest culprits in alcohol-driven overeating is getting too tipsy, too fast. To slow down the rise in your blood alcohol level, order a tall glass of water with every alcoholic drink. Alternate sips, and be sure to finish at least 12 ounces of H2O for every cocktail. This simple strategy may cut your total consumption in half.

Next: Prevent mindless munching

Source: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20757335,00.html

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