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Health Tips to Know When Drinking Alcohol

Author: Cara Walsh

August 18, 2014

Health Tips to Know When Drinking Alcohol

Author: Cara Walsh

August 18, 2014


Probably one of the most difficult parts of trying to lose weight is giving up alcohol. Drinking is a social activity and is often associated with having a good time or relaxing. Unfortunately, those extra calories add up to extra pounds on the scale and impede weight loss. Whether you are in the maintenance phase of the program or still trying to lose weight, this guide will help you to make the best choices possible when consuming alcohol. And just remember, everything can be enjoyed, but in moderation.


How is alcohol broken down in your body? Carbohydrates, proteins and fats can all be broken down by the body and used for energy, or for storage. Alcohol cannot stay in its natural state in the body and therefore must be metabolized immediately or it is used to produce fat. Alcohol is broken down and excreted by the liver.
What are the positives? Small amounts of alcohol can lower the risk for heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Resveratrol, found only in red wine, has been shown to prevent damage to blood vessels, increase HDL (good Cholesterol), reduce cholesterol levels and can reduce the risk of blood clots.  Some studies show that 12 oz of beer per day can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.


Good to know: 1, 5 oz glass of red wine is 122 calories. 1 glass of wine each night for a week = 854 calories. In one month that equates to 3,416 ‘empty’ calories or 1 lb of weight. 1 lb per month will accumulates to a 12 lb weight gain in one year! Also, there is no distinct difference in the calorie level between high end and inexpensive hard liquors.


What are the negatives? Alcohol consumption leads to intoxication—physical and mental changes due to alcohol intake—and dehydration. Alcohol lowers inhibitions and causes you to make poor choices that you wouldn’t when sober (i.e. eating that giant burrito). It also places stress on the liver because it has to work to break down toxins quickly. It also leads to obesity, hypo/hyperglycemia, heart disease, stroke, high BP, and other deadly conditions.


How much should I drink? It is recommended that women drink no more than one serving per day and men consume no more than two servings per day.

What is does ONE serving look like?

Alcohol Servings


Healthy Tips for Choosing Alcoholic Beverages

Here are some tips for minimizing the impact of a fun night out:


  1. Sip your drinks slowly! Choose drinks that you can drink slowly over a period of time. Drinking too quickly can cause you to feel intoxicated or take in more calories that you planned for.


  1. Eat a Meal. Make sure to eat a meal prior to drinking alcohol. Drinking after eating food gives your body a chance to process the alcohol. In addition, eating healthy snacks while drinking prevents the munchies later on and helps to keep you from drinking too much.


  1. Drink water. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that it causes you to lose water. Staying hydrated is important to keep you from feeling hungover and also keeps you from drinking too much. Try alternating alcoholic drinks with water to make sure you stay hydrated.


  1. Keep Track. It can be really easy to lose track of how much you’ve had to drink when out with friends or family. But you it is important to be conscious of how much you are drinking. If you need to, physically write it down on a piece of paper to make it easier. You should aim for no more than 1 drink per hour.


  1. Plan ahead for munchies after drinking. Let’s face it, it’s normal to be hungry after a night of drinking alcohol, and many people pick up a slice of pizza or other fast food meal because it’s quick and easy. However, this is a very easy way to derail your diet. If you know that you tend to get hungry after a night out, plan ahead with a healthy snack or meal that you are excited about eating.


  1. Choose healthier drinks. There are healthier options when it comes to your drink of choice:


  • Use low or no calorie mixers such as club soda or diet soda
  • The few ingredients – the better!
  • Choose drinks with no added sugar or salt (even on the rim!)
  • Avoid juices
  • The beer with the lowest calorie count is Michelob Ultra with 64 calories


Check out these common drinks and their calorie-saving versions:

Original Version Lightened Up Version
Regular Margarita: 400 kcals Skinny Margarita (sub lime juice): 100 kcals
Rum and Coke: 260 kcals Rum and Diet Coke: 92 kcals
Gin and Tonic: 255 kcals Gin and Diet Tonic: 65 kcals


Suggestions from the popular book: Drink this Not that!


Beach Cocktail Mojito: 160 calories, 15 g sugar Long Island Iced Tea: 700 calories, 40 g sugar
Classic Cocktail Bloody Mary: 150 calories, 10 g sugar Pina Colada: 625 calories, 70 g sugar
Beer Guinness: 130 calories, 1o carbs Sierra Nevada Pale Ale: 175 calories, 12 g carbs
Cocktail Cosmopolitan: 150 calories, 12 g sugar Margarita: 500 calories, 32 g sugar
Light Beer Beck’s Premier Light: 64 calories, 4 g carbs Bud Light: 110 calories, 7 g carbs


Alcohol doesn’t have to be a diet-breaker. If you plan ahead, you can easily stay on track with your healthy lifestyle!


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