Can You Lose Weight Without Giving Up Beer and Wine? - Virtua Article

Can You Lose Weight Without Giving Up Beer and Wine?

Watching calories isn’t fun. Because—let’s face it—you’d rather watch the football game on your flat-screen TV with a remote in one hand and a ice cold beer in the other. But, before you know it, you’re like the bearded guy on those Dos Equis commercials. You may not always drink beer when you’re trying to be healthy, but when you do, your six-pack abs morph into an unflattering keg.

Alcohol is a notorious source of hidden or empty calories. Alcoholic drinks don’t have any nutritional value, and consuming more than two a day can wreak havoc on your waistline and your health.

According to a 2012 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol accounts for about 5 percent of adults’ caloric intake. Men consumed 150 calories from alcohol each day—nearly 3 times more than women. And, it’s no surprise that the most preferred alcoholic beverage for men was beer. The study also noted that men between ages 20 to 39 consumed the most calories from alcoholic drinks than any other age segment.

Not all alcoholic beverages are created equal

Different styles of beer, wine and spirits vary in calories. This chart shows how many calories are in the most popular alcoholic beverages:

Beverage

Serving Size
(fl. oz.)

Calories (average)

Beer (regular)

12

153

Beer (light)

12

103

Gin, rum, vodka, whiskey, tequila

1.5

97

Brandy, cognac

1.5

98

Liqueurs

1.5

165

Wine (red)

5

125

Wine (white)

5

121

Sherry

3.5

75

Port

2

90

Champagne

4

84

Vermouth, sweet

3

140

Vermouth, dry

3

105

Martini (traditional)

2.25

124

Martini (extra dry)

2.25

139

Cosmopolitan

2.75

146

Mojito

6

143

Margarita

4

168

Piña Colada

9

490

Manhattan

3.5

164

Daiquiri

2

112

Whiskey Sour

3.5

160

*Info from Rethinking Drinking website, National
Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

While most regular 12-ounce beers are around 150 calories per serving, certain craft beers can nearly double that amount. A craft beer like a chocolate oatmeal stout is delicious, but it has more than 300 calories. These beers are higher in calories because they’re made with variety of hops and grains, and they contain higher carbs and alcohol levels (usually 7 to 10 percent alcohol by volume and higher, compared to 5 percent or lower in regular beer).

If you enjoy the taste of beer but want to decrease your caloric intake, grab a light beer instead. These beers have 100 calories or less:

  • Budweiser Select 55 (55 calories)
  • Miller 64 (64 calories)
  • Michelob Ultra Amber (90 calories)
  • Coors Light, Corona Light, Michelob Ultra, Miller Lite (100 calories)

How drinking alcohol adds to weight gain

People are usually surprised how many calories they consume when they drink alcohol. It can add up fast. Men say that it goes right to their waist, and it does. That’s because high-calorie drinking is often paired with eating high-calorie foods like Buffalo wings, French fries, nachos and chips.

If you’re trying to lose weight, you don’t have to stop enjoying an alcoholic drink now and then. Moderation is the key.

Keep in mind: To lose 1 pound a week, you need to consume 500 fewer calories a day than the body burns. If you consume 100 calories more than you burn per day, you could put on 10 additional pounds over a one-year span. Just one or two drinks a day could be the difference between a beer belly or six-pack abs.

Tips for drinking alcohol while being mindful of calories

If you’re looking to shed pounds but don’t want to give up your favorite alcoholic drinks, here are some helpful tips:

  • Don’t let the empty calories in alcohol sneak up on you. Know how many calories are in your favorite beverages and modify the amount as needed.
  • If you have a drink or two (or more), keep in mind what else you’re consuming. Snacks and bar food can be more damaging to your waist than alcohol.
  • Watch what else you’re putting in your beverages, particularly mixed drinks. Juices, syrups, sodas and liqueurs may make your drink taste better, but they can be calorie bombs. Instead, opt for a splash of juice or seltzer water. For distilled spirits like vodka and whiskey, it’s better to drink them on the rocks with a citrus twist.
  • Drink slowly. Just like you should eat slower (mindful eating), you should do the same when you’re drinking. Gulping down a drink in record pace will cause you to drink past your limit.
  • Drink water or seltzer water between beverages to dilute your alcohol intake.
  • Look ahead at your calendar and take note of upcoming events where you might be drinking. If you know you’re going to the bar with your buddies on the weekend, try to limit or cut out the alcohol you might normally consume during the week.  

Let a Virtua registered dietitian help you with healthy eating

Eating well doesn't mean giving up all your favorite foods and drinks and existing on salad alone. Virtua's registered dietitians work with your food preferences and lifestyle to customize a healthy eating plan that works for you. 

Call 1-888-VIRTUA-3 to make an appointment. 

Updated August 15, 2017

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