Well the holidays are here in full force!
With that comes all the celebrations and fun times with family and friends. All the food, all the desserts, and all the festive alcoholic drinks. Don’t worry girl, I promise I’m not here to ruin all your holiday fun or take away your spiked eggnog!
There is definitely room in the diet for alcoholic beverages if you want them, but when consumed too frequently, they can poorly impact your nutrition, health, and weight management efforts.
The Nutrition Content of Alcohol
To begin, let’s talk nutrition on alcohol, shall we? There are 7 calories per gram of alcohol while there are only 4 calories per gram of protein and carbohydrates and 9 calories per gram of fat. Did you realize alcohol has nearly as many calories per gram as fat does? Many people think (or want to think) it’s basically water, but nope. Sadly it is not.
As we know, alcoholic drinks come in all varieties. Some come with high calorie, high sugar mixers while some such as wine or plain ole alcohol are a little lighter. On average, you can count on 1 drink having 100-150 calories or more. A 5 oz glass of wine is about 125 calories whereas sugary drinks like a margarita can come with 500 calories! That’s like two candy bars or a Big Mac y’all!
I have to tell you a story about one of my clients who loves wine and the discovery we made when she started 1:1 coaching with me.
We’ll call her Sheila for funsies. Though this is not specifically related to holiday drinks, I think it’s an important story to share. Sheila came to me looking to lose weight and feel better. She couldn’t quite figure out why she was struggling to lose weight when she felt she was cutting way back on her portion sizes and eating healthier. Can you relate?
When we really dove into her daily routine, I learned that Sheila enjoyed having a few glasses of wine each night to wind down. Now….. is it okay to have a glass of wine each night if you want? Of course! But we found that Sheila was drinking about 3 glasses each night which was adding about 375 calories to her daily intake, making up just over 20% of her daily caloric needs. Not to mention she then always needed chocolate to go with her wine which was adding extra calories as well. So let me break down the math on this…. Sheila was drinking 375 calores in wine every night. Over the course of one year this is 136,875 calories which equals just over 39 lbs. WOW. That’s perspective, huh?!
So what did Sheila do? She decreased her wine intake and started drinking just one glass each night. She did this and instantly noticed she was losing about 0.5 lb-1 lb each WEEK with no other changes to her diet. She was sleeping better, she had more energy during the days, and just felt better overall.
Like the old Sheila, I know many people don’t limit themselves to just 1 drink, especially around the holidays! There are so many more parties and get togethers, wine advent calendars, and literally all the things.
Side Effects of Excessive Alcohol That Affects Your Nutrition
Besides the caloric content of alcohol, drinking alcohol also inhibits decision making abilities and can lead us to make poor food choices that we wouldn’t have made otherwise. Did you know that alcohol can also decrease the absorption of many vitamins and minerals? This is due to the alcohol irritating your gut lining and preventing absorption. Over time, excessive alcohol intake can increase your risk of cancer, damage your liver causing cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), steatosis (fatty liver), can cause cardiomyopathy (weak heart muscles), high blood pressure, and can lead to stroke.
So while I’m not here to ruin your holiday fun or to tell you not to drink alcohol (I promise I’m not!), I do want you to consider the volume of alcohol you’re drinking and how that may be affecting your overall health and nutrition goals.
So what’s the best plan this holiday season?
Here’s what I recommend! Limit yourself to 1-2 drinks and make sure it’s something you actually like! If you don’t like what you’re drinking, why are you drinking it?
Drink water in between drinks to keep yourself hydrated. Alcohol naturally dehydrates so make sure you’re having enough water to offset that.
Eat a well-balanced diet and don’t skip meals.
This holiday season, just remember, food and drinks are meant to be enjoyed! If you feel like you struggle with overindulging on holiday cocktails, try drinking fewer and make sure you’re only drinking drinks you really enjoy!