Boozing is very much part of our culture in the UK. It feels impossible to meet friends without having a drink and many social activities and clubs can end with a bar meeting. Alcohol is calorific and has to be dealt with by the body straight away. Every time I’ve dieted seriously, I have had to cut back on alcohol or cut out alcohol entirely to get good results. Here is why you should cut down on alcohol:
1. A gram of alcohol has 7 calories
By comparison a gram of protein and carb has 4 calories and a gram of fat has 9 calories. When you drink, it is very likely that you are doing so for the sake of doing it or to be sociable. Our ancestors had the excuse of needing to ingest scarce calories from any source. We do not really need to drink alcohol. A pint of lager (4% ABV) is about 180 calories and so a good session down the pub will add almost 1000 dead calories to your daily intake.
2. Alcohol affects your metabolism
Alcohol has to be dealt with by the body straight away, which means the other calories in your intake may well be getting stored (an over simplification, but see here). Alcohol will make you feel hungrier as well, so you may end up over eating as well as consuming additional calories from the drink.
What to do then? Give up completely? There are health benefits from drinking and two small glasses of red wine will have negligible affects to weight loss. When I was on the Slow Carb diet for 100 days, I would lose weight provided I kept my intake to lower than 250ml of red wine a day. The diet’s creator, Tim Ferriss, did various tests and found that 250ml was optimal. It should be drunk as two 125ml glasses so that it is not quaffed too quickly.
But the best thing to do in my opinion, is give yourself a break from alcohol for at least a month when you start a diet. Make sure you drink at least 2 litres of water a day and avoid sodas like the plague.