Alcohol: The Silent Assassin: Is Alcohol Making You Fat?
McDonalds thick-shakes, chocolate mud cake, greasy fried chicken, cream-filled éclairs and crispy French fries. Loved, loathed and lusted after by men and women worldwide, these are the traditional demons of the diet realm.
But are these temptations really to blame for those extra five kilos that magically appear on your hips during the holiday season? Or could there be a more sinister cellulite-producing enemy lurking on the buffet table?
A Frightening Fact
It’s a fact that we’re all mildly aware of but we are more than happy to ignore – alcohol makes you fat.
Whilst a celebratory champagne is not likely to expand your waistline, and a glass of red wine may be good for your health, binging on beer and slurping down creamy cocktails throughout the silly season is by no means “heart-healthy”. What’s more, despite the grueling fitness regimes and strictly limited diets that are a star feature on New Years Resolution lists worldwide, alcohol remains a general exception to the “healthy” rule.
So what sort of impact does this social lubricant really have on the size of your waistline? And how can you avoid being a victim of its vice-like grip during the party season?
Is Alcohol fattening?
Alcohol is a silent assassin. Unlike your traditional creamy chocolate-laden diet foe, it is a substance that is surprisingly lacking in fat content – a pure liquid that seems to disappear far too quickly to have any lasting impact on your dress size.
Think this sounds like a dream come true? Think again.
With a whopping seven calories per gram, alcohol is far more hazardous to your hips than bread, rice, pasta or any other of Atkins’ feared carbohydrates. And these are not calories that can be simply burnt off by around on the dance floor. It is very well known fact that alcohol cannot be used directly by the muscles, it instead travels into the bloodstream, where it must be metabolized before the body can start to use up the fat and carbohydrate calories in those accompanying bar nuts. Thus the infamous beer belly.
What’s more, alcohol does not lend itself easily to moderation. After a few glasses of champagne, that age-old diet plan will no doubt begin to be questioned. Knock back a couple more cocktails, and thoughts of weight-gain will surely have been relegated to the deep abyss of a distant memory, having been replaced by an intense craving for a McDonald’s hamburger.
Ever heard of the term “aperitif”? It is an alcoholic drink enjoyed before a large meal to whet the appetite (i.e. a method used by restaurants to encourage patrons to order and consume larger quantities of food). The concept behind this is simple – alcohol is a potent appetizer. This little fact, combined with the lack of anxiety that accompanies intoxication, can result in a wine-and-cheese night turning into a fast-food binge.
Keeping off the Pounds. If the lure of alcohol really is too much for you to handle (and, yes, we all know New Years without champagne wouldn’t be quite the same), here are some practical tips to stop you from packing on the pounds this season:
– Avoid creamy cocktails and liqueurs like Baileys and Kahlua
– Dilute alcohol with diet soft drinks to cut down on the calories
– Steer clear of sugar-sweet mixer drinks like Bacardi Breezers
– Pile up the ice – it makes your drink seem bigger without adding actual calories
– Avoid salty bar snacks – they will only make you want to eat and drink more
– Most importantly, try to stick with lower-calorie alcohol drinks. Here are a few of your options:
- Beer (stubby/can – 375mL) = 135 calories
- Light beer (stubby/can – 375mL) = 105 calories
- Champagne (glass – 140mL) = 100 calories
- White Wine (glass – 140mL) = 95 calories
- Red Wine (glass – 140mL) = 119 calories
- Vodka shot (30mL) = 60 calories
- Baileys Irish Cream shot (37 mL) = 129 calories
- Gin and tonic = 110 calories
- Rum and Diet Coke = 70 calories
- Archers Schnapps (275mL bottle) = 200 calories
- Lemon Ruski (300mL bottle) = 220 calories
- UDL Can (Vodka Raspberry – 375 mL) = 255 calories
- Smirnoff Black = 230 calories
- Cosmopolitan = 150 calories
- Piña Colada = 290 calories
- Vodka Mudshake (270mL bottle) = 285 calories