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Strong Kitchen

Is Alcohol Hurting Your Fat Loss?


Macronutrients like carbohydrates, proteins and fats provide us with nutritional calories that we need for energy. Alcohol, however, only supplies us with what nutritionists refer to as “empty calories”, meaning they have no nutritional value. And not only does alcohol provide no nutritional value but it also hinders our ability to lose fat.


Whenever the body consumes alcohol, alcohol becomes the first fuel to burn. This means your body will work to burn the alcohol before it is able to burn fat. So while consuming alcohol doesn’t completely stop weight loss altogether, it most certainly postpones it.


Alcohol contains seven calories per gram, almost twice as many as protein or carbohydrates. In fact, alcohol has only two fewer calories than fat, which has nine per gram.


Not to mention, when you’re consuming an alcoholic beverage, you are most likely taking in calories from other sources as well, which adds to overall caloric intake. If you’re drinking a rum and coke, for example, you have to factor in the nutritional content of the coke as well.  


In addition, certain cocktails contain high amounts of fats, while wine and beer both have high carbohydrate content. Carbohydrates release insulin that can accelerate fat storage and fats themselves will be stored directly in the fat cells, so these factors can result in added body fat as well.


Nutritional Facts broken down by Type

Total caloric content of various alcoholic drinks varies.


Beer generally has the highest number of calories, considering the smaller amount of alcohol it contains in comparison to its alternatives. Some other alcoholic beverages have more calories, no doubt, but they also have a higher alcohol content, making them a better choice calorie-wise since you would presumably be consuming less in one sitting. See the typical alcohol content of some popular adult beverages below.


  • Beer: 5% alcohol
  • Wine: 12% alcohol
  • 100 proof liquor: 50% alcohol
  • 80 proof liquor: 40% alcohol


Various liquors/spirits generally contain around 64 calories per nip, but these add up depending on the strength of the drink (for example, a double will contain two nips, or 128 calories).


Once you factor in the calories found in one glass of coke (around 180 calories), you’ll find that a typical bourbon and coke could supply 308 calories—double the number found in the average can of beer.


Liqueurs, such as Baileys Irish Crème, usually contain around 100 calories per nip. However, much like liquors or spirits, they are often consumed with other, often-higher calorie mixers such as coke or milk to make cocktails, bumping the calorie content way up.


Wine generally contains around 100 to 125 calories per medium sized glass.


See the charts below for nutritional info on many popular alcoholic beverages.


Beer and Wine



Sodium

Carbohydrates

Proteins

Calcium

Potassium

Total Calories

One can of Regular 4-5% Alcohol Beer

14mg (1%)

12.6g (4%)

1.6g

14.2mg

96.1g

153 (97 from alcohol)

One can of Lite Beer

14mg

5.9g

0.98g

14.4mg

75.6mg

105 (78 from alcohol)

One glass of Dessert Wine

9mg

14.1g


0.1mg

0.9mg

165 (110 from alcohol)

One glass of reduced alcohol (6%) wine

10mg

1.7g


13.3mg

130.2mg

74 (66 from alcohol)

One glass of Table Wine

7mg

4g

0.1g

11.8mg

146.5mg

124 (108 from alcohol)



Liquors (40% Alcohol)



Potassium

Total Calories

One ounce of Gin

0.6mg

64 from alcohol content

One ounce of Rum

0.6mg

64 from alcohol content

One ounce of Vodka

0.6mg

64 from alcohol content

One ounce of Whiskey

0.6mg

64 from alcohol content


Liqueurs



Carbohydrate

Total Calories

One nip of Ouzo (40% alcohol)

11g

103 (70 from alcohol)

One nip of Schnapps (40% alcohol)

7g

100 (70 from alcohol)

One nip of Curacao (35% alcohol)

6g

95 (56 from alcohol)

One nip of Amaretto (38% alcohol)

17g

110 (42 from alcohol)


What are the best and worst alcoholic choices?

The worst alcohol choices include any cream based drinks such as eggnog (340 calories without the alcohol) or an Amaretto Sour (includes tequila and orange juice and contains 421 calories).


The highest calorie cocktail of all would be the Vodka Mudslide, which contains coffee liqueur, Irish cream and vanilla ice cream and supplies 820 calories.


In terms of the healthiest alcoholic beverage it’s hard to point to just one, since there is so much variance, even between drinks with the same type of alcohol. However, as a general rule it’s better to drink a smaller quantity of liqueur with a healthier, lower calorie base such as trim milk or tomato juice.

Sources:


“5 Reasons Why Alcohol May Be Sabotaging Your Fat Loss.” Lean Machine Nutrition, 17 Aug. 2016, www.leanmachinenutrition.com/blog/2016/8/17/5-reasons-why-alcohol-may-be-sabotaging-your-fat-loss.


Robson, David. “5 Ways Alcohol Hinders Fat Loss!” Bodybuilding.com, 21 Aug. 2017, www.bodybuilding.com/content/5-ways-alcohol-hinders-fat-loss.html.