Battle of the Beer Belly

April 29, 2009 at 4:06 pm Leave a comment

As pool season approaches, many booze aficionados are looking for ways to still enjoy their favorite beverage while leaning up.  We have all seen it before…the infamous “beer belly” attached to the front of our once thin and athletic friend.  Often misattributed to excess alcohol calories being stored as fat, the “beer belly” is actually a result of alcohol’s more complex effects on the body. 

Basically, alcohol reduces the amount of fat the body burns for energy.  Coupled with the high caloric value of alcohol, the resul is that body is forced to store an excessive amount of unburned fat calroies, often in the form of a “beer belly.”

A commonly held misconception is that light beer is like diet coke-calorie and fat free.  Although light beer does have fewer calories than the regular variety, the average light beer still contains upward of 100 calories per 12 oz can.  Regular beer ranges from approximately 140 – 200 calories per 12 oz can.

Despite the small quantity of liquid, a single shot of liquor(1.5 oz) can contain anywhere from 115 – 200 calories.  In comparison, a 4 oz glass of wine contains anywhere from 62 – 160 calories.  Mixed drinks are where the calories really add up, ranging from approximately 280 calories for a gin and tonic to over 800 calories for some of the frozen, creamy drinks (ie pina colada).

Alcopops or flavored malt beverages mark an alcoholic form of the traditional soft drink.  Alcopops come pre-mixed in 12 oz glass bottles, and, unless an artificial sweetner is used, average slight over 200 calories per 12 oz bottle.

So, the question remains, how do I enjoy my favorite beverages and maintain my waistline?  The University of Rochester offers the following tips:

  • Try alternating alcoholic drinks with low calorie non-alcoholic drinks or water.
  • Ask for low calorie/diet mixers where possible.
  • Make your wine into a spritzer (a longer drink), or your lager into a shandy – both have fewer calories.
  • Substitute your “alcopop” for a shot of spirit and a low calorie mixer – about a quarter of the calories!
  • Integrate alcohol into your daily calorie quota so you can enjoy a glass or two.  If you know you will be drinking during the weekend, try to save some calories each day in advance, so you can eat normally before you go out.
  • Don’t be tempted to skip meals to allow for drinks, as alcohol won’t satify your hunger.  In fact, alcohol lowers blood sugar levels, sending signals to your brain that you are hungry.  With alcohol in your system, willpower can go out of the window and the snack attack kicks in.  Eating a proper meal before you go out will line your stomach and slow the rate at which alcohol absorbs into your bloodstream, keeping you in control of how much you eat and drink.

Entry filed under: Nutrition. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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