Alcohol and weight-loss? Yes, please!

Published Tue, Mar 06, 2012 10:35 AM
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Carrie says avoid drinks like the famous Cosmopolitan because they are loaded with sugar. File photo

Submitted by Carrie Riggin — Correspondent

It’s March, and the countdown to St. Patrick’s Day is on! March 17 signifies one of the most fun holidays of the year, but it also can be a dieter’s worst nightmare. Usually celebrated by heavy drinking — typically the Irish favorite Guinness — this holiday is not known to help trim your waist. Or so you thought…

To all you martini loving, beer drinking, shot taking folks, I have good news: you don’t have to throw your weight-loss efforts completely off track to celebrate. Here are some tricks that will help you lose weight while not giving up your guilty pleasure. But remember, regular exercise is a MUST if you are consuming extra calories from alcohol.

1. Think about calories and alcohol content

Calories: For most people, the calories in the mixers of their favorite cocktails pose a far greater barrier to weight loss than the alcohol. Just four ounces of a daiquiri or margarita mix can contain upwards of 35 grams of sugar (that’s seven teaspoons of sugar - gross)! Plus, they are more than double the amount of calories in the shot of rum or tequila included in the drink (there are 65 calories in a typical 1.5 oz. shot). The worst part? The calories from mixers are made up of the worst kind of calories: simple and refined sugars. When they’re combined with the metabolic effects of alcohol, it’s not a good outcome. (Source: FitSugar)

Alcohol content: One myth about alcohol: it will make you fat. But the truth is, it’s the combination of alcohol and sugars found in mixers (and the midnight munchies after!) that packs on the pounds. Alcohol does contain calories, but it’s safe to assume that the number on the scale does not shoot upwards by throwing back shots of straight vodka one night. Instead, it’s the metabolic priority that your body places on alcohol (over carbohydrates and fats) that causes big problems. Your body wants to process alcohol before anything else, which has been shown to create a metabolic environment that is almost the opposite of the environment your body creates following exercise — one of high circulating levels of fat and inhibited fat burning. (Source: FitSugar)

2. Be healthy about it

Drink clear liquor: Vodka and gin. Darker liquors, like rum, have more calories.

Use diet mixers: My "skinny" drink is a vodka/diet coke. Yes, the bartenders make fun of me but it keeps me looking good!

Avoid high-sugar cocktails: This means martinis, daiquiris and margaritas at all costs. The sugar from these drinks is not only highly caloric; it turns straight to fat and goes directly to your thighs.

Choose light beer: A typical light beer has 96 calories and three carbs. Unless you are drinking a full keg, light beer will not give you the beer belly look.

It’s OK to let loose a little on St. Patty’s Day. Studies have shown that moderate alcohol consumption (think one to two drinks per day) increases your HDL, or "good" cholesterol. There is also proof that red wine is good for the heart (health benefits of red wine diminish after two drinks) and people who have a couple drinks each week live longer (I like this data!).

Keep these tips in the back of your mind when hitting the bar for St. Patty’s Day and you’ll definitely make smart(er) alcohol choices! Yes, there is such a thing. You can thank me later.

XoXo, Carrie

About Carrie Riggin
Carrie is the Triangle's go-to health and nutrition guru, sharing the latest trends to help you get in shape. She is a certified group fitness instructor and writes a blog, TheSkinnBuzz.

Twitter: @CarrieRigginFIT and @TheSkinnyBuzz

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