While there are several studies that indicate an occasional drink or two may enhance some aspects of overall health, improper alcohol use during a diet significantly contributes to dieting failure. Unfortunately, these studies did not also specifically address alcohol’s adverse effects on dieting success or alcohol’s role in weight gain.
It is no secret that alcohol and dieting do not mix well, witness the numerous so-called “beer bellies” walking around the beach on any given weekend. However, new research is issuing a warning that using artificial sweeteners in mixed drinks may or may not help with dieting, but it probably will make a person feel drunk a lot quicker.
For the person who is going to mix alcohol and dieting, the calories in the beverage should be included in their daily caloric intake, as part of their diet plan. By keeping the calorie count down to the level indicated by their diet, moderately consuming alcohol should not disrupt the diet plans. However, excess alcohol can lead to excess calories which not replace food as the primary source.
Based on studies, the stomach contents of drinks mixed with artificial sweeteners were emptied in about 15 minutes. Those mixed with sugar took just over 21 minutes and showed the blood-alcohol concentration was higher in persons drinking drinks made with artificial sweeteners than those whose drinks were mixed with sugar. While studies of alcohol and dieting are relatively new, the inclusion of calories in alcohol is well documented.
One of the more popular light beers, for example has 109 calories per 12-ounce serving while the calories in a regular beer averages about 145. When considering alcohol and dieting, a four ounce glass of wine will average about 100 calories and an ounce of hard liquor will harbor over 100 calories. Some additives to mixed drinks add significantly to the calories count such as Tequila Sunrise, which will have 200 calories in five ounces where a jigger of tequila will have 115 and a four ounce whiskey sour will have 170, compared to a jigger of 100 proof whiskey at 125 calories.
In theory, with the caloric content known for alcoholic products, alcohol and dieting are not consistent with weight loss. While there is no real harm in limited alcohol intake while dieting, and it has been known to affect a person’s motivation to lose weight, or to increase their acceptance of their current weight, moderation is alcohol intake is strongly recommended.
Mixing alcohol with diet drinks may be lower in calories, and with the increase in time in which it enters the blood stream, it may reduce the number of drinks being consumed. This mixture of alcohol and dieting may keep a person from overindulging, helping to reduce the number of calories taken in through the alcohol.
Choosing to eliminate or reduce alcohol intake (at least during the initial phase of your diet) may be one of the single greatest contributors to your diet’s success. As an example - an average woman not currently dieting consuming two drinks a day and having a total daily caloric intake of about 2,500 calories, would lose ½ to 2/3 of a pound per week by eliminating alcohol without changing anything else. That averages approximately 26-36 pounds per year. Reducing alcohol intake to one drink per day and quitting would result in about a 1/3 of a pound loss per week or 18 pounds per year.