Can alcoholic drinks hurt my diet?

September 26th, 2012

Alcohol, like most things, is good in moderation.  In many cultures around the world, it is used in celebrations and religious ceremonies.  However, for someone who is trying to lose weight it can be a source of excess calories.  The drink itself can contribute as many or more calories as most soft drinks.  Unfortunately, there are no laws stating that calories must be posted on wine, beer, or liquor labels.  For those who are trying to keep track of their caloric intake, this can be quite problematic.  I recommend referring to internet websites such as CalorieKing as they have many brand name beers and types of wine.  You would be surprised to find that different types of beer can vary from 55 to over 300 calories per 12 fluid ounces.  If you do choose to drink, picking one with few calories can make a big difference over time. Mixed cocktails are almost always going to be diet-killers as they often contain sugary syrups, juices, and liquors that are high in calories in larger glasses.

The other problem with alcohol is that it lowers our inhibitions.  Imagine you are getting coffee in the middle of the afternoon, a piece of chocolate cake on the counter looks tempting, but your conscience kicks in and you are able to resist the temptation (maybe just barely) enough to walk away. Now think about sitting down at dinner with friends after a few glasses of wine and the waiter brings the dessert cart over to your table.  I can tell you from experience, it’s definitely not that easy to say “no” to a delicious tiramisu! Hence, alcohol can make you gain weight.

For people with high blood pressure, alcohol can worsen blood pressure by causing fluid retention.  In addition, many people crave salty foods while they are drinking, which can increase their sodium intake. Ever notice why bars always have salty pretzels or nuts on the counter?

According to the leading experts on high blood pressure, men with high blood pressure should consume no more than 2 alcoholic drinks per day, and women should consume no more than one glass per day.  Certain medications, such as cholesterol medications and antibiotics can cause serious reactions if mixed with alcohol. Be sure to check with your physician if you are able to drink alcohol with any new medication.