By Staff Sgt. Patrice Clarke
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
April is Alcohol Awareness Month. The Air Force stresses, if military members consume alcohol they should have a plan. Moderation is key. The Mayo Clinic found that some alcohol consumption may provide some health benefits to include reducing the risk of some heart disease, heart attacks, stroke and diabetes.
Moderation is also key when it comes to weight loss.
Drinking the occasional beer or the once-a-night glass of red wine won’t have a person falling off their weight-loss wagon. However, even occasional drinkers should be aware that the amount and type of drink taken can have an adverse affect on their weight loss goals.
The 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that moderate alcohol consumption is defined as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. The guide also defines one drink as 12 fluid ounces of regular beer (5 percent alcohol), 5 fluid ounces of wine (12 percent alcohol), or 1.5 fluid ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (40 percent alcohol).
When it comes to weight loss the calorie is king. Staff Sgt. Vanessa Arthur, Schriever Health and Wellness Center diet therapist, explains that extra calories add up, especially with alcoholic beverages.
“People are usually quite surprised when they find out how many calories are in their favorite drink, especially mixed drinks,” she said.
A light beer contains about 95 calories, a regular beer about 150 calories, distilled spirits about 100 calories, a serving of wine about 110 calories and a wine cooler has about 150 calories.
The calories start piling up when it comes to mixed drinks. Depending on the type of mix used some can pack a whopping 700 calories. A 12-ounce margarita comes close with about 500 calories but the real heavy weight is the Long Island Iced Tea packing 780 calories for 8 ounces.
Those calories are typically compounded.
“Many people will snack on bar food while drinking,” said Arthur. “This can really be detrimental to the waistline because of the way alcohol is processed.”
Alcohol is processed differently than carbohydrates, proteins and fats, explained Arthur. Calories consumed from alcohol cannot be stored and used later. It must be processed immediately. All other calories consumed during the time alcohol is being processed is stored as fat to be processed later.
“Those hot wings you are eating while drinking that beer might taste good, but those calories are being stored rather than being converted to energy,” said Arthur.
Often times drinks are not included in overall weight management efforts.
“I suggest people make a food diary that has everything they eat and drink added to it,” said Arthur. “That will show a person where their calorie pitfalls might be. More times than not, people are quite amazed how their drinks add to their calorie count.”
For the moderate drinker, there are low-calorie alternatives. The Livestrong website suggests the key to reducing the caloric content of mixed drinks is to simplify. Drink liquor on the rocks, with diet or club soda. Also, instead of ordering the 16 ounce, opt for a smaller serving size to cut more calories.
Responsible drinkers don’t have give up their occasional cocktail to stay fit. Better drink choices can curtail unnecessary drink calories.
For more information concerning alcohol and its effects on weight loss contact the Schriever HAWC at 567-4292.