How many calories does your martini have?

Every day, I talk to several people who think alcohol contains few or no calories or who think that alcohol is a healthy option if it’s mixed with fruit juice. I am providing you with this information so that you will know and understand the facts about how alcohol affects your diet.

Martini

Image by ginsnob via Flickr

Are there calories in your alcoholic drink?

Yes, alcohol contains calories. Make that LOTS of calories. This is why not being able to resist a drink at a social do is a weight-watcher’s nightmare come true.

Another misconception is that alcohol is a carbohydrate.

Alcohol is most definitely not a carbohydrate and not a source of energy. What alcohol molecules do is affect the brain to make one feel euphoric – and this is often mistaken for energy.

Now, let’s discuss the actual calorie content — alcohol has about seven calories per gram.

This makes it nearly twice as fattening as carbohydrates or protein (both contain about four calories per gram) and just under the caloric value for fat (which has nine calories per gram).

The calories derived from alcohol are called ’empty’ calories because they contain no beneficial nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.

Facts

~ One bottle of beer contains about 150 calories.

~ Beer, wine and liquor (an alcoholic beverage made by distillation rather than fermentation) all contain different quantities of alcohol; 15 mugs (250 ml per mug) of beer, 6 glasses (200 ml per glass) of wine and 10 shots of liquor (like tequila, whisky, rum) have about the same amount of alcohol.

~ Beer has between three to eight percent alcohol. ‘Light’ or low-cal beers contain around three percent alcohol.

~ Liqueurs (sweetened spirits with various flavors, oils and extracts) such as sherry and dessert liqueurs contain 40 to 50 percent alcohol and tend to have more calories.

~ White wines average 12 percent, while red wines have around 14 percent alcohol.

Note: The number of calories also depends on the size of the drink: the larger the drink, the higher the calorie count.

Adding any carbonated beverage or fruit juice increases the calorie content of the drink as juices and beverages also contain calories.

Calorie count for popular cocktails

Serving size is one glass (6 oz)

Calories Serving size is one glass (6 oz) Calories
Margarita 453 Martini 413
Mint Julep 143 Old Fashioned 206
Pina Colada 297 Screwdriver 200
Singapore Sling 230 Sloe Gin Fizz 120
Tequila Sunrise 253 Tom Collins 120
Black Russian 291 Whisky Sour 166
Blue Lagoon 179 White Russian 360

Food versus drink

Here are the calorie equivalents of some of your favorite cocktails as compared with food.

Drink Food
1 mug of beer (8 oz) (150 calories) One whole meal flour bread (150 calories)
1 glass of white wine (6 oz) (120 calories) 4 cups light microwave popcorn (120 calories)
1 glass rum and diet Coke (133 calories)
1 glass of rum and Coke (182 calories)
1 cup vegetarian Chinese chili dish (135 calories)

1 medium flatbread with soya beans (180 calories)

1 tequila shot (100 calories) 2 slices of bread (102 calories)
1 glass of gin and tonic (178 calories) 1 medium fried dough (177 calories)
1 glasss of Cosmopolitan (151 calories) 1 soy vegetarian burger (140 calories)
1 glass of Zima (rum cocktail) (185 calories) 1 medium flatbread with lentil soup (183 calories)

The downside of ‘Cheers!’

Alcohol increases craving for more alcohol and other food items that are high in calories (salted peanuts, potato chips, etc…).

One beer every night adds up to 1,036 additional calories per week, or fourteen to sixteen pounds to your stomach per year! No wonder they call it a beer belly.
Does this mean that consuming alcohol will cause you to get fat?

There is no simple answer to this question as there are so many variables involved. The level of activity performed on a daily basis (calorie burning), the amount and ratio of other nutritional components (protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins and minerals) consumed on a daily basis all have a role to play.

What we do know is that the body processes alcohol before fat, protein or carbohydrates. Thus drinking alcohol, independent of the other variables involved, slows down the burning of fat.

This means that if you love your drink AND want to lose weight, you have a major uphill task on your hands.

Therefore, I would suggest you consume alcohol in moderation. If you are serious about losing weight, avoid drinking alcohol on a regular basis. Remember that the calories from alcohol add up quickly, and they go straight to your abdomen and add to its size.
Tips for party drinking

~ Dilute your drink with soda.

~ Add ice cubes to keep it chilly and light.

~ If you are preparing an alcohol punch, use a non-carbonated base like fruit juice. It should preferably be fresh.

~ Eat plenty of food before you start drinking. Eating high protein foods like cheese, low-fat paneer, soya-based snacks, chicken and fish will slow down the absorption rate so that the alcohol will not hit your system at once.

~ Avoid too many salty snacks, which end-up making you thirsty as a result of which you drink more.

~ Sip your drink slowly instead of guzzling it down. Munch on a snack while downing it. Make sure the snack is roasted or baked, not deep-fried.

The next time you are at a social gathering and have the urge to guzzle down another drink, envision that big wobbly belly that could put a beanbag to shame… and head for the water cooler instead.

For more information about weight loss go to www.newsmyrnaspine.com

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