How to Choose Your Booze

First of all, don’t worry – the beer below is not really *my* beer, I’m just posing next to it for scale.  🙂  I hope that through this blog entry some of you can learn to implement healthier drinking habits into your weekly routine.  For those of you who don’t drink…skip to “The Truth About Carbohydrates” or another entry that’s more applicable!
It starts with the nice weather and a glass of wine on your back porch.  Before you know it football season is here and you’re drinking beer all day long.  Then come the holidays, which just wouldn’t be the same (or in some cases tolerable) without a fully stocked liquor cabinet.  The bottom line is that there is always a reason to drink!  Since all of this talk about fitness and new year’s resolutions is probably driving you to drink right now I figure it’s the right time to examine different types of alcohol and how they can effect your diet.  Realistically, there are a lot of us who aren’t willing to cut these drinks out of our diet completely.  However, there are ways to make smarter decisions when we’re picking our poison.
Alcohol, when consumed in any form, will be processed by your body before fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.  This means that drinking any kind of alcohol will slow down our fat burning process and thus our ability to lose weight.  While cutting cocktails completely out of your diet would be ideal, I am a strong believer in the power of moderation if and when you do choose to drink. 
Let’s take a look at calorie comparison first.  Below is a list of different kinds of alcohol and where they stand in comparison to one another when contemplating calories.
  • Regular Beer (one can)  ~  150 Calories
  • Light Beer (one can)  ~  100 Calories
  • Most Liquor (one shot/no mixer)  ~  95 Calories
  • Dinner Liqueurs (one ounce)  ~  190 Calories
  • Red Wine (one glass/half cup)  ~  80 Calories
  • Dry White Wine (one glass/half cup)  ~  75 Calories
  • Sweet White Wine (one glass/half cup)  ~  90 Calories
  • Wine Cooler (one bottle)  ~  150 Calories
  • Hard Cider (one bottle)  ~  200 Calories
Unfortunately, calories are not the only thing we have to consider when choosing a beverage.  If you were at all relieved to be on the low end of the calorie spectrum with your drink of choice you may be unpleasantly surprised at how many carbs you’re taking in.
  • Beer may be fat free but it can have anywhere from 2 to 20g of carbohydrates in a single can.  Light beers are usually lower in carbs, but that’s not always the case so be sure to check out the nutrition facts.
  • Most wines range from 0.5 to 8g of carbs.  Sweet wines tend to have a higher carb content than dry wines.  You can definitely get away with having a glass of wine for under 3g of carbs if you stay away from the sweet stuff.
  • Many liquors do not have carbs due to the distillation process.  However, some liquor such as tequilla and rum can have up to 5g of carbs per ounce.  The real concern with hard liquor is the nutrition facts of the mixers you may use to sweeten things up.
  • Dinner Liqueurs are usually higher in carbs and average around 17g per 1.5oz.
  • Hard ciders contain around 20g of carbs per bottle and wine coolers sit right around 30g of carbs a piece!
In conclusion, drinking in moderation is your best bet if you’re going to drink.  Every calorie you drink is a calorie you’re taking away from breakfast, lunch, or dinner, so don’t overdo it!  Not to mention, drinking daily will slow down your metabolizing process and make it tougher to lose weight.  This year try to cut your drinking back a bit by lowering the frequency of which you drink or lowering the amount of which you consume.  Wine, light beer, or hard liquor without a sugary or high calorie mixer are far better choices than sweet ciders, wine coolers, and dinner liqueurs.  It’s time to start living by the toasts we propose.  Make a change and stay committed.  Salud!