Alcohol isn’t something that everyone feels compelled to consume. Personally, I don’t like alcohol. I don’t like the taste and I don’t like how it makes me feel, so I don’t drink alcohol almost ever. But I know many people who do enjoy it in moderation. You may drink because you like the taste or because it signals that you are “unwinding” from the stress of the day or because it seems expected in social situations (or because you aren’t comfortable in social situations and drinking alcohol makes you feel more relaxed and outgoing).
I think it is helpful to understand what your intentions are when it comes to eating and drinking so that you can consider your options for meeting your needs and create some alcohol-free options.
When it comes to alcohol, there are some choices that are healthier than others.
In today’s newsletter, let’s discover alcoholic beverages that are low in calories and carbohydrates. But first, let’s define calories and carbohydrates and the difference between the two.
Cals and Carbs
Calorie refers to the measurement of the amount of energy we get from the food and drinks we consume, as well as the energy we use/expend to maintain life and do physical activities. We get calories from three macronutrients namely, fats, proteins, and carbohydrates–which are the building blocks of a balanced diet.
There are 4 calories in every gram of carbohydrate, also 4 calories per gram of protein, and 9 calories per gram of fats. Alcohol is not an essential nutrient, however, it does have a lot of calories–7 calories per gram.Carbohydrates, or carbs, are a macronutrient that includes sugars, starches, and fiber. Arguably, fiber and starch serve a purpose in that they have benefits to our health, whereas sugar does not.
If you are looking to release weight, improve your blood sugar, sleep better, or balance your energy levels, alcohol can certainly get in the way. Here are some examples: Fat metabolism is greatly reduced–up to 73%!–after 2 alcoholic beverages; alcohol stimulates your appetite, increases your stress hormone cortisol, reduces testosterone levels, and increases estrogen by up to 300%! (say hello to belly fat) for up to 24 hrs after drinking. None of that is good!
Drinking alcohol certainly creates some obstacles to good health, especially when we drink often, in excess, and certain types of alcoholic beverages are worse than others. Let’s check out the carb and calorie content of different liquors.
Also known as hard alcohol, liquor, or distilled beverages, spirits are carb-free, but their calorie count depends on their alcohol content. Essentially, the more alcohol there is in the beverage, the more calories it contains. Examples of carb-free spirits are vodka, gin, tequila, whiskey, brandy, rum, and cognac.
Beer is not a good option if you are on a low-carb diet or are trying to manage diabetes because it has a greater calorie and carb content compared to non-flavored hard alcohol and wine. It’s just like drinking liquid bread! Speaking of which, if you have leaky gut, gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance, regular beer is definitely not a good option.
There is ultralight or low-carb beer (which contains only .5-3 grams of carbs per bottle or can) as well as gluten-free beer options (and some brands like Green’s Trailblazer are very low carb AND gluten-free). Here’s a list of some options.
The alcohol level of wine ranges between 5.5 to 14.5% with an 11.6% average alcohol by volume. In a 5-ounce serving of dry wine, there are about 3-6 grams of carbs and 110-130 calories.
If you prefer to drink wine, stick to red or white wines only as they have fewer than 5 grams of net carb per serving. Dessert wines or sweet wines are high in carbs and calories. Also, be cautious of labels. Some brands can play with their labels to give consumers the perception that the beverage has low carb content.
Dry-farm and organic wines tend to be the healthiest options.
Mixed drinks are flavored distilled drinks made from fruits, sugar, spices, or herbs. While their alcohol concentration is quite lower compared to that of unflavored liquor, they are loaded with carbohydrates and sugar!
You may want to create your own cocktails at home rather than buying pre-packaged mixers which are more likely to be high in sugar and calories. And instead of using high-calorie sweeteners or syrups to improve the taste of your drink, try using fresh herbs such as lavender, basil, mint, and rosemary. Add more ice, sparkling water, or seltzer (instead of soda or juice) to change the proportion of your beverage.
I hope that you found this newsletter helpful!
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Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!