Alcohol and Calories

Hidden calories in alcohol

The term ‘beer belly’ can be a bit misleading when it comes to alcohol and weight gain. Pure alcohol is fattening whatever drink it’s in – so it’s no more fattening in beer than in wine for example.

With around seven calories per gram, alcohol contains almost the same calories as pure fat.

Different alcoholic drinks have different calorific content and it’s important that you understand what’s in your drink and how it can affect your weight. On top of this, many alcoholic drinks are also high in sugar meaning you could be consuming lots of empty calories, which could lead to weight gain, putting your long term health at risk.

How heavy nights out can contribute to a beer belly

Some pints of lager can contain 180 calories, the equivalent of a slice of pizza. Stouts and ales can be as calorific as a whole bagel (around 250 calories per pint!) and a pint of cider can contain as many calories as a sugared doughnut.

That means on a night out, you could be consuming almost your whole day’s healthy calorie intake (2,500 for men) just in alcohol.

Recommendations

Alcohol has no nutritional value and may actually make you feel more hungry instead of less.

Eating more food after drinking is one reason why drinking alcohol regularly can cause a beer belly — sometimes referred to as ‘central obesity’.

Men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 alcohol units a week. Regularly having three or four pints after work or sharing a bottle of wine over dinner is enough to make an impact on your waistline over time. Avoid the calories and reduce your belly fat by cutting down on alcohol at home as well as when out and about.

Alcohol and exercise

If you drink alcohol it can be harder to shift that stubborn ‘beer belly’ fat with exercise.

Drinking alcohol reduces the amount of fat your body burns for energy. Our bodies can’t store alcohol, so when you drink your body wants to get rid of it. All of your body’s other processes that should be taking place, like burning fat, are interrupted while it does that.

To burn off the 180 calories in a standard strength pint of lager (4% ABV) a typical man would have to spend: 13 minutes running on the treadmill or playing football; 15 minutes cycling or 20 minutes swimming or half an hour on the golf course.

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Athletic performance

So can you reap the benefits of the hard work you do in your exercise sessions and still have a drink after-work or at the weekend? The advice would be to stick to the low risk alcohol unit guidelines of not regularly drinking more than 14 units a week. 

If you feel like the balance between alcohol and exercise is veering too much towards the former, then it’s a good idea to consider cutting down on alcohol — you could start by swapping your regular pint for a lower alcohol or non-alcoholic beer, which tend to have fewer calories. 

Drinking even a little less each day through the week can have benefits for your health, helping you cut down on calories and contribute to weight loss.

Use the button below to visit the ‘Virtual Bar’ to work out how many calories you have during a night out!

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