With the British Summer threatening to give us all a few rays, us Brits never need much of an excuse to get the barbecue out, cook up a feast and ensure there’s a cool beer or a large glass of wine in hand. And for those who are calorie conscious, it can be tolerable to eat the burger without the bun or refuse the third sausage. However, most of our good intentions are wiped out by several glasses of Pimms, ales, ciders, wines, lagers and spirits.
Many of us are completely unaware of the calorie content of alcoholic drinks. Firstly, you should know that alcoholic drinks are made by fermenting and distilling natural starch and sugar. Being high in sugar means alcohol contains lots of calories – seven calories a gram in fact, almost as many as pure fat!
Calories from alcohol are ’empty calories’ … they have zero nutritional value. Most alcoholic drinks contain traces of vitamins and minerals, but not usually in amounts that make any significant contribution to our diet. Drinking alcohol also reduces the amount of fat your body burns for energy.
While we can store nutrients, protein, carbohydrates, and fat in our bodies, we can’t store alcohol. So our systems want to get rid of it, and doing so takes priority. All of the other processes that should be taking place (including absorbing nutrients and burning fat) are interrupted.
Did you know?
Drinking three 4.5 per cent ciders while enjoying the sunshine
– equals an overall calorie intake of 648 – that’s 25 per cent of a man’s daily allowance, and 32 per cent of a woman’s
– is the equivalent of eating two whole burgers
– will involve a 65-minute run to burn off the calories
Two medium (175ml) glasses of 13.5 per cent Rose wine
– is 4.8 units – exceeding the recommended two to three units a day for women, and three to four daily units for a man
– is the equivalent of eating one whole burger
– combined with the burger you’re likely to enjoy at a barbecue, it takes your calories intake to 760 – that’s 38 per cent of a woman’s daily allowance, and 30 per cent of a man’s
Two pints of 4.0 per cent beer
– is the equivalent of eating one whole burger at a barbecue
– it would take you 36 minutes to burn off in the gym
– combined with your favourite barbecued food, it takes your total calorie intake to 770 (and that’s a plain burger, no cheese topping)
On average, alcohol makes up 10% of the calorie intake among adults who drink. If you regularly drink alcohol it can form a significant part of your daily calorie consumption. However, it’s not necessary to give up alcohol completely if you’re trying to be healthier. To reduce your calorific intake through alcohol, try the following:
– Stick to your daily recommended units
– Choose smaller measures, or choose a bottled beer instead of a can
– Dilute alcohol with water or a low-calorie soft drink
– Alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
– Keep a few nights each week alcohol free.
– Eat a healthier dinner before you start drinking. Order or cook before you start drinking so you’re not tempted to go for the less healthy options.
– Try cutting down with a friend, as you’ll be more likely to stick to it with moral support.
– If you drink wine, choose dry wine which may contain fewer calories because of its reduced sugar content.