A survey of the weight-conscious conducted for diet company Forza Supplements Oct. 24 found 81 percent admitting drinking ruined their plans to slim down. One fourth of the 1,000 surveyed reported consuming a quarter of their weekly calorie intake in alcohol alone.
More than a third of respondents consumed 1,000 calories in alcohol alone on a single night out with friends. The survey also found a third drank some alcohol at least three times a week, 25 percent said they drank excessively twice a week and 15 percent admitted to have a heavy night of alcohol three times per week.
A company representative presented four ways alcohol consumption sabotages plans to slim down. The first reason – well known to those with the disease of alcoholism – is that alcohol compromises inhibition and good judgment. “The reason that excess boozing is so damaging to diets is because it makes us deviate from our diet plans and consume more food than planned,” says Managing Director Lee Smith. The food is usually calorie-laden bar fare, typically a burger (490 calories), pizza (675), two pieces of fried chicken (400) or a bag of chips (312).
Smith said the second reason is biochemical. Alcohol suppresses leptin, a hormone. “Leptin tells the body to stop eating and negatively affects many other brain chemicals that are involved in appetite suppression.”
The third reason is that the body recognizes alcohol as a toxin. "Your body stops processing nutrients from the food you’ve eaten while it takes care of the ‘bad guys’ first. As a result, your body burns empty alcohol calories (those low in nutrients) for energy while the digestion of nutrient-rich food is put on the back burner.” The result is a 73 percent reduction in fat burning. “By the time your body gets to burning food calories, it might not need the energy and ends up storing the extra calories you’ve eaten as fat cells.”
Another reason for the lack of weight loss is that alcohol itself has calories. Plenty of them. (See “Alcohol plugs100 calories per day into diets of U.S. adults.”) Pilsener or lager beer usually comes in at around 148 calories in 12 ounces. Drinking light beer, offers about a third fewer, at around 99 calories per 12 ounces. Dry wine contains fewer calories than sweet: 106 calories for five ounces of dry wine and champagnes… double it for five ounces of sweeter wines. If you drink a glass of wine before dinner, another glass with dinner and a sweet wine for dessert, that’s more than 400 calories in addition to the meal.
Liquor calories depend on the proof for whiskey, tequila, gin, rum and vodka. Eighty proof contains 97 calories per shot (1.5 ounces). One hundred proof has 124 calories. How you mix the hard liquors will add calories faster. A whiskey sour will have 122 calories and a gin and tonic has 171 calories, a pina colada, 262 calories, and a large margarita can have as many as 400 calories.
“Women on a boozy night out typically drink three glasses of wine, plus a cocktail (such as a margarita) and a shot of spirits and mixer, all adding up to just less than half their daily calorie intake of 2,000 calories,” says Smith.
One other, more obvious thing about the weight-loss difficulty is what alcohol does to motivation: Who feels like exercise when hungover?