BistroMD Health Library

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Health Tips

From tips on how to lose weight effectively to ways to combat boredom eating, this collection of informative articles covers a wide range of health topics that matter to real people, like you.

Effects of Alcohol on Your Health: What to Drink, Without Packing On Pounds

Effects of Alcohol on Your Health

The effects of alcohol on your health is the last thing on your mind when you’ve had a long day at the office, when your bills are piled sky high, or when your personal life is simply in the pits.

The effects of alcohol can also make it easy to pack on the pounds if you reach for a six-pack, or indulge in a bottle of wine as a preferred “stress-busting” method.

“A few drinks here and there are fine,” says Tessa Prior-Pullins, one of the lead dietitians for BistroMD. “When we develop a dependence, that’s when the effects of alcohol can take a toll on our bodies, and ruin our weight loss plans.”

To see how you can still indulge in a drink now and then, without worrying about the effects of alcohol on your health, our expert dietitian is giving you the “skinny” on the top 5 lowest calorie drinks you can have, that won’t cramp your healthy lifestyle.

5. Light Beer: The Best Choice for a Brew

One 12 ounce bottle:

Calories: 110
Carbs: 4.5 grams
Fat: 0 grams
Protein: 0 grams

With beer being over a $47 billion a year industry, it’s safe to say that some of us like to drown our sorrows, and celebrate our successes, by having a cold one now and then.

If you are a fan of beer, like millions of other people, it’s important that you monitor your calorie intake, while monitoring your alcohol level.

“Beer can be awful when it comes to weight loss just because of the calorie and carbohydrate content,” says Tessa. “If you prefer beer, it is best to go with a ‘light’ variety that ideally has as few calories as possible.”

Even though light beer has fewer calories, it’s best not to consume more than one per visit to your local bar.

“The problem with beer is that it can influence satiety, which is the natural reaction our bodies give us to let us know we are ‘full’” says Tessa. “Beer can inhibit our metabolism from burning excess stored fat, so it’s best not to drink more than one when out social drinking with friends.”

4. A Champagne Toast is Better than Most

A 4.2 ounce glass:

Calories: 95
Carbs: 4.5 grams
Fat: 0 grams
Protein: 0.3 grams

Most people drink champagne for special occasions, but in regards to your health, it’s actually better for you than most of the other alcoholic beverages out there.

What’s nice about champagne is that it contains fewer calories than most other alcoholic beverages, and most of the time, you don't have a desire to drink more than one glass.

“Most people don’t realize that champagne is actually a form of sparkling wine, and it has a lot of the same health benefits as regular wine, like decreasing your risk of a heart attack," says Tessa. "Other studies have shown that champagne can actually protect some of the neurological regions of your brain in the event of a sudden stroke.”

Who knew champagne had brain power?

3. Pass the Vino, Please! (Red or white wine)

A 4.2 ounce glass:

Calories: 80
Carbs: 1.5 grams
Fat: 0 grams
Protein: 0 grams

Instead of reaching for a cold brew, Tessa recommends reaching for a glass of red or white vino instead.

“Wine is a better option when it comes to drinking because it is lower in calories, and it isn’t loaded with carbohydrates, like beer,” says Tessa. “Wine has been proven in medical studies to lower an individual’s risk of cardiovascular disease, and has been shown to improve cholesterol levels.”

Other than promoting better heart health, wine has also been shown to promote longevity, with wine drinkers averaging a 34% less mortality rate than those who don’t drink wine.

It seems wine drinkers can be compared to the wine they drink: they seem to get better with age.

2. Jack Daniels in a Single Shot

One single shot:

Calories: 55
Carbs: 0 grams
Fat: 0 grams
Protein: 0 grams

Mr. Jack can be friendly, if you don’t take advantage of him too much.

With only 55 calories per single shot, Jack Daniels whiskey can be a low-calorie way for you to unwind after a long day at the office, without worrying about counting calories.

Even though it really won’t have a negative effect on your weight loss, whiskey still has a high alcohol content by volume, so you need to make sure you aren’t endangering yourself or others.

“If you are going to drink something as strong as whiskey, I recommend eating a well-balanced meal that is higher in protein,” says Tessa. “This will help you feel fuller longer, and your hunger will be satisfied, which will keep you from drinking too much.”

1. Choose Vodka When Choosing to Mix

One single shot:

Calories: 55
Carbs: 0 grams
Fat: 0 grams
Protein: 0 grams

Like whiskey, vodka is one of the better low-calorie options if you want to have a mixed drink or a cocktail.

There are many varieties of cocktails that can be made with vodka, but many bars make these cocktails using already pre-made mixes, which is something you need to be careful of if you are watching your weight.

Tessa recommends fresh fruit, over already pre-packaged mixes.

“Many mixed drinks and cocktails are made with pre-packaged mixes that are high in sugar and empty carbs. A healthy alternative would be to have your bartender create a mixed drink out of fresh fruit, if possible. It may cost you a little more, but you won’t have to feel guilty afterward,” says Tessa.

These solutions may be lower in calories, but it is always imperative that you drink responsibly. Even if you only have a few cocktails, always know your limit, and always be responsible.

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