Have you ever wondered why your bottle of beer doesn’t have a nutrition facts label?
In fact, the vast majority of alcoholic drinks do not list the nutritional information on the bottle. Unfortunately the lack of labeling does not mean that your beer is calorie-free…
Unlike other beverages, alcoholic drinks are regulated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, instead of the Food Drug Administration (FDA), so they are not required to list the nutrition facts. Does this mean we should all just adopt the attitude that “ignorance is bliss”?RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
While ignorance may be bliss for beer companies, as they profit off of Lime-a-ritas (with an astounding 340 calories per 12ounce can), the same is not true for the consumer. Particularly, the consumer who is struggling to lose weight.
Although, you may be eating your fruits and vegetables and counting your calories, but over-indulging in those libations could be sabotaging your weight loss plan!
To put it in perspective
Carbohydrates and protein contain 4 calories per gram, and fat contains 9 calories per gram – alcohol contains 7 calories per gram. The standard alcoholic drink has about 14 grams of alcohol. Take those 14 grams and multiply by 7; and you have about 100 calories in your standard drink. Well 100 calories isn’t so bad, right?
Unless you are taking shots of plain, unflavored, vodka, 100 calories is just your base number. Tonic water, mixers, simple syrup, the barley used in beer-making, and the grapes used in wine-making all add to the calorie count, mostly in the form of carbohydrates. Just a single drink could be contributing a significant amount of calories to your diet.
The concern is not so much the number of calories, but rather the quality. Whether it’s a 100 calorie light beer, or a 340 calorie Lime-a-rita, these calories are empty-liquid calories. These calories will not fill you up, and they add virtually no nutritional benefit (unless you want to argue for the 1 gram of protein in a standard beer).
It is easy to see where alcohol may hinder one’s quest to lose weight. The good news is that, like many other indulgences, alcohol can be enjoyed in moderation.
Here are a few tips and tricks to lose the beer belly and keep the beer:
1. Do your research.
Reading the article that your Facebook friend posted entitled, “Science Says Tequila May Help you Lose Weight” or “Red Wine Makes You Live Longer” does not count!
Avoid misleading information and find the answers for yourself. What a bottle of alcohol may not tell you, a quick Google search will. Want to know what’s in a shot of Jack Daniel’s? Type in “Jack Daniel’s Nutrition Facts” and you will find that a 1.5-ounce serving has 98 calories.
2. More alcohol content means more calories.
Whether a wine is red, white, sweet, or dry, the alcohol content is the most important factor in determining the calorie content of a wine. The same goes for liquor and beer. Don’t fall victim to the marketing schemes of low-calorie liquors– you are often paying more for a lower proof liquor.
3. Not all beers are created equal.
Lovers of craft beers, beware. Although, the ‘hoppiness’ in itself does not necessarily correlate with the calorie content of a beer, hoppy beers sometimes have more sugar to balance out the bitterness. This additional residual sugar from fermentation also contributes calories.
For example, a Sierra Nevada Torpedo India pale ale (IPA) contains about 250 calories, while a Coors Light contains only about 100 calories. The Torpedo IPA has 19 grams of carbohydrates (approximately equal to the carbs you would get from a slice of bread), while the Coors Light only has 5 grams of carbs.
Going back to my point in #2; the caveat here is that the Torpedo IPA is 7.2 % alcohol, while the Coors Light is only 4.2%. Trading a low calorie, alcohol by volume beer for that Torpedo IPA won’t do you much good if you have to drink more of them to get the desired effect.
Try to choose a beer where you get the most “bang for your buck”, or in this case, the highest alcohol content for the least amount of calories.
4. Make smart substitutions.
Tonic Water, Grenadine, Simple syrup, blue curacao, and any liqueurs add calories to mixed drinks. If you are making your own cocktails at home, swap tonic water for seltzer water, swap simple syrup for liquid stevia (a natural calorie-free sweetener), and swap coconut liqueur for coconut extract.
A pina colada is notoriously high in calories and sugar, but it can easily be made into a guilt-free treat by blending up fresh bananas, pineapple, coconut extract, stevia and a splash of rum. If you are at a bar or restaurant, try to stick to beer or a simple vodka-seltzer with lime.
5. Moderation is key.
Whether you are actively trying to lose weight, or you are simply trying to stay healthy, alcohol is fine in moderation. Make yourself aware of how many calories you’re consuming in alcohol and adjust your intake from there.
Connect here with WatchFit Expert Charmaine Jones, MS, RDN, LDN