Hello, everyone and welcome back to another edition of Tough Love Tuesday! This is where I do my best to tell you like it is to help you succeed. This is unlikely to be information you want to hear (and it is often information I wish I didn’t know).
Take today’s topic for instance of drinking calories. Most of us have heard various celebrity trainers and doctors alike saying we shouldn’t be drinking our calories. For the most part this refers to sugary drinks like soda and bottled juices. It’s no secret that those can be tough on the gut (in more ways than one), but what about those other calories so many of us drink in via alcohol? I’ve certainly been known to have a drink or two and very much enjoyed the cocktail party portion of the Healthy Living Summit.
For those who track calories in myfitnesspal via another service, you may already have a good idea of what alcohol is doing to your diet. One of the sneakiest things about it though is so few of us actually drink it in standard serving sizes.
How many of you can tell me how much wine is in a standard serving? It’s easy to think, “A standard serving of liquid is 8oz. because that’s a cup.” Not only is this misconception prevalent, the serving sizes for wine on myfitnesspal run the gamut. It seems very few people really understand what a serving of wine (or other booze) looks like.
In reality, a standard serving of wine is 5 oz. That’s it people, just a little over half of what you want in a serving of water.
What about beer? Well that all depends on the type. We know that craft beers pack a bit more of a punch when it comes to ABV (alcohol by volume), but that also means a serving is smaller. A standard serving of a non-craft beer is 12oz., but for the beers with higher alcohol concentrations (also known as malt liquor) a standard serving is 8-9oz. Think about that for a second, how many times have you ordered craft beer and gotten it in an 8-9 oz. serving? My guess is never.
Mixed drinks? How many times have you heard someone say about a mixed drink, “I can’t even taste the alcohol in this!”? That’s probably a good indication there’s only a standard serving in there. A standard serving of hard liquor (spirits) is 1.5 oz., at least for 80-proof spirits. For those with higher alcohol content, make that 1 oz. in a serving.
Now we all know that alcohol is not exactly calorie free, but how many of us stop to consider what that single glass of wine at dinner every night (or even just on the weekends) is doing to our weight loss (or maintenance) efforts?
A standard drink (let’s not even get into sugary mixers at this point, we’re talking beer, wine, and shots of liquor) has between 100-140 calories, which will obviously vary depending on type. If you have a glass of wine each night with dinner, you’re looking at an extra 980 calories per week. That’s 3,920 calories each month! As many of us know there are 3,500 calories in a pound. This means that if your exercise and food habits stay the same, but you have a glass of wine each night, you could be packing on more than a pound a month! That’s more calories than you would get from eating a several burgers in a month.
This isn’t to say you can never have a glass of wine with a meal or a beer while you watch football, but be mindful of what you’re putting into your body. Even if you cut soda out of your diet years ago, you may be taking in much more sugar and calories than you realize, especially when it is so rare to have a drink in a standard size.
So drink up, if you must, but pay attention to what you’re drinking and how much. You may find that it really isn’t worth it to have that second glass after all.