To Drink or Not to Drink

One of the most common questions surrounding weight loss is “Do I have to stop drinking alcohol to lose weight?”  For many, forgoing fast food, ignoring the candy bowl at work, and switching from a side of potato chips to a side of steamed veggies seems simple.  But what about the occasional cocktail on a Saturday night or the trusty glass of wine that helps you wind down from your hectic day?  For most of us, alcohol is a small yet beloved indulgence to celebrate occasions and complete sporting experiences.  But the dirty truth to alcohol (and not just martinis) is that it’s a dieter’s nightmare.

With 7 calories per gram, any weight loss expert will tell you the number of calories in alcohol is second only to the number of calories in fat (9 cals/g).  As many healthy diets call for lowering the amount of fats (especially saturated and trans fats) in your food intake, the nightly glass of beer or wine can undo many of your efforts.  What’s worse, alcohol offers no nutritional value and contains empty calories.  According to, “Your body can’t store alcohol, so it must metabolize it right away.  When you drink alcohol, your body makes metabolizing it a priority over all other metabolic processes.”  All of a sudden, the innocent white wine you ordered to accompany your spinach salad makes a direct attack on your healthy goals.

So what’s the verdict; to drink or not to drink?  Bottom line, avoid alcohol at all costs… Your waist line, your diet (and your liver) will thank you for it.  But if you choose to indulge, make sure you’re aware of how much you’re drinking—especially the sugary mixers that accompany most drinks—and account for fat and calories accordingly. But because we live in the real world, we’ve taken the liberty of breaking down the alcohol and sugar content of several common libations in this handy chart. Take a look and proceed with caution!