It's that time of year; yes the holidays where alcohol consumption increases by over 30%! Alcohol actually has a number of benefits such as reducing stress (temporarily of course) and elevating GABA (neurotransmitter in the brain that makes you feel good).
Alcohol is very unique when it comes to digestion and metabolism. It's like an ambulance racing down the middle of the street while everyone else pulls over to the side and waits until it's passed before driving again. Alcohol calories must be burned off before your body can burn the calories from the protein, carbs and fat you consume. So if you drink a six-pack that has 900 calories in it, your body has to burn those 900 calories before it even begins to burn the calories from your daily food intake.
I'm not going to tell you not to drink because if a hangover or bad decision hasn't stopped you, telling you how it may be fueling your love handles probably wont either. Instead I'm going to show you the best of the worst when it comes to alcohol consumption and what you should avoid.
My first choice is red wine (white is okay but red is better). Red wine contains a polyphenol called resveratrol (can also be taken in supplement form) which some believe to be one of the most powerful anti-aging substances available. A couple of glasses can deliver some antioxidants but that doesnt mean the whole bottle will be more beneficial. Any more than a few glasses will have a diminishing return.
My second choice would be unflavored vodka with water. If you add some lemon (amazing detoxifier - liver specifically) or lime it's a pretty tasty drink. Alcohol dehydrates the body so drinking water along with it will keep you more hydrated than if it were mixed with regular pop or taken as a shot.
Thirdly I would go for unflavored vodka, rum, whisky or gin with soda water or diet pop. The chemicals in diet pop are not great for your body in large quantities but in moderation there is nothing wrong with them. The sugar in regular pop does much worse things than the aspartame or sucralose in a few diet pops will.
Lastly I advise avoiding beer and flavored spirits with juice or regular pop. These drinks are extremely high in calories and definitely not the good kind. For reasons I can't fit in a short article, consuming these drinks in large quantities is a recipe for fat storage and brutal hangovers.
Calories in some popular drinks:
Vodka/rum/whisky/gin - single w/ water 60 cals.
Vodka/rum/whisky/gin - single w/ diet pop 60 cals.
Vodka/rum/whisky/gin - single w/ regular pop (1/2 can) 135 cals.
Red/white wine -175ml (glass) 120-130 cals.
Beer -1 can (depending on type) 135-200 cals.
Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram so when you look at the number of calories in some of the most popular drinks it's really easy to consume upwards of 750-1000 calories in a given night. A six-pack has anywhere from 800-1200 calories and just five rum and regular cokes has 675 calories!
If you're looking to improve your physique, which I'm sure most of you are otherwise you wouldn't be reading this article, be aware of how many calories you're consuming when you drink. You may want to put on some muscle or lean down but if you're taking in large quantities of alcohol on a weekly basis it's extremely hard to do (trust me I've tried more than a few times). Keep your alcohol intake to 6 drinks per week at most and remember that moderation is the key!