Consider Calorie Impact of Alcoholic Beverages

jamie-lyn-pittmanJamie Pittman is currently a graduate student at East Carolina University where she is obtaining her MAEd in Health Education.  She also works full-time as a grant coordinator at the North Carolina Alliance for Athletics, Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (NCAAHPERD) in Raleigh, NC. Jamie is also an active member of MyDIR, the community.

Week after week friends complain to me that they “can’t lose weight,” that they are doing “EVERYTHING!” and their weight just won’t budge.  These same people go out and drink five or more drinks at least one to two nights a week.  You might think–what’s the harm in a little social drinking?  You should be allowed at least one “cheat” day a week where you can eat and drink whatever you want, right?

Alcohol contains calories (I promise—all alcohol contains calories!), 7 calories per gram to be exact and they add up quickly.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites that the average alcoholic beverage is 13.7 grams, or about 96 calories.

In addition to drinking alcohol, you must consider the food choices that result from the late night out and the potential hangover the next day that keeps you from hitting the gym.  I think it is safe to make the generalization that most people are not going to choose an apple over pizza, or workout after a heavy night of drinking.  It’s a snowball effect.

MargaritaLet’s consider a typical night out for the average person with friends:

  • 8pm: Makes a drink while waiting for friends to arrive
    • Vodka (one 80 proof shot) + Club Soda = 96 calories
  • 9pm-11pm: Friends arrive; Drink socially until its time to go to the bars
    • 3 light beers (12oz each) = 288 calories
  • 11pm-1am: Hang out and drink with friends for a few hours
    • 2 light beers (12 oz each) = 192 calories
  • 1:30am: Hungry upon arriving home; Share frozen pizza with friends
    • 1/3 of frozen pizza = 300 calories
  • Total Calories Consumed Between 8pm-1:30am = 876

Don’t get me wrong—I love to go out and have a good time like everyone else.  However, I know that if I am going to be serious about losing weight then drinking more than a drink a day is not a possibility. Try to find alternatives to going out to bars and stay focused on your goals.  Eventually, it will all fall into place.

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