How Alcohol Affects Your Nutrition — and Your Waistline

Are you looking for ways to keep your waistline in control? Consider watching your alcohol use. Alcohol includes its fair share of calories, and it can also affect one’s judgment when it comes to making smart food choices.

Facts About Alcohol and Your Weight

Alcohol is relatively high in calories. A 5-ounce glass of wine typically has 110 calories. 91 come from the alcohol (13 grams) and five grams come from carbohydrates.

Let’s take a closer look at those calories. Unlike carbohydrates, proteins and fats, the calories from alcohol are what is known as empty calories — they have no nutrition. The way our body’s processes calories from alcohol results in greater fat storage. And can show on the waistline.

The calories in alcohol are concentrated in a relatively small amount of fluid. People who drink may not be aware of the number of drinks (and the calories) they’ve consumed.

Alcohol loosens the inhibitions. While drinking, it’s easy for people to also lose track of what and how much they’re eating.

Alcohol can stimulate the appetite. Since it provides little nutrition, alcohol can leave people hungry for other foods. At events with alcohol, fatty and salty foods are often served, so people may eat more of these low-nutrition foods. You should make a point of tracking what you eat when drinking alcohol.

Potential Medical Issues

Along with an awareness of alcohol and weight, you should know that alcohol can irritate the stomach lining and damage the kidneys and liver. In extreme cases, overdrinking can result in death.

If you have questions about how alcohol can affect your health, visit with your health care provider or read our guidelines for safe drinking. If needed, you’ll also find helpful information about how to talk with someone who has an alcohol abuse problem.

When you choose to drink, consider lower-calorie options.

One glass low-alcohol wine:

74 calories (with 66 from alcohol)

One can of lite beer:

105 calories (with 78 from alcohol)

One glass of white wine (Riesling, Chablis):

120 calories (with 98 from alcohol)

One glass of red wine (claret):

123 calories (with 105 calories from alcohol)

One glass of table wine:

124 calories (with 108 from alcohol)

One can of low-alcohol beer – 2.3% alcohol:

139 calories

One can of beer – 4-5% alcohol:

153 calories (with 97 calories from alcohol)

One ounce of liquor – 40% alcohol (gin, rum, vodka, whiskey)

64 calories (when using mixers, keep in mind they’ll often add calories, too)

Meet the Author

Jim Michael Bell, MD is a family medicine physician at Aurora Advanced Healthcare in Hubertus, WI.

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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