Generally speaking, when people try to lose weight, the first thing that goes is sugar. Junk foods that are high in sugar are the most obviously unhealthy thing in your diet. Plus, they taste great and it’s easy to get carried away.
Alcohol is also high on the list, but many people would rather have a glass of wine or two than a slice of pie. Over the holidays, it’s normal to want to let loose and have a few drinks, but alcohol is one of the most calorie-dense things you can consume.
Protein, carbohydrates, and fats are the three macronutrients. Everything you eat and drink consists of these three things. Protein and carbohydrates are 4 calories per gram, so if you eat something that’s pure protein or pure fat, they have the same calorie content at a given weight.
Fat is over twice as energy dense. It has 9 calories per gram, so if you have something that’s pure fat it has over twice the amount of calories at a given weight compared to something that’s pure carbs and/or protein.
Alcohol isn’t a macronutrient, but it’s almost as energy dense as fat. There’s 7 calories per gram of alcohol, almost twice the amount of protein or carbs. That means, if you eat something that’s pure sugar, it has almost half the amount of calories at a given weight as something that’s pure alcohol.
Of course, a drink isn’t pure alcohol. However, there’s roughly the same amount of alcohol in a glass of wine, bottle of beer, one shot, and a cocktail. Each is roughly 120 calories, but cocktails can have hundreds of calories added, depending on the drink.
When you see how calorie-dense alcohol is, you understand that choosing between dessert and an extra glass of wine isn’t an obvious choice. In fact, they could be very similar in terms of calorie content.
Consider also that alcohol lowers your inhibitions. Even a drink or two can erode your free will, making it harder to resist more food. Plus, alcohol tricks your body into thinking that you’re consuming sugar. Alcohol isn’t metabolized and used the same way as sugar, but it looks so similar that your body will stop producing its own carbohydrates for a little while.
The liver produces sugars when it senses that your blood sugar is low. When you drink, it stops producing sugars and your blood sugar drops, making you hungry. The calories in alcohol aren’t the only problem, it can alter your eating habits in a few ways.
That’s why you might want to reconsider your choice between dessert and a drink. Plus, that slice of pie or cake won’t make you feel groggy the next morning. It might even make you more energized.