If you’re anything like the Palate Club team, you love wine and you’re into health and fitness, too. Perhaps you’re looking to trim down and you’ve read cutting out alcohol will fast track your progress. Considering alcohol drink consumption adds to your calorie intake, we’re not here to argue that fact. However, us wine drinkers need to stick together. So, we’re here to help. Let’s shed some light on how to incorporate wine into a healthy lifestyle.
Here are five easy-to-follow tips on how you can skip cutting out alcohol without sabotaging your health and fitness goals.
1) Prepare yourself beforehand! Mind your meals before drinking.
Eating strategically before going out for drinks with your friends (or by yourself, no judging here) will help you make healthier choices. To better understand how what we eat and drink impacts our wellness, let’s break down the science of calories in alcohol and our basic macronutrients.
Food is made of three primary macronutrients, which all possess calories in varying amounts:
- Proteins have 4 calories per gram
- Carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram
- Fat has 9 calories per gram
Alcohol contains calories, but does not fall into any of the above mentioned categories. Thus, it’s usually considered a fourth macronutrient. Alcohol possesses fewer calories than fat with 7 calories per gram.
Weight gain from drinking isn’t a direct response from alcohol being stored as fat—but rather alcohol makes it much more likely the fat you ingest beforehand will be stored in the body. Consequently, when your body is confronted with metabolizing fat and alcohol, it will prioritize the alcohol—and the neglected fat then gets absorbed by the body.
Eating healthy meals before you drink is a strategic way to counter this process. A diet of protein-dense foods and high-fiber vegetables will help you stay trim even without cutting out alcohol. These foods will keep you fuller longer and prevent late night drunk munchies. Additionally, there is a lower likelihood of your body retaining fat if there is less of it in your system to begin with.
2) Choose drinks strategically to skip cutting out alcohol completely.
In addition to making healthier choices for your pre-drinking meals, select your alcoholic beverages wisely. The range of calories in alcoholic drinks varies considerably between spirits, wine, and mixed drinks. The more complicated the drink, the more calories it’s likely to contain.
First, stay away from mixed drinks that possess fruit juices, sugar syrups, or liqueurs, which are full of carbohydrates. To cut back massively on these extra carbohydrates, go for straight spirits, such as vodka, gin, rum, etc. You can mix your spirit of choice with zero or low-calorie mixers like soda water.
Dry wines have significantly fewer calories than sweeter wines. While white wine generally has a bit less calories than red wine. If you want to be more specific, think about choosing Old World wines from Europe that tend to be lower in alcohol. Big rich and fruity red wines, such as California Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, will likely have the most calories. Plus, stay away from wines which have been sweetened by manipulation, such as Moscato or White Zinfandel.
Calories in beer are more tricky to count. Since there are so many different styles and serving sizes, calories vary significantly due to a beer’s malt to hops ratio and how long it’s fermented. Generally, the richer the beer, the more calories. IPAs and stouts top the list, rounding out to nearly 200 calories for a 12oz bottle. Light beers such as Michelob, Corona, and Miller’s stay relatively low at around 55 calories. These typically don’t contain added sugar. If you’re a beer drinker, try to limit the bold, large format, craft brews to just one, and round it out with something a bit lighter afterward.
3) Drunk eating. Don’t do it.
This is a very obvious fact, but one of the hardest to abide by since self-control diminishes as intoxication sets in. It’s hard to argue with an inebriated version of yourself, but try to make an effort. Those calories are going to be turned straight into body fat. If you get home and you absolutely need nourishment, have a small amount of fiber-rich food such as whole-grain cereal. At this point, make sure to drink a ton of water to help process the alcohol and make the next morning easier.
4) Watch yourself the next day…you’re not out of the woods yet.
If you had a long night of libations, you’ll probably feel a bit worse for wear the next day. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it makes you dehydrated. Subsequently, dehydration exacerbates the feelings of hunger. To cope with high alcohol intake, the body seeks out and desires what will provide it with the most energy—fat. The richest source of energy from the macronutrient family.
Greasy food definitely helps with some stomach pains you might be having. However, even in an attempt to feel better, it’s best to avoid a meal you wouldn’t have otherwise. Instead, cereal grains or oatmeal, which is high in fiber, will keep you fuller longer. Even a smart portion size before bed will help you feel less hungry the next day. Furthermore, drink lots of water before bed again to help rehydrate your body faster.
5) Practice calorie counting and moderation.
The best way to keep your weight and health goals a top priority without cutting out alcohol is a bit of advice you probably don’t want to or need to hear. Moderation. The more empty calories you consume with alcohol, the more likely you’ll be transforming it into fat. Limit your alcohol consumption to one or two nights a week. Consuming empty calories with alcohol won’t help with your fat loss.
Accordingly, categorize your alcohol consumption into two types of days, a casual drinking day, which would be a typical weeknight with maybe a glass of wine or two. Think of those days in the same way you might be tracking your calorie limit. More serious drinking days should be limited (naturally) to a few times a month at most. For these days, make sure to follow the previous advice of excluding carbohydrates, fats, and sugars in your diet beforehand, which will then help prevent storing extra fat.
And there you have it, five simple tips to reach your health goals without cutting out alcohol. Let yourself enjoy life, but a balance of healthy eating, regular exercise, and responsible drinking (or at least more-responsible drinking) is completely possible.
In the mood for great wine yet?
Take our quiz to discover the best wines from around the world matched to your taste.Take your wine style quiz