I get questions about alcohol commonly in my group texting programs. While drinking a LARGE amount of alcohol every day is NOT a part of ANY healthy diet plan, drinking a MODERATE amount has actually been shown to be BENEFICIAL for health and associated with longevity.
This comes with MANY caveats!! Please READ ON!
First and foremost, WHAT is the DEFINITION of “a moderate amount of alcohol”?
Typically, this means 1-2 drinks daily and NOT everyday or even most days. If you are an EVERYDAY drinker you are unlikely to be able to stop drinking on a dime due to either physical or emotional dependence on alcohol. You know you have a physical dependence if you get shaky without a drink. You know you have emotional dependence if you get angry, lose your temper easily, or have uncontrolled worry or anxiety without a drink.If you are “dependant” on alcohol you are by definition an “alcoholic”—therefore, NOT a moderate consumer of alcohol. The lines are gray… judge for yourself how big your problem may be… If you have a significant problem with alcohol it may be difficult for you to undertake a dietary lifestyle change as well. This will cause you to be tackling two big problems at once instead of just one. Not impossible, but definitely requires more caution. Please let me know if you think this may be a concern for you!
This begs the question, how much alcohol is equal to ONE drink?
For an alcoholic the definition of “just one” can mean“just one BOTTLE”. There is a standard that exists when it comes to alcohol. In other words, all of the following "drinks" are EQUAL in terms of HOW MANY GRAMS of PURE ALCOHOL they provide. It is imperative that NEW drinkers learn this!
Each of these "standard equivalent" drinks contains 14 grams of pure grain alcohol:
· 12 ounces of regular beer
· 8 ounces of malt liquor
· 5 ounces of dry wine
· 3 ounces of sherry or port
· 2 ounces of cordial type liqueurs
· 1.5 ounces of brandy
· 1.5 ounces (a shot) of 80 proof distilled spirits
Note: "shots" are not often measured out -- you may be getting more or less in your drink!
Can I drink alcohol while participating in your diet programs?
Most of my clients are not heavy consumers of alcohol. However, most do not completely abstain from alcohol either. It’s ok to continue to include moderate alcohol use in a low carb lifestyle, but probably best if you do not drink alcohol in the very beginning.
ACCELERATOR and ALCOHOL:
When you are first learning how to create a low carb diet for yourself I ask you to pay close attention to the signals your body is giving you. I want you to learn to recognize true hunger, be able to assess your energy levels and mood, and be able to distinguish what is making you feel better and worse in your diet. Throwing alcohol into the 3 weeks of intense ACCELERATOR training can really “muddy the waters” of the scientific study I am asking you to conduct on yourself. If you want to learn the most and get the best results for your money from that program it is best not to drink during those 3 weeks. However, if cutting out alcohol makes you not want to participate, I'm sure we can find some common ground.
***Special note: if you eat a low carb diet, the effect of ALCOHOL will be much more pronounced!. This means you will easily GET DRUNK fast with a much smaller intake. Be very careful when combining alcohol with a low carb diet. DO NOT PLAN TO DRIVE!***
EVOLUTION and ALCOHOL:
I generally recommend that clients join me in EVOLUTION after months of practice with low carb. By this time, you are very accustomed to how you feel with and without carbs in your diet. You can begin to experiment with adding alcohol to meals if you like. After months of practice, you can easily include a glass or two of wine with dinner or a drink with friends occasionally and have no real concerns. Try choosing low carb drinks for best results.
Note: I am not recommending more than one or two drinks on any occasion. If you are sticking to low carb- you will remain "a light weight" with alcohol. If you feel you need more, you should reassess how to change this physical or emotional habit you have created. More than moderate alcohol use causes deleterious effects on health. Perhaps start trying to water/ice down your drinks. If you are that WEEKEND WARRIOR kind of drinker and you are not reaching your goals, see below:
Can I still lose weight while including alcohol in my low carb diet?
Maybe! This is where terminology related to alcohol can get confusing. Even if you are drinking a ZERO carb drink, this is not equivalent to drinking AIR. That ZERO carb drink DOES HAVE CALORIES. Here’s how the calories stack up gram per gram in your different macro-nutrients:
- Carbs 1 g = 4 calories
- Protein 1 g = 4 calories
- Ketones 1 g= 4 calories
- Fat 1 g = 9 calories (this is where your SATIETY comes from!)
- Alcohol 1 g = 7 calories
Note!! Pure alcohol has almost as many calories as pure fat! This means that your standard ONE drink equivalent (14 grams of pure alcohol) contains 98 CALORIES!
In other words, if you have 4 drinks in a night, you have taken in an EXTRA 400 calories. That WILL matter when you are trying to lose weight!
I know I am always telling my clients to NOT count calories! That’s because it is very difficult to overdo it with calories when it comes to protein, fat, and the complex carbs found in low carb fibrous vegetables!
Alternatively, it’s VERY EASY to overdo it with alcohol! Not only does liquid not FILL UP your stomach like food, but alcohol itself has the ability to "uncouple" the THINKING and CONSEQUENCES part of your brain from your body. This often leads to over-consumption of not just alcohol, but all macro-nutrients! A night of drinking often leads to fast food drive thru stops and fried bar foods!
BOTTOM LINE!! BE CAREFUL and KNOWLEDGEABLE regarding alcohol and it’s effects on your brain, your body, your goals, and your overall health! It can