It is very rare these days that I meet a person who is not imbibing some “liquid courage” on a Saturday night. Most Americans drink and drink quite a bit. According the annual survey done by Gallup, most Americans drink an average of 4.5 drinks a week and most choose beer as their choice drink. 52% of women choose wine and 55% of men choose beer as their drink of choice. And according to Chacha, this number equals 38 six packs, 12 bottles of wine and 2 quarts of liquor. That’s 500-650 calories per bottle of wine, up to 900 calories for a six-pack of beer and anywhere from 60-140 calories for an ounce of liquor (and there are 32 ounces in 1 quart).
When you add up all that alcohol it equals up to 34,200 calories just for beer, 7,800 calories for wine and up to 8,960 calories for liquor. Total that up? 50,960 calories! So what does that mean? Well there are 3,500 calories in a pound of fat. So the average American drinks enough alcohol to add up to 14.56 pounds of fat per year to his/her body. This doesn’t even factor in the calories of the mixers that most people have in their drink choice. Not to mention the horrible foods Americans tend to crave when they drink which add plenty more calories to that.
So then it is easy to see one of the reasons Americans are overweight. Alcohol clearly plays a large part in obesity but not many people are willing to cut alcohol out completely. For some people, it is alright to drink a glass of wine or can of beer on occasion. For others, it is harder to regulate. But let’s look at what is better for our bodies in terms of alcohol.
According to The Independent, alcohol does a whole lot of nothing good for your body. Alcohol is a vasodilator, so blood vessels relax allowing more blood to flow which results in a drop in pressure. Sounds great until you realize that the body has to make up for this increasing the heart rate to allow for sufficient blood flow to the organs. Even two glasses of wine or beer can irritate the digestive system and block the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. And the dehydrating effects of alcohol will make your skin look more wrinkled than it actually is. As alcohol is broken down in the liver, “by-products such as acetaldehyde are formed, some of which are more toxic to the body than alcohol itself. It is these that can eventually attack the liver and cause cirrhosis. A heavy night of drinking upsets both the delicate balance of enzymes in the liver and fat metabolism. Over time, this can lead to the development of fatty globules that cause the organ to swell.”
But then there are other studies that suggest that drinking moderately can increase good cholesterol and red wine does have antioxidants in the form of resveratrol and that has been shown to decrease your risk for heart disease. However if you do not drink, no one recommends that you pick up drinking for health reason. So what is moderation? No MORE than one drink for women and two for men per day. Long term use is what is the most concerning. Drinking every day is and drinking a lot is what you need to pay attention to. And some people just should not drink alcohol because after alcohol is a depressant and leads to feelings of depression.
So where do the rest of the alcohols come from? Well here is the shortened list: Ale is from malt with hops; beer is from malted cereal grain with hops; bourbon is from whiskey distilled from corn and aged in charred oak barrels for a minimum of two years; Brandy is distilled from wine or fruit juice (Paleo friendly); Cognac is distilled from white wine (Paleo friendly); Gin is distilled from grain then flavored with juniper berries; Rum is distilled from molasses or sugarcane juice; Sake is made from rice (has a lower acidity than wine, no sulfites/headaches, and can be effective in preventing cancer); Tequila comes from Agave nectar; Vodka can come from potatoes, rye or wheat; Whiskey comes from grain like rye, corn or barley; and Scotch typically comes from barley.
I say, drink what you like, drink in moderation (1-3 drinks a week) and always drink lots of water and/or coconut water before and after to avoid the dehydrating effects. I rarely drink more than one drink per week. But that is me. When I do drink alcohol, I stay away from sugary mixers and opt for the “healthier” choices on the list- sake, wine or cider. When I do drink liquor, my body seems to do O.K. with a bit of vodka, but then again I am half Russian, so maybe that has something to do with it.
So drink with caution, avoid alcohols that do not do well for your own body, avoid super sugary mixers and live well.