Here's what you need to know about the effects of alcohol on weight gain.
Our relationship with alcohol is like having an on-again-off-again boyfriend: Every time you think you have the situation figured out, the tables turn. One study says positive things about alcohol consumption and our weight, the next… well, doesn’t. What’s the deal? Is there a balance?
As it turns out, yes! It’s likely not the drinking itself that’s the culprit, but how often you drink and how much you pour. Just check out this calorie count provided by Dr. Carmela Sebastian, MS, author of Sex and Spaghetti Sauce: My Italian Mother’s Recipe for Getting Healthy and Getting Busy in Your 50s and Beyond:
Add to that the size of drinking glasses today (I once saw a wine glass that was the size of my head), and you can easily turn your body into one hot mess. You might think you’re only having one serving, but if your glass makes a fish bowl look like a shot glass, you’re likely pouring yourself two to three servings at a time.
And here’s why you can let go of your hatred for your scrawny BFF: Sure, it could be genetics calling the shots, but it’s likely more to do with how she moderates her drinks over the long haul. When you drink one or two drinks a day on a regular basis, your body’s metabolism adjusts to the routine — whereas if you drink occasionally or binge, your body doesn’t know what to do with the excess calories and stores them as fat (enter the dreaded spare tire).
So how do you make sure your relationship with alcohol doesn’t betray your thighs?
Drinking on an empty stomach is the worst thing you can do if you want to moderate your alcohol intake. Once the alcohol hits, you’ll be more likely to indulge in either too much alcohol or too much junk food — or both.
Eating during your night out is just as important so you don’t binge on fast food on the way home. (My greasy food radar goes up hundreds of notches as the night wears on.) When you’re familiar with the menu, you’ll automatically turn to your favorite healthy options — after all, less decision-making equals more time for gossip and laughs.
"Moderate alcohol consumption is defined as having up to one drink per day for women," says Sebastian. Either stick to a bottle of beer or use an ounce-counter so you always know your calorie intake. Or if you’re out and about, buy a drink you’re not that fond of. The less you like it, the less you’ll drink throughout the night.
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