Enjoying a cocktail or alcoholic beverage on occasion can be viewed as relaxing, but when consumed in excess, alcohol can lead to health concerns.
Most people are aware that the food they consume contains calories, but they may not realize the amount of calories that alcohol contributes to daily intake.
To put it in perspective, carbohydrates and proteins both contribute 4 calories per gram. Fat provides 9 calories per gram. In contrast, alcohol contributes 7 calories per gram, and calories can range from 100 calories for a 12 oz. light beer to as much as 270 calories for a 4 oz. margarita.
Studies have also shown that alcohol consumption also stimulates food intake, thereby increasing total calorie intake. Increased weight can increase the risk for Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
To control your calorie intake when drinking alcohol, try alternating non-alcoholic, low calorie beverages between each alcoholic drink and keeping water available to quench thirst and remain hydrated. Choose non-caloric mixers such as seltzer water or diet sodas to decrease the caloric content of each beverage.
Above all, for good health it is most important to limit the number of alcoholic beverages consumed. The recommendations per the government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans are no more than one alcoholic beverage for women and two for men on a daily basis.
Are you looking for ways to improve your health when it comes to nutrition? Check out the hospital’s nutrition counseling services.
Alison Manger-Weikel, R.D., L.D.N., is the director of food, environmental and patient transportation services at Carroll Hospital Center.