HEALTHY HUSKY: Alcohol: How those nights of socializing might pack on the pounds
Published: Friday, October 18, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 18, 2013 00:10
A health column on alcohol may seem like an easy way out with regards to the diatribe that could so easily be recycled from DARE programs and RAs. However, the fact is, I cannot change the recreation habits of college with simple calls for the consideration of your future liver health. Nor do I want to preach to you about the societal harm your relaxation habits are causing. Rather, it would be more appropriate for me to shed light on some of the misconceptions that may exist regarding the alleged health issues of alcohol, especially when put in the context of healthy eating.
One of the largest misconceptions regarding alcohol is the amount of calories each drink contains. 12 ounces (a can) of beer contains about 150 calories. While this may not seem like an exorbitant amount, think of the consequences over the course of a night. 8 beers would result in 1,200 calories. For a college aged male this equates to about one half your daily calories. And while you may be saying, “I only drink light beer” you would only be saving yourself 400 calories and still defeating the best attempts at a healthy lifestyle.
Recent news stories may have sought to dispel the myth that beer leads to a “beer belly” in that beer has no magical fat creating properties; the fact remains that when you consume (drink) more calories than you burn they will be deposited as fat.
As for other types of drinks you may enjoy, they provide no relief for the calorie dilemma that alcohol brings to the table. Five ounces of wine, while providing some healthy antioxidants, provides just as many calories as 12 ounces of beer. Labeling one alcoholic beverage as better than the others is a logical fallacy. So the next time you decide to take a Tour de Franzia, don’t consider it an athletic feat as a beer belly could just as easily be a wine gut.
Similarly a 1 1/2 ounce shot of hard liquor supplies 100 calories. This combined with mixers that are often high in calories as well leads to a drink that may be worth the walk to Carriage (to burn off some of the calories). Popular drinks at bars, like Long Island Ice Teas, or other drinks that combine multiple types of alcohol can lead to calories counts over 200.
While this may shed new light on your alcohol consumption in terms of your weight management goals, the fact remains that drinking in moderation is still fine. Where the problems are introduced is when binge drinking overloads your system with both alcohol and calories. When you couple this with the common practice of eating an extra meal late after a night of drinking the reason behind weight gain in college becomes a lot less mysterious.