Overweight? Don’t Blame the Booze.

Beer belly? Love handles? There’s a common assumption that drinking alcohol adds unnecessary pounds, and we’ve been told relentlessly that if we’re looking to lose weight, we need to lay off the booze. The problem is, this “universal truth” is not backed up by credible research. Scientific findings suggest no association between drinking and weight gain – in fact, there is some evidence that drinking is actually associated with a lower body weight, particularly in women.

This is good news for those of us who like to imbibe a bit of booze and even daily drinking. Most studies show that “frequent light to moderate alcohol intake does not seem to be associated with obesity risk.” Go ahead and have a couple of crafted cocktails, pints of bitters or Napa wine. Binge drinking (more than four drinks a day), however, may expand your waistline, especially if this drinking leads to less diet control and overeating.

One key to controlling your caloric intake is to make sure you spend the extra calories alcohol provides. Your body uses these calories for fuel, thus decreasing the body’s use of other calories from fats, protein, and carbohydrates. Those of us who drink need to exercise to maintain our body weight. Another key to this balance is self-monitoring – buy a scale or study your reflection in the mirror. If you think you’re gaining because of alcohol, that a hiatus and see if that helps. You will probably find the cause and culprit to be something else in your diet.

When you do drink, make sure you drink quality hooch and watch the mixers. If you’re adding sugar to your cocktails (even in the form of tonic water), learn to enjoy your libation with soda water and citrus instead. Drink craft brews and dry wine. Remember, sugar is the enemy, not the spirits!

Dr. H.