This is my ultimate guide to carbs in alcohol – the good, the bad and the ugly. You can still enjoy alcohol when living low carb, but by making better choices and in moderation. Alcohol can be a tonic or toxic – it depends on how much and how often.
All images are use with permission from dietdoctor.com. You can read his article here.
Carbs in alcohol
One of the most frequent questions I am asked by newcomers who are contemplating living low carb and sugar free, is “can I still drink alcohol?” “How many carbs in alcohol?” For many readers, it is a deal breaker whether they will even contemplate starting. And readers who have been living low carb for some time want to know why their weight has stalled, could it be their Friday night cocktails?
How much alcohol do you drink?
Firstly let me say, I love my wine and and I love bubbles. I love a drink with friends as much as the next person, but I know not to drink to excess, and not to drink too often.
Occasional drinks with friends and family is a wonderful way to celebrate, relax, unwind and socialise. As long as alcohol is consumed in moderation and you choose low carb options, you can still enjoy alcohol.
Do you know how many drinks you have each week? You need to be completely honest with yourself, and if even the thought of cutting back on alcohol is frightening, you need to get serious about how much and how often you drink.
I know plenty of people that could not entertain the idea of having a night with friends without excessive alcohol yet they complain they can’t lose weight or have medical problems that are associated with alcohol use.
They would never associate the two but make no mistake, excessive alcohol is damaging. It is linked to cancer (especially breast, liver and colon), weight gain, alcoholic liver disease, anaemia and heart disease.
How alcohol affects our body
The health concerns (don’t underestimate these)
- Alcohol will always be metabolised before anything else in the liver because it is a toxin.
- Alcohol is not your friend if you are trying to lose belly fat.
- You may be able to drink in moderation but make no mistake, it will stop weight loss and even cause weight gain.
- If you want to breakthrough a weight loss plateau, stop alcohol completely until you see the results you want.
- Alcohol lowers your self control when it comes to eating healthy foods.
- Alcohol will increase your cravings and appetite (you get the ‘munchies’).
- Alcohol can cause fatty liver disease.
The health benefits (don’t overestimate these)
- Alcohol may be good for heart health, but only if consumed in moderation (otherwise it may adversely affect heart health).
- Red wine can be a great source of reservatrol, an antioxidant. But not in excess.
- Alcohol is a relaxant.
Carbs in alcohol
Beer is just liquid bread
Image credit :: Diet Doctor, carbs in alcohol. Used with permission
Beer is made from grains (oats, barley, wheat, rye), malt (sugar) and yeast. They don’t call a big gut a “beer belly” for nothing. Beer was originally brewed to provide nourishment for adults and children alike, especially during periods of fasting. So next time you order a beer, ponder for a moment on whether you are actually ordering a liquid meal.
Don’t confuse low carb beer with low alcohol beer. Many perceive them as healthier so consume more of them.
Cider – let’s just say SUGAR SUGAR SUGAR
Cider is fermented apple juice, many are incredibly sweet. Cider varies considerably from brand to brand. Let’s take a look at a few examples. Each is per 12 fl oz serving Amber 28g, Bittersweet barrels aged, 21g, Granny smith 11g, Harpoon 10g, Woodchuck summer cider 25g
Spirits, liqueurs and mixers – the good, the bad and the ugly
Image credit :: Diet Doctor, carbs in alcohol. Used with permission.
Sweet liqueurs, stop buying them – amaretto 17g, Baileys 7.4g, Blue curaçao 7g, Cointreau 7g, Creme de menthe 22g, Jaegermeister 27g, Kailua 15g, Peach Schnapps 8g, Samba 18g. carbs per 1 oz/37ml serving.
Spirits can be a great low carb alcohol choice, most are zero carb. What you mix them with can be the problem. Whisky on the rocks is a good low carb option but rum and coke (or even worse, Red Bull) is probably the worst choice you can make.
Cocktails can be a total disaster. They are mixed with sugar syrups, high sugar juice or soda, and high sugar liqueurs. Make your own so you know what went into the cocktail, or limit yourself to just one then swap onto a lower carb option.
Why not mix your usual spirit with water, diet drinks or soda water? Instead of a single shot in a small tumbler, ask for a single shot in a tall glass so it will last longer through the night. And why not try alternating an alcoholic drink with just the mixer?
Wine can be a great option – just not the sweet ones
Avoid the sweet wines and the sticky dessert wines, instead, choose the dry wines and the less sweet varieties.
Red wines :: Cabernet sauvignon 3.8g, Merlot 3.7g, Pinot noir 3.4g, Shiraz Syrah 3.8g Zinfandel 4.2g per 5 fl oz/147ml glass
White wines :: Chardonnay 3.2g, Dessert wines 20.2g, Muscat 7.8g, Riesling 5.5g, Sauvignon blanc 3g per 5 fl oz/147ml glass
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