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More Training Info > Alcohol and Training

FAQ: Alcohol and Training: Just the Facts

Q: I like to have several glasses of wine with dinner each night, but I know I have weight to lose before next season’s climbing begins. What’s your input on alcohol and conditioning, particularly as it relates to weight loss?

A: This is a very touchy and loaded topic near and dear to many people’s hearts (as well as waistlines), so we will stick solely to the facts.

Energy per gram

If you look at energy values of alcoholic beverages compared to that supplied by carbohydrates, protein and fat, you will find the following: per gram, carbohydrates supply 4 calories, protein 4 calories, fat 9 calories, and alcohol 7 calories. The take-home message from this is if you are trying to reduce bodyweight and you are consuming more than 6 oz. of alcohol on any given day, this would be a good area to consider reducing consumption. Note we’re not saying ELIMINATING, we’re merely suggesting REDUCING.

Nutritional value

If you are on a calorie restricted diet to begin with, and are still consuming alcohol regularly, it may be that you are not getting the nutrients necessary for a well-rounded, healthful diet, as alcohol (at 100 calories or more per “serving”) generally is devoid of other nutrients. Keep in mind that ANY caloric beverage counts toward your total daily intake, whether that is orange juice, beer, wine, or soda pop.

A great way to make sure you are getting the nutrition you need is to limit any non-water beverages to one a day and make sure the rest is water. If you consume 3-4 glasses of wine with dinner, approximately 300-400 calories, or 20% of your average 2000 daily calories (for the average adult; intake recommendations vary greatly from one individual to the next) is not supplying the nutrients your body needs to repair itself and rebuild.

Hydration requirements

Finally, as is typically the case, anyone consuming alcohol runs increased risk of dehydration. The easiest way to counter this is to be certain that, if you are drinking alcohol, you are drinking at least 2 8-ounce servings of water per 6-8 ounces of alcohol. This is especially important for athletes who need additional water for optimal performance.

The long and short of it is this: if you want to lose weight and have already tried increasing your amount of activity and decreasing your total food and beverage intake, but you are still frustrated with your weight loss progress and continue to consume more than 6 oz of alcohol a day, one place to start is reducing alcoholic consumption.


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