Diary / Wellness / Sep 26, 2022
A Dietitian on What You Need to Know About Alcohol
Written by: Dr. Jaime Schehr N.D, R.D
"What's The Deal With" is a series from Dr. Jaime Schehr (N.D., R.D) that explores the latest health news, buzzy ingredients, and answers your most asked wellness questions.
Drinking more lately? You’re not alone. From zoom happy hours to real happy hours to simply boredom drinking, increased alcohol has been one of the greatest obstacles for my clients in quarantine.
Most already know that alcohol wreaks havoc on sleep, energy, and waistlines, while at the same time alcohol can be social and soothing. Much like food, we use alcohol as a way to connect, to experience, and enjoy. So it all makes sense why people have been drinking more while staying home.
Breaking down the nutrition
Alcohol is sugar. It’s got more calories per gram than a normal carbohydrate and definitely affects weight loss efforts.( When it comes to the calorie and carbohydrate content of alcohol vs non-alcohol carbohydrate sources, alcohol has 7 calories per gram where non-alcohol carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram.) Furthermore, drinking has a depressive effect on our neurological system, making it harder to get up and go for that workout or motivate the next day.
Is one type of alcohol better than another?
People often ask: what is the best alcohol to drink? There is no one “best,” but there are some that are better than others. For example, a glass of red wine will have more antioxidants and can be argued as healthier—however, the carbohydrates in alcohol provide no other nutrient benefit compared to food based carbohydrates sources which can be nutrient dense.
How to manage your intake
- Drink water before your first drink, between drinks and before bed on a night you were drinking.
- Give yourself an alcohol bank. Set a limit to the number of drinks you’ll have each week and commit to that. Whether you have all those drinks in just a few days or spread them out over seven days, keeping the number consistent can be very helpful. (PS: Set the number lower than your current average consumption.)
- If possible, drink before dinner, not after. Having alcohol closer to bedtime can worsen its effect on sleep.
- Avoid any alcohol you are mixing with juices, sodas and other added sugars. Instead, choose seltzer or ice.
- Don’t “skip” eating to save the calories for drinking. This is just a terrible idea.
- Mocktails are totally acceptable for those Zoom calls.
Dr. Jaime Schehr, a nationally recognized expert in integrative medicine and nutrition holds duel licenses as a Naturopathic Physician and Registered Dietitian.