With the U.S. being one of the biggest (weight and population) countries on the globe, there’s no end in sight to the number of health fad and diet questions that come and go so regularly. One of these questions that everyone has heard over the years again and again is,”Which is healthier, beer, liquor, or wine?”. It might be easy to give up that extra piece of cheesecake or that fast food hamburger, but cutting out alcohol, especially for social drinkers, can be something quite different. Today we’re going to discuss the pros and cons of liquor, beer, and wine while on a diet.
The Good– Beer is a strong contender for our country’s favorite alcohol. Not only is the variety of tastes pleasing but it might also surprise you that there are a few benefits to drinking beer. The high water in beer has been known to reduce the chance of kidney stones by as much as 40% while the elevated levels of silicon help mend and build healthier bones. Beer also significantly raises the level of good cholesterol which can lead to a healthier heart.
The Bad-While it has shown some small benefits in moderation the downsides win in a landslide relating to diet. One glass of beer, in my experience, that averages between 115-154 calories doesn’t seem bad to include in your daily caloric intake until you realize that beer, for many, is the potato chip of the drink world. Once you have one, you’ll probably have another, quickly putting this drink out of the healthy range. Along with possible weight gain beer is a diuretic which, while beer is 95% water, will cause dehydration.
The Verdict– Despite its popularity and limited health benefits it seems it may still be unwise to consume beer while trying to lose weight. If you just can’t give it up try switching to a low carb, low calorie, or light beer. Be careful to read the label as many light or low calorie beers can be misleading and not actually healthier to drink.
The Good-Liquor generally gets a bad reputation because of what happens when over-consumed, but it also has some good properties in its unaltered state. Your healthy cholesterol and cardiovascular system could show overall increased blood flow. This lowers the risk of blood clots, heart disease, and atherosclerosis. Along with reducing risk for disease, unmixed liquor has less calories than most beer and drinking less volume of liquid can save you from heartburn and extra gas in your system causing an uncomfortable bloat.
The Bad-Although liquor shows some health benefits, once the drinker passes the moderate drinking level (1-2 per day for women, 2-3 for men) these benefits quickly fade away. While liquor itself has generally less calories than beer or wine, flavored liquors and mixed drinks can carry a much higher amount of sugars and additives. This could make these drinks more unhealthy than any other.
The Verdict– While the idea of liquor starts healthier, with a smaller amount and less calorie intake, adding mixers or choosing a flavored or sweeter liquor can quickly make it unhealthy. When choosing liquor make sure to pick distilled versions and use a zero calorie no sugar drink for mixing.
The Good– Every year, in and out, there are many rumors about the health benefits and pitfalls of drinking wine. Studies from the last ten years have not only shown the benefit of better blood pressure like other alcohols but also less risk of cataracts, colon cancer, stroke, and Type-2 Diabetes. Not only does wine reduce risk for these diseases but certain studies have shown wine to slow the decline of brain function in adults over non-drinkers.
The Bad-While wine can boast the most health benefits in moderation it also has some of the worst diet related stats. One glass of sweet wine could have up to 200 calories per glass which can be detrimental to a diet plan. In excess it also could cause stroke, erectile dysfunction, and can actively reduce fertility in women.
The Verdict-Depending on your daily dietary need, most wines calorie and sugar amount may be enough to keep you far away from this enjoyable drink. Remember that exceeding the daily recommended limit will cancel out the many benefits that could be gained by drinking wine regularly.
In the end, drinking any alcohol will require strict attention to amount and ingredients to be consumed while trying to lose weight. The key to enjoying a drink but losing weight is moderation. Try not to drink in excess to keep from a large intake of empty carbs or sugars and avoid eating afterwards as food can sit in the stomach up to three times longer after drinking alcohol. If you’re smart then balancing your alcohol intake while managing your weight is definitely possible. Good luck everyone!
Beer Drinking Benefits and Risks- mDhil
Alcohol:Balancing Risks and Benefits- The Harvard School of Public Health
8 Health Benefits of Drinking Wine- Christine Quinlan