How alcohol impacts your diet.
There’s no secret in that alcohol has a strange impact on us when consumed. But many don’t know how alcohol impacts our diet. Alcohol is the only thing you can get calories from besides macro-nutrients. One, one ounce shot of vodka has nearly 70 calories (~64 calories). Besides that, large consumption of alcohol starts to impact us in ways we don’t really understand, especially in the moment.
In this article, we are going to go over many different ways alcohol impacts our diet.
Table of Contents
Calories in alcohol
As we have mentioned in the beginning, alcohol is the only thing you can get calories from besides macro-nutrients. Yes, even alcohols such as vodka, rum, or whiskey.
But first, What are macro-nutrients?
Simply put, macro-nutrients are carbs, proteins, and fats. They are a major staple of your diet and are where we get energy from. We often use macro-nutrients to create diet plans and measure the impact of fluctuations between the 3 macros that make up macro-nutrients on our body. The term “macro’s” simply refers to carbs, proteins, and fats. Each macro has it’s own energy count. In other words, one gram of carbohydrates come with a certain amount of calories and same goes for the other two, protein and fat.
All carbs, are at some point, broken down into glucose in your body. Glucose is the main source of energy your body uses from day-to-day. Each carbohydrate gives your body 4 calories per gram of carbs.
Carbs also occupy other roles in the body that help with things like building protein and digestion. Fiber, for example, is a carbohydrate that cannot be broken down by your body so it doesn’t give you energy. But it does help with digestion.
There are many different types of carbs:
- Simple carbs. These are easy for your body to break down and usually have one to two sugars with them. It’s because of this that simple carbs usually come from sweeter foods like fruit, syrup, nectar, or honey.
- Complex carbs. These carbs are larger molecules that longer for your body to break down. Complex carbs usually are in more savory foods such as starches and grains.
Proteins help your body grow, build, and repair. Protein is made up of amino acids and gives your body 4 calories per gram of protein consumed. The amino acids that make up protein are typically divided into two groups:
- Essential amino acids – are required to be consumed through your diet. These are amino acids your body cannot make.
- Non-essential amino acids – are not required through your diet as your body can naturally produce non-essential amino acids.
Protein is typically consumed through eating animal products such as dairy, meat, eggs, or other sources of food coming from animals. However, you don’t have to eat animal products to get your protein.
Fat is actually a really important macro-nutrient. It allows you to store energy, fat soluble micro-nutrients (Vitamins & Minerals), they provide protection to organs, and they even play a role in hormone production. Fats contribute 9 calories per gram of fat consumed.
Fats are typically divided into three groups:
- Unsaturated fats – are fat molecules with double bonds and are know to be the “healthier” fat. The reason they are labelled as the healthier fat is because they have less hydrogen molecules then saturated fats and are less likely to put you at risk for heart disease.
- Saturated fats – these fat molecules, unlike unsaturated fats, have no double bonds due to a higher amount of hydrogen molecules. Saturated fats, unlike unsaturated fats, can put you at a greater risk for heart disease.
- Trans fat – In terms of “healthiness” trans fats are the most unhealthy option among the fat groups. Trans fats come from hydrogenated unsaturated fats and will put you at the greatest risk of heart disease.
Why are macro-nutrients important?
Macro-nutrients are important because they are how we get our energy. Maintaining a balanced diet means eating foods with different varieties of macro-nutrients. Where each macro is different is defined by the unique properties in each macro, namely, carbs, proteins, and fats.
Each macro serves a separate purpose in our body and support a wide variety of bodily functions.
How alcohol impacts your diet due to extra calories
Different alcoholic beverages will naturally give you calories just from the alcohol itself. That’s not considering if you are making any sort of mixed drinks. As we have mentioned before, one ounce of vodka gives you almost 70 calories. Besides the calories you get, alcohol alone doesn’t offer you any nutritional value.
The Potential for malnutrition when consumed in large amounts
When consumed in large amounts, you do put yourself at risk for malnutrition. The reason is because your body detects that it’s caloric needs have been met and communicates that to your body with endorphins. Because of this, your appetite decreases. This is dangerous because alcohol doesn’t provide any macro or micro nutrients you body needs.
This becomes important because if you are trying to stick to a specific diet, the effects of alcohol may make it more difficult to maintain that diet.
According to research done by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, those who drink an alcoholic beverage while eating meals higher in fat. What they found during their research was that besides supplying calories with no additional nutritional value, alcohol also can cause you to stray towards certain food groups you might not typically sway towards.
Besides this, alcohol, when consumed in larger quantities typically causes people to lower their inhibitions and eat unhealthy foods anyway.
Related content: How does alcohol affect your nutrition?
Alcohol is very high in calories. Specifically empty calories that provide nothing but energy to your body. Cutting back on consuming alcoholic beverages may help you reduce your overall calorie intake and replace those calories with sources that are more nutritionally wholesome. An occasional drink or two is okay but beyond that is where alcohol may start to impact your diet and nutrition negatively.
If you are struggling with your diet, there are plenty of personal trainers that can help you through nutrtion consulting. Not only will they help you find a diet that you love but they will also help you better understand nutrition and how to tailor your diet to better fit your needs.
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