Wine or your waistline? 3 Rules to follow


Let’s face it, sometimes there’s nothing better at the end of a long day than a glass of wine.

But sipping much more than that can wreak havoc with your shape, and not just by adding hundreds of calories to your diet. Alcohol temporarily keeps your body from burning fat, explains integrative medicine specialist Dr. Pamela M. Peeke, author of the book “The Hunger Fix.”

The reason is that your body can’t store calories from alcohol for later, the way it does with food calories. So when you drink, your metabolic system must stop what it’s doing (like, say, burning off calories from your last meal) to get rid of the booze.

What’s worse: “Research has uncovered that alcohol especially decreases fat burn in the belly,” Peeke adds. “That’s why you never hear about ‘beer hips’ — you hear about a ‘beer belly.'”

So can you ever enjoy a drink without putting on pounds? Absolutely, if you imbibe the right way.

Rule #1: Always eat when you drink

While the Harvard research suggests it’s wise to factor in those cocktail calories, it’s actually more important to eat right than to eat less, the experts stress. Skimping on food in order to “make room” for drinks will only backfire and send you straight to the bottom of the candied nut bowl.

The trick is to have an easy-to-follow strategy in place before you take that first sip. Scout out the bar or restaurant menu ahead of time and note your picks on your phone. Then set an alert to remind you to order wisely — that way you won’t have to think too much (or rely on that alcohol-impaired prefrontal cortex!) to stay on track.

As with your pre-partying meal, go for something with fiber, protein, and a little bit of healthy fat to help control blood-sugar levels and make you feel satisfied.

Rule #2: Know that some drinks make you hungrier

When it comes to waist-friendly cocktails, the simpler the drink, the better. Not only do the sweet-and-fancy ones tend to have more calories, but the additional sugar can make you even hungrier: Your blood sugar skyrockets higher than it does on beer, wine, or a shot of something, making the plummet (and the resulting cravings) worse.

And then there are the calories! Booze has 7 calories per gram, making it the second-most calorie-dense macronutrient.  (That’s just below pure fat, which has 9 calories per gram.) This means a measly 1.5-ounce jigger of vodka has almost 100 calories.

Mix that up with some club soda and lime, and it’s a reasonable tipple, but when you start tossing together a whole bunch of different liquors — whether it’s a hipster fizz made with bourbon, elderflower liqueur, and house-made bitters, or a dive-bar Long Island iced tea loaded with vodka, rum, tequila, and gin — it really adds up (to the tune of 300 calories, in the case of a Long Island).

Any wine or beer works, but to trim about 10 calories per glass, choose a rosé or white wine instead of a heavier red. A whole pint of a dark beer is around only 170 calories (compared with 195 for the same amount of regular beer) and may leave you feeling fuller than, say, Champagne, because it’s so starchy and rich.

Rule #3: Stick to a drink or two, tops

One drink a day is the widely accepted definition of moderate drinking for women, but there’s a misconception among some bar-hoppers that you can go without alcohol all week and save your seven drinks for the weekend.

That’s the worst thing you can possibly do for your weight (And, of course, for your health.) When you down three or four drinks in one night, your body has many hundreds of alcohol calories to process before it can continue to break down food calories or stored fat.

Plus, all those drinks throw your blood sugar even more out of whack so you’re hungry as heck — and because you’re tipsy, your prefrontal cortex is misfiring and you now have zero compunction about ordering the fried mozzarella sticks with a side of ranch (and keeping them all for yourself). The extra calories alone are enough to pile on the pounds; have four drinks every Saturday night and you’ll be up about 10 pounds in a year.

Ultra Liquors supports responsible drinking. Stay safe out there!

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