• Louise Appel

How to prevent weight gain from Christmas drinking. (Includes alcohol calorie chart)


It has been reported that on average, Britons drink 41% more alcohol in December than during other calendar months. As we move into the Christmas period most of us know that our social calendar will start to fill up, and with this our food and alcohol consumption is bound to increase, along with our waistlines. If you are concerned that you’ll waddle into January looking like you’ve been hanging out too long with Santa then read on to learn how you can prevent the post-Xmas bulge.

Sitting in the corner of the pub nursing a mineral water while everyone else is letting loose and having fun probably doesn’t appeal, and I'm not telling you to go teetotal. I’m just saying that if you over-indulge at Christmas you’ll more than likely put on weight and if this is something you want to avoid then you need to have a plan.

Why does alcohol cause weight gain?

Firstly you need to understand why boozing causes weight gain. As I’m sure you know drinking alcohol usually means taking in more calories in less time. However it isn't just the calories that make alcohol so fattening; when we have alcohol in our system fat-burning is inhibited and fat storage increases. Alcohol can also remove rational thinking, which usually means poor food choices, and to put the icing on the Christmas cake, drinking messes with our blood sugar so we end up craving sugary, carb-rich foods.

Calories in alcohol.

One area you can control is how many calories you are taking in when drinking alcohol. To help you make a better decision when it comes to your tipple of choice, I have given the calorie content of some popular alcoholic drinks. These results will vary depending on the brand and the strength of the drink, but usually a lower alcohol content of a given drink means fewer calories. Spirits can vary in size between pubs and single shots are either sold in 25ml or 35ml measures.

As you can see, the calorie content between many of the drinks are quite similar. However there are a few other things you can keep in mind to help your choice.

Other factors to consider.

- Spirits are are free of carbohydrates so can be a better option, however be careful when choosing a mixer as these can add a load of calories and sugar to your drink. As spirit measures are short be wary of how easily these can mount up throughout the evening.

- Beer, lager and Guinness may hold around the same amount of calories as a large glass of wine but they also have the highest level of carbohydrate than other drinks. Opting for lighter beers is always a better option.

- Red wine and sweeter white wines have a higher carb content so a dry white wine is a good choice; a spritzer is even better.

- Try to avoid cocktails and mulled wine, or keep these for very special occasions. When drinking cocktails, steer clear of those with a larger combination of ingredients, particularly creamy or sweet liqueurs as these can really bump up the calories.

How can you enjoy Xmas drinking without piling on the pounds?

As with everything that requires self-control, giving a bit of thought and planning ahead is one of the keys to success.

Here are 6 simple steps to follow to control alcohol and inevitable weight gain it brings!

1. Before the evening starts, decide how many drinks you are going to allow yourself and keep to this. Keep tabs on yourself throughout the evening or ask someone else to, and be aware how many alcoholic drinks you have had.

2. One of the worst things you can do is go out hungry or thirsty - you'll end up necking your drinks, munching on bar snacks and at the end of the evening you'll top things off by eating something really bad. Eat something that fills you up before you start drinking, even if it is just a snack. This will stop the tendency to mindlessly pick on high carb bar snacks. Food in your stomach will also help the rate at which alcohol hits the system, which affects all sensible thinking.

3. Find other reasons not to drink; not wanting to do something you might regret or showing yourself up in front of workmates or friends, saving money, remembering how hungover you felt last time you drank too much, even think about your liver!

4. I won't be the first person to have told you this but drink water alongside; it really does make a difference.

5. A free bar is there because whoever is hosting the party wants to treat their guests/employees. It's not there as an excuse for everyone to blindly drink as much as they can in as little time as possible. Use your brain and apply some self-control.

6. If you are in the habit of getting home and raiding the fridge, make sure you have something moderately healthy prepared to stop you devouring endless slices of toast before hitting the Ben and Jerrys!

The decision is yours

If this sounds like no fun and all too way sensible then by all means follow the sizeable crowd and drink yourself silly. Just don't be surprised if come the New Years Eve party, panic ensues as you desperately attempt to squeeze into your LBD.

With a little planning and preparation you can still enjoy a drink at Christmas without regretting it in the New Year.

Louise Appel, Personal Trainer

LLouise Appel Personal Trainer, St John's Wood & Personal Trainer Maida Vale offers customised, individual Personal Training and Pilates at Lords Cricket Ground, St John's Wood. Personal Trainer Harpenden & Personal Trainer St Albans is located at EsTR Fitness.

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