"How do you like a glass of wine?"
“Oh no! I steer clear of wine and beer because I know the sugar will make me put on weight”.
Mmm… Really? That is indeed the common belief around alcohol and its sugar content but I am afraid it is not 100% accurate. At least according to my personal experience.
Although I have never been a heavy drinker, I used to enjoy a couple of glasses of red wine on occasions, and for sure I would never say no to bubbles. You know how we Italians love our aperitivo time.
In 2016 I moved for a year to a country where alcohol was not legal and not accessible, even to expats.
How much weight did I lose during a whole year with no wine nor beer? None.
So my conclusion is that: no, those types of alcoholic drinks were not impacting on my weight.
Then why has it become a common belief that booze make you put on weight?
Alcohol carries indeed a lot of calories with it but not as much sugar as you would think.
I don’t think my body is much different from the average. I suspect that the statement above might be more true for cocktails, where syrups and other mixers, sodas or juice concentrates are added. Take a Piña Colada, for instance, usually served in a 150 ml glass: it’s 31.5 g of sugar. Although most of the sugar in it doesn’t come from the rum, while instead from the pineapple juice.
Yes, you read it right, the pineapple juice.
So called hard/dry alcohols like rum, gin, vodka, whiskey on their own have little sugar that is actually transformed during the fermentation process.
I am not suggesting you should drink alcohol with no control, of course. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to embarrassing (although maybe epic) stunts you don’t want to be remembered for. Or it can make you loosen your grip and get too relaxed around food and before you know it you have not only drunk too much but also eaten too much. Overall, overdrinking is never a good idea for your health.
The main reason why I am addressing this topic is to answer one of the questions we are most frequently asked by Sugarlibre Pioneers – “Do I have to give up alcohol?” – and also to introduce you to a perception of sugar intake you might not have taken into consideration before.
It’s great when you decide not to eat sugar. But our nutritionist Dr. Sara Garduño Diaz pointed out: “What about the sugar you drink? Are you aware of the amount of it that is in your drinks?”
Let’s try and stage a hypothetical typical day of an ordinary You living in a urban contest.
You skip dessert, you’ve got this, you are in control.
Mid afternoon, that drop of energy kicks in. How about another coffee with maybe 1 teaspoon of sugar.
→ 4 g of sugar
Let’s do the math: 17+17+30+4+35+25. It makes 128.
128 grams of sugar in your ordinary day, equalling to about 32 teaspoons.
What? I can see your eyes popping out.
Now, the daily consumption limit as advised by AHA is 9 teaspoons for men and 6 teaspoons for women (which I personally consider realistic but too high).
Ok, maybe you don’t go out every night and maybe you don’t put sugar in your coffee, but don’t forget the above calculation only takes drinks into consideration while added sugar is present in a lot of solid processed foods, even where you least expect it.
Am I writing this to scare you?
Not at all. I only want to encourage you to revise and rethink your drinking patterns.
Sugary drinks are in a way more dangerous than chewable food as they go down more quickly. Try passing me a drink with a straw and watch me as I magically make it disappear in a matter of seconds (the drink, not the straw).
Fruit juices are not safer than sodas in terms of sugar content. Apple juice and coke are practically the same. It takes at least 3 to 4 apples to squeeze out 200ml of juice. What would it take you to drink that apple juice? You’d probably reach for a second glass… it’s so good! But, hey, would you be able to eat those 3-4 apples one after the other?
Fruit is an essential part of our diet.
Fruit is an essential part of our diet. But it’s wiser to go for whole fruit, not liquid fruit. And do not even get me started on the highly processed fruit juices out there where the closest thing to a plant is the picture on the carton. Lol.
After what we have just said, you probably feel you are bound to a future of dehydration, uh.
It’s not that drastic. Let’s see what you could do to limit the sugar hangover:
– how about swapping a sugary drink with water during the day?
– maybe have a veggie juice instead of the fruit one.
– how about drinking coconut water instead of an energy drink after the gym?
– why don’t you go for a beer instead of a cocktail when you are out with friends (yes, you gotta get out and have a proper social life!).
I mean, the options are there. We have only recently started to use processed sugar massively. It’s not like it’s ingrained in our DNA already, we can still go back to do without.
I think we absolutely can.