The blog ‘The Carb Syndrome Project” has an excellent post from Dr Bill Wilson all about alcohol consumption and health, especially for those trying to restrict carb intake. It covers the basics of what alcohol actually is, looks at when drinking it can become a problem, and asks if it makes you fat. The post is recommended reading for all (link below) and here are Dr Wilson’s concluding eight tips for alcohol consumption…
Dr. Wilson’s Rules for Alcohol Consumption
- If you have CARB syndrome, don’t consume any alcohol until your disease is under control. There is a lot of information on this site about how to manage this common disease.
- Probably the best form of alcohol to consume is dry, red wine. Red wine has very little sugar and it is also loaded with healthy anti-oxidants. In his latest book “Antifragile”, Nassim Nicholas Taleb states that the only beverages he drinks are water, coffee and red wine. I share his perspective.
- Don’t mix your distilled spirits with fructose containing juices or soda. The exception would be a little lemon juice tinged water.
- Limit you daily intake of alcohol to one drink for females and two drinks for males. Binge drinking is definitely not a good way to go. If you can’t control your alcohol intake, you probably shouldn’t drink any alcohol.
- Don’t drink any alcohol if you eat a diet loaded with sugar, HFCS and grain-based high glycemic carbohydrates, especially if you care about your liver. Clean up your diet before consuming any alcohol.
- Beer should be limited because as my fructose researcher friend Richard Johnson has shown, beer raises uric acid levels and uric acid drives up blood pressure and triggers central fat storage. That’s where the term “beer belly” comes from. For more information I recommend reading his excellent books “The Sugar Fix” and “The Fat Switch”.
- My Paleo friend Robb Wolf recommends what he calls a “Norcal Margarita”. It consists of two shots of tequila, a little soda water and the juice of a whole lime. I agree that this is relatively healthy and safe way to consume alcohol. For more tips on healthy eating and drinking, I recommend reading his book “The Paleo Solution” or Loren Cordain’s book “The Paleo Answer”.
- If you know that you may be drinking a little more alcohol than usual on a special occasion, I recommend taking N-acetyl cysteine 600 mg daily and thiamine 50 mg daily on the days you are consuming alcohol. These supplements will help to protect your liver and your brain.
Alcohol can be your friend or your worst enemy depending on how you integrate it into your life. Hopefully this article gives you a perspective on how to do so in a healthy way. Bottoms up!
December is here, and this means party season is upon us. This is probably the hardest month of the year to stick to your diet. Among many other temptations coming our way, it is certain that there will be plenty of drinking going on. So can you indulge and still stay on your low-carb diet? Here is more excellent advice and information from Low Carb Support (www.low-carb-support.com)…
The good news is, you can – as long as you exercise some basic caution.
Carb content of alcohol
Fermented drinks are derived from plants that are high in carbs – usually grapes or grains. However, during the fermentation process, most of the sugar is consumed by the yeasts in order to produce actual alcohol. Some sugar may be left over, depending on the type of beverage. Alcohol itself does not get processed as carb by your body, and will not cause a spike in your blood sugar.
Calories in alcohol
However, alcohol is quite high in calories (7 calories per gram), and these calories cannot be stored by your body in the way that excess calories from carbs or fat are. If you have a drink while eating or snacking (which is what usually tends to happen), your body will first process the calories from alcohol for energy, making it more likely that any excess calories from food will get stored as fat. This is why you would be unlikely to lose weight if you drink regularly.
Best drinks to have on a low-carb diet
Carb counts provided below are approximate, as there will be a lot of variance across the board depending on the brand.
- Red wine is high in antioxidants and very low in sugars. It contains 3-5g of carbs per 5oz glass. Beware of fortified dessert wines such as port – these are quite high in carbs.
- Dry white wines, including sparkling wines such as champagne are also a good choice, at 2-5g per 5oz glass. White wine contains fewer antioxidants than red wine.
- Pure spirits such as vodka, brandy and whiskey contain zero carbs. The best way to have them is straight (if you are feeling hardcore), or mixed with water or soda water. Be very cautious about other types of mixers – coke and juices are laden with sugar, whereas diet versions usually contain aspartame, which is not recommended on some diets.
Worst drinks to have on a low-carb diet
- Beer is basically liquid bread (this is very sad for me as I love beer). Carb content ranges from 12g to 30g per pint, depending on the brand.
- Liqueurs such as amaretto, sambuca, campari and any other sweet-tasting liqueur are very high in carbs. They are often used in cocktails but it’s best to avoid them altogether.