“Beware the side effects of alcopops.” That’s the warning from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). It equates drinking so-called alcopops and weight gain. (Alcopops are really flavored malt beverages or malternatives. The group says that, in terms of calories, “putting away three on Friday night gives you the equivalent of a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder and a small order of fries.”
That’s highly deceptive at best. Three alcopops are much, much less fattening than a Quarter Pounder and a small order of fries. The same is true of three beers, glasses of wine or shots of liquor.
A Quarter Pounder with a small order of fries has 31 grams of fat. On the other hand, alcopops, beer, wine and spirits have zero grams of fat. No fat at all.
Counting carbs? A Quarter Pounder with a small order of fries has 64 grams. Alcopops have from 2 to 15 grams. Regular beer has 13.1 grams, a light beer has 4.6. A glass of wine has only 1.75. And a shot of spirits (liquor) has zero grams of carbohydrates.
But you can’t eat that burger and salty fries without drinking something. Even a small coke has 150 calories. That’s more than a regular beer. And the 40 grams of carbs in a small coke is three times that in the beer. Of course, substituting a low-carb alcopop, light beer, wine or liquor dramatically cuts both calories and carbs even more.
The lack of fat and the low carbohydrate content of alcoholic beverages is important. It may help explain why so much medical research finds their consumption not associated with weight gain. And some find slight weight loss, especially among women.
Drinking alcopops and weight gain shouldn’t be a concern. Can’t say that about cokes, orange juice, milk, and most other non-alcoholic beverages.
Nutritional data for Quarter Pounder and small order of fries from McDonald Restaurants. Nutritional information for regular beer, distilled spirits, red wine, and small coke obtained from U.S. Department of Agriculture. Information on alcopops from CSPI.