Drinking Alcohol Reduces Weight Gain

Alcohol reduces weight gain among women. (Sorry, guys.) Women who consume one or two alcoholic drinks daily gain less weight during mid-life. That’s in comparison with alcohol abstainers. Medical researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston published their findings in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The Study

Investigators examined if alcohol reduces weight gain among women. Doctors have widely reported that it does. To do so, investigators studied over 19,000 women aged 38.9 years or older. The womens’ weight was initially in the normal range. The study recorded information about the diets and lifestyles of the women for nearly 13 years.

The doctors adjusted for age, baseline weight, smoking, non-alcohol energy intake, physical activity level, and other dietary and lifestyle factors. Women who consumed one or two drinks daily were at least 30% less likely to gain weight over the period of the study.

These findings held among subgroups of women based on age, smoking, level of physical activity, and initial weight.

There was an inverse relationship between amount of alcohol consumed and weight. That is, the more alcohol women drank, the lower was their weight.

Findings are Consistent

These research findings are consistent with those of other investigations.

The authors note that women had a substantial increase in energy expenditure after drinking. This suggests that women might experience a net loss of calories after drinking alcohol. This may account for the fact that drinkers were much less likely to gain weight. However, researchers don’t know for sure why drinking alcohol reduces weight gain among women.

Alcohol Promotes Health

The moderate consumption of alcohol is also associated with better health and longer life. That’s in comparison with either abstaining from alcohol or abusing it. Furthermore, this applies equally to wine, spirits (liquor), and beer.

Standard drinks of beer, wine, and spirits contain the same amount of pure alcohol. To be specific, it’s 0.06 of an ounce. In addition, they have equivalent health and longevity benefits.

Standard Drinks

A standard drink refers to a

  • 12-ounce bottle or can of regular beer
  • five-ounce glass of dinner wine
  • shot of liquor or spirits (either straight or in a mixed drink),

They’re all the same to a breathalyzer as well as to both good health and long life.

Healthful Content of Beverages

The following list presents the calories, carbs and fat found in standard servings of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Beverage Calories Carbs (grams) Fat (grams)
Beer (regular) 146 13.13 0.000
Beer (lite) 99 4.60 0.000
All Distilled Spirits (rum, vodka, whiskey, gin, tequila, bourbon, etc.) 97 0.00 0.000
Wine (red) 125 3.5 0.000
Wine (white) 120 3.5 0.000
Apple juice (unsweetened) 117 28.96 0.273
Apricot juice 140 36.11 0.226
Carbonated cola 155 39.77 0.000
Grape juice (unsweetened) 155 37.84 0.202
Grapefruit juice (unsweetened) 94 22.13 0.247
Lemonade 131 34.05 0.149
Milk (2% fat) 122 11.41 4.807
Orange juice (unsweetened) 112 26.84 0.149
Prune juice 182 44.67 0.077
Tangerine juice (unsweetened) 125 29.88 0.098
Tomato juice 41 10.30 0.122
Source: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nutrient Data Laboratory. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 16-1. Available at www.nal.usda.gov/.

Clearly, most alcohol beverages contain fewer calories than most non-alcohol beverages. Nevertheless, some people are still concerned about gaining weight from drinking them. However, alcohol contains no fat and is very low in carbohydrates. Additionally, it appears that the “effective” calories in alcohol are substantially lower than the numbers listed.

The bottom line is simple. Women who have one or two drinks of alcohol gain much less weight than do alcohol abstainers.

Resources on Alcohol Reduces Weight Gain

Medical Articles: Alcohol Reduces Weight Gain
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