Booze and Weight Loss

How to find the balance for success


Losing weight is hard. What’s even harder is losing weight if you enjoy a good drink. Alcohol is the number one source of “empty calories,” that phrase which implies even though it’s not real food, you will gain weight from consuming it. This is especially troublesome for a professional drinker. And when I say “professional,” I don’t mean that I am merely skilled at doing it and do it often, but that I do it for a living.

For years, I was in denial about how much my consumption of alcohol, even just for work, was contributing to my increasing weight gain. This got even worse when I became more interested in cocktails, but still loyal to my first love, wine. What I didn’t realize is this is like having your cake, and then having more cake.

Photo courtesy Nemo's great uncle via Flickr/CC
I finally decided to do something once and for all last December. I’d seen a couple of friends who share aspects of my lifestyle successfully shed some pounds while still able to stay social and enjoy the good life. I could do this. I’d done it before, but back then I also didn’t drink like I was starring in a Thin Man movie.

I’ve lost thirty pounds and counting since I’ve started. Granted, this process has been slow. And subject to fluctuation. But overall, it’s worked and it will stay off now that I have some key information.

The main thing is to triumph quality over quantity. Cutting down portion size, moving around more. Gee, who knew? But it’s not that simple when faced with so many delicious choices, is it? You have to ask yourself again and again, like an inner voice from an After School Special, “Is it worth it?”

Here is what I’ve discovered about the various species of alcoholic drinks, what sort of maximum density they can contribute to, and how to drink them anyway. And please remember to hydrate with a glass of water between each drink, even if you just have one or two, and before bed.

If you’re going to drink, wine will do the least amount of damage, especially dry white or sparkling. But you have to start adding it up. Two glasses (because who drinks only one glass of wine?) is equivalent to a modest turkey sandwich on whole wheat with mustard (hold the mayo). Or a half-cup serving of ice cream. So think about what three will do. And four. Is it worth it? If you are opening a bottle you’ve been saving or really wanting to try, or are participating in a special wine dinner, or gathering with dear friends, or an informative trade tasting, or because it just seems like a good time to reward yourself, then yes it is. Otherwise, after those two glasses, put a cork in it. But if you do indulge, find a way to balance it out over the next couple of days with more exercise and less decadent intake.

One 12 oz. beer is like having a glass and a half of wine, damage-wise. So there’s your mind map for brew. And the reason why Norm on Cheers is so much fatter than Frasier.

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  • Snooth User: courgette
    124481 158

    Right on in every respect! I'll add one suggestion, which works when you're at home: smaller cocktail glasses. Recalling THE THIN MAN, one can see that their martinis are consumed from glasses we'd now call teeny-weeny. That's how they were able to drink 9 or 10 of them and only be horribly hungover in the morning, rather than literally DEAD, as you'd be these days if you drank (and kept down) 10 of the 6 oz variety I've been served at any number of bars.

    Those enormous glasses are pretty in their way, but BAD for anyone who doesn't want to gain weight (or get a DUI; or kill somebody on the way home).

    I regularly scope out thrift stores, Goodwill, eBay etc., and have a really fun collection of 30s-60s cocktail glasses, none of which would hold the kind of bathtub-sized drink I'm served in a bar.

    If my husband and I want a cocktail, I might decide to make a "single" serving of the Aviation, i.e. 2 oz gin, or maybe 3oz, plus the lemon and maraschino/violette, and serve it in two of those smaller glasses. Bingo-- two cocktails which are plenty of fun, but don't look like you're depriving yourself of anything (other than calories and a hangover)!

    Jan 03, 2012 at 3:07 PM

  • Snooth User: Amanda Schuster
    Hand of Snooth
    870341 1,996

    Oh what a great suggestion! And you are absolutely right about the Thin Man. Was just watching those movies again over the holidays and noticed how small the glasses are too. Nick seemed to be done with his cocktail in just a couple of sips. I should look out for some of those glasses. Cheers!

    Jan 03, 2012 at 3:13 PM

  • Snooth User: Meander61
    386168 1

    You can't go wrong using The Thin Man as your drinking guide.

    Jan 12, 2012 at 2:40 PM

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