Fat Loss & Alcohol

The other weekend, my good friend Ross Alexander had his second professional boxing match. It was bound to be a big night. A special occassion calls for a special beverage, the classic French 75. A perfectly balanced mix of fresh lemon juice, sugar syrup and gin, toppped up with champagne and finished with a twist of lemon. The character of this cocktail really is unique and Slingsby comes in a really clean flavour — making it perfect to enjoy on a sunny weekend (round two anyone?) with a few nibbles while you’re firing up the barbecue.

Shot with my iPhone 6s. Edited in PS CS6 & PS LR 5.

The Classic French 75
Shot with my iPhone 6s. Edited in PS CS6 & PS LR 5.

Without getting too carried away, let’s tackle this topic once and for all. Fat loss and alcohol, do they mix or not? Because for years, alcohol (beer in particular) has been belly’s sworn enemy.

Depending on your choice of drink, those brewed liquid calories served at the bar could contain anywhere between 150 to 550 calories per pint (580 if you’re partial to a vintage cider). Which is why many nutritionists have traditionally insisted that alcohol and abs could never be friends. Thankfully, studies now show that’s not strictly true.

So before you give up your beloved barstool, say an emotional goodbye to your favourite barmaid and take a vow of abstinence, know that there is salvation. So sit back. Pour yourself a cold one and take a read of this science-backed article that will teach you how your beer and your belly can live in harmony once again.

But first thing first, let’s examine why beer became nutritionally blacklisted.

Why Does Beer Get Bad Press?

Beer contains between 2% to 12% alcohol. Considering alcohol comes a close second to dietary fat in terms of its calorie density — roughly 7 calories per gram — it’s not surprising the chubby finger of blame was pointed directly at beer for man’s expanding waistline.

But it gets worse for beer lovers. Way back in 1980, research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition declared that alcohol was a non-essential nutrient containing “empty calories”. Scientists claimed unlike carbohydrates, protein and fats, your body has no nutritional need for that beer, wine or solo Sambuca.

As a result, alcoholic drinks were vilified. Endless articles were printed which compare a glass of intoxicating liquor to several chocolate bars and as a result, alcohol suffered a slanderous PR campaign that it’s never quite recovered from.

Until now…

Slingsby: The Classic French 75
Shot with my iPhone 6s. Edited in PS CS6 & PS LR 5.

Slingsby: The Classic French 75
Shot with my iPhone 6s. Edited in PS CS6 & PS LR 5.

Whilst it’s still controversial whether this is socially accepted or not — know that I simply couldn’t care less — as you have probably guessed by now, I am not a huge beer fan. I will take a fresh G&T over a pint any day. But let’s carry on.

Think Beyond Calories

Firstly, know that beer (alcohol implied) comes in many forms. From a foreign fine wine to locally brewed ale, each one will have a completely different nutritional impact on the body that’s far more interesting than just counting the calorie content on the label. Let’s take red wine as an example. Scientists have long known it contains the health-boosting compound known as resveratrol. A natural polyphenol the grapes (used to make wine) produce when it feels under threat from fungus.

As a result, when you pour yourself a glass of the red stuff you’re also pouring yourself a glass of disease-fighting vitamins, minerals and micronutrients, which scientists from the University of Illinois in Chicago believe it has “anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective and antiviral properties.” All ailments associated with the aging process.

Take Caution On Cocktails

Another point that seems to have been ignored during the vilification of all alcoholic drinks is the role added ingredients have to play. To quote research from the Journal of American Medical Association, “several studies have found an association between sugar-sweetened beverages and incidence of obesity.” So maybe it stands to reason we study sweetened cider and sugar-ridden cocktails role in the birth of the beer belly? Not simply scorn the entire wine rack.

A distilled spirit like a pure, refreshing gin can’t be held responsible for expanding our waistlines as those brightly-coloured, heavily-sweetened cocktails that come decorated with fruit to disguise them as being healthy.

Fight Night
Shot by John Mortimore on his iPhone. Edited in PS CS6 & PS LR 5 by myself.

Fight Night
Shot by John Mortimore on his iPhone. Edited in PS CS6 & PS LR 5 by myself.

Don’t Underestimate Enjoying Your Food

Firstly, very little research has been done around adherence and moderate alcohol consumption.

Sir Robert Scott Caywood famously once said, “compromises are made for relationships, not wine”. Looking at research from the International Journal of Obesity, he may have had a point too. This is because very little research has been done around our simple enjoyment of a given diet. Not arguing over the calorie content of last week’s burger or whether we can have that dessert this week or not, but just effortlessly adhering to it.

In a huge meta study — a study of lots of studies — it was found there was no perfect diet. Instead, they concluded that “regardless of assigned diet, 12-month weight change was greater in the most adherent,” adding “these results suggest that strategies to increase adherence may deserve more emphasis than the specific diet.”

Basically if a glass of red wine with your Sunday Roast or beer on a Friday evening after work helps you stick to a diet, then it could be doing more good than harm. Don’t underestimate simply enjoying your food.

Video by Mellina Baboli. Here’s the highlight of the fight.

Fight Night
Shot by Simon Ackerman (club photographer). Edited in PS CS6 & PS LR 5 by myself.

In summary, the sole purpose of this article is to broadcast the lesser-known benefits of alcohol. To stop this mass vilification of all drinks. Finally, to present objective research that shows consuming certain alcoholic drinks in moderate amounts is actually ok. I must stress “moderate consumption” since it is obvious that excessive intake has (not surprisingly) been linked to a whole list of health issues and in no way is this article making light of any of them. But that’s another article and many lengthy studies altogether.

The above 900 words merely serves to show within the vast field of alcohol research, there could be hope for your waistline and gym membership if you use the contents of your local bar wisely.


No comments

Leave a reply