Alcohol: How much is too much?

“With Christmas soon upon us and the swing of festive parties and celebrations underway, champagne corks will be a-popping and cocktail shakers to the ready. I, like many, really do love a glass or two, especially at times of celebration, but I’m so often asked for guidance about how much is too much?”

Amelia Freer,Registered Nutritional Therapist FdSc, Dip ION

Amelia further goes on to say that there has been a long-held belief amongst the medical community that a little bit of alcohol does us good. this comes from studies that seem to show that all causes of death (but particularly heart disease) are higher in people who completely abstained from alcohol, than was in people that drank moderately (a couple or so units a day). (Corraeo et al., 2004)

She does however, point out that alcohol consumption has been linked to a huge number of problems. It is after all, a psycho-active substance that can sadly lead to significant problems with addiction and dependency. It has also been linked to over 200 disease and injury conditions.

In a study of over 18,000 Spanish participants, it was found that the closer people drank to a traditional, moderate, Mediterranean pattern of mainly red wine consumption, the greater the association with reduced mortality (Gea et al., 2014). In other words, if you do choose to drink, the best way to do so is probably copy the culture of Mediterranean countries:

Drink moderately with meals, mainly red wine, spread out evenly over the week and very rarely in excess.

Perhaps that small sunset glass of wine on the terrace with supper is ok

Jonno Proudfoot and the team at the Real Meal Revolution, make the point that if we must drink, from a carb-intake perspective, it should be dry wines (lower sugar content), low-energy lite-beers, and clearer spirits such as gin and vodka.

The problem with lite beers is they don’t taste great so what’s the point? And the problem with spirits is they’re often only palatable with a sugar-riddled mixer.

So, depending on your preferences, they recommend a glass of half-decent wine with dinner or a whisky or pot still brandy – delicious with water, soda, ice or neat – as needed. For many, they are the best practical options. Just remember that you’re still consuming alcohol which is worse than any amount of nitrates in a sausage.

Avoid normal beer, alcopops, cocktails and spirit mixers – all of which will stop any weight loss dead in its tracks. (Beer is a minefield: you can drink a day’s allowance of carbs in one pint and it’s often far too tempting to have “just one more”. How many slim beer drinkers do you know?

In my experience, as we progress on our health journey we soon learn what our personal limits are, what our triggers are and how easy it is to overdo it.

Be mentally prepared when you’re going to a party. Put your own boundaries in place and stick to them.

Reference: Amelia Freer Alcohol: How much is too much?

Real Meal Revolution

Credit: Diet Doctor for alcohol carb content graphic


From Diet Doctor, carbohydrate grams per drink

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