People are always asking me about drinking alcohol when you’re trying to lose weight. I love a good glass of red wine. It’s so fun to enjoy wine with my girlfriends, with my sisters and with my husband at dinnertime. Not only because it tastes good but it’s got phytonutrients and potent antioxidants like resveratrol, which are good for your heart.
However, when you’re first starting a new diet and exercise program, such as my 10 Week 360° Plan, you shouldn’t have alcohol in the first week and should stick closely to the food plans for each day. This helps you clean out your body and get on the right track. In week two, you can add a glass of wine once a week (maybe save it for the weekend, like I do), keeping in mind that a 5-ounce glass of wine has around 150 calories. In my plan, the daily calories are already figured out for you, so adding a glass of wine to that more often than once a week might slow down your weight loss success. If you are trying to stay within a certain calorie count for each day, you’ll need to forego your snack that day to save those calories for a glass of wine in the evening. But stick to only one drink, because drinking your calories away isn’t as filling or as nutritious as eating them, otherwise you’re sabotaging your weight loss plan.
I also find that drinking can interfere with my sleep, and it just isn’t worth it when you want to wake up and feel great, especially during the work week.
Also, alcohol tends to lower your inhibitions and stimulate your appetite—so if you drink before or during a meal, you may also find yourself eating too much or eating the wrong foods. Plus, alcohol is metabolized differently than other foods and beverages. And once you hit 40, drinking too much can cause belly fat and puffiness in your face.
When you do have that drink, however, it’s all about balance and moderation. I eat well 80% of the time and have my treats 20% of the time. My one glass of red wine would be my 20% treat. Of course, there’s no moderation if you have a family history of alcohol abuse or if you’re pregnant.
Here are a few quick rules of thumb:
- Always drink a glass of water before and after having a cocktail. This will keep you hydrated, slow you down and help to keep your tummy full.
- If you’re choosing a glass of red wine, reach for a Pinot Noir. It has less sugar.
- Consider having a white wine spritzer, which combines half chilled white wine with half plain sparkling water over ice. This will limit your sugar intake and help to keep you hydrated. Add a slice of lemon or lime for a splash of vitamin C and to make it extra refreshing!
- When you reach for a mixed drink, avoid sugary and fruity drinks such as daiquiris or cocktails with syrups. Opt instead for a gin and tonic or consider making a margarita using tequila, fresh-squeezed lime juice, and a little triple sec or agave instead of a sugary pre-made mix.