The quick answer is, it is possible to gain weight from drinking alcoholic beverages, but that may not be the inevitable fate for everyone who enjoys a drink.
Alcohol and Hong Kong are almost synonymous. This of course depends on where you are in the city, but you would be hard pressed to find a Hongkonger who didn’t know of at least one drinking hotspot.
But with this lifestyle constantly around us, and even driving a majority of our weekend plans, we might want to sometimes take stock and consider the effect drinking alcohol can have on our bodies and health.
Binge drinking is discouraged by all medical bodies in the world, but what about the occasional wind down wine, or the first beer on Friday night at a party? Is there a risk to our waistlines, or even beyond, if we continue to consume as much alcohol as we seem to love doing?
The risk of gaining weight from consuming alcohol depends on several personal factors, such as how often and how much you drink, what you drink, and perhaps of equal importance, what you eat when you have been drinking.
Other factors that will change the outcome of alcohol’s effects on your body will be your own diet, level of physical activity and exercise, age and even genetics and gender.
What are Empty Calories?
You may have heard the term “empty calories” when people talk about alcoholic drinks. It means the food or drink contains calories but very little nutritional value, meaning your body is filled mostly with solid fats and added sugars, which can lead to weight gain.
It is unclear whether alcohol consumption is a direct risk factor for weight gain. However, it does lead to higher levels of perceived hunger and diminishes the feeling of being full. In other words, the more alcohol you consume, the more likely you are to make unhealthy decisions on what to eat.
Are some alcohols worse than others?
There’s about 155 calories in 1 can of beer, and 125 calories in 1 glass of red wine. Drinks that have mixers, such as fruit juice or soda, contain even more calories.
Drinking alcohol does however have serious health risks beyond the possibility of gaining weight, and is linked to - high blood pressure, high triglycerides, insulin resistance, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and some cancers. On the other hand, there have been studies showing that red wine may lower your risk for heart disease, and even positive clinical associations with consumption of red wine and cardiovascular disease.
While a moderate intake of red wine may be potentially beneficial, anyone looking at their diet with the intention to lose some weight may want to skip a glass or two on their next night out.