Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Do you have to avoid alcohol while on a diet?

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The nutritionist Ruth Ellenberger from the Nutrition Center Zurich provides information on how compatible a diet is with the consumption of alcohol.

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Nicholas GreinacherEditor Wine

Blick: Ms. Ellenberger, at the Nutrition Center in Zurich, you advise patients on diets. When will requests for diet advice increase?
Ruth Ellenberger: That would certainly be January after all the aperitifs and celebrations in December left one or the other kilo on the ground. Next before the bathing season, i.e. around March/April and finally right after the summer holidays, when one or the other pair of jeans suddenly no longer fits.

Is there a rule of thumb when dieting, for example for the number of calories?
After you have found out your individual calorie needs, you can save around 500 calories per day until you reach your target weight. A balanced diet is still very important. I have to be honest, I’m not a big diet fan. It is much better to optimize your diet in the long term and to incorporate a healthy amount of exercise into your everyday life. Then you will eventually reach your target weight on your own.

Does Alcohol Affect Fat Loss?
First of all, it must be said that alcohol and weight loss do not necessarily go hand in hand. However, there are proven disadvantages to consider when trying to lose weight. For example, the number of calories: One gram of alcohol has around seven calories. Extrapolated to a deciliter of dry wine with twelve percent alcohol, this results in between 70 and 90 calories. It is also important to know that alcohol stimulates the appetite.

Is it better to avoid alcohol at aperitifs during a diet?
Definitely! Especially since there are a variety of non-alcoholic alternatives.

Are there other disadvantages of alcohol on a diet?
Fat burning is controlled by the same organ as alcohol breakdown: the liver. When the liver is confronted with both breaking down alcohol and burning fat, it gives priority to breaking down alcohol because the body perceives alcohol as a poison. While the liver is busy breaking down alcohol, fat burning is disrupted. And this has a negative effect on a diet.

Should you therefore completely avoid alcohol when losing weight, including a glass of wine with your meal?
Not necessarily, as long as the upper calorie limit is still observed and you eat a balanced diet. I recommend building in three to four alcohol-free days a week during a diet, for example not drinking alcohol every other day. By the way, it is very important to drink enough water. Drinking too much water doesn’t break down alcohol faster, but drinking too little will take much longer to break down alcohol.

What do you actually think of Dry January, i.e. completely abstaining from alcohol during the month of January?
I actually think the idea is pretty good. Not because of a diet, but just to see if you can stand staying away from alcohol for a month. So more in terms of the addiction aspect and less against the background of a diet.

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