Learn the truth about fat and alcohol

You don't need to swear off alcohol and fat entirely to live a healthy life. In fact, it may actually be beneficial to consume small amounts of both. We'll go over the science and help you make the right choices.

Learn the truth about fat and alcohol

Reconsider your alcohol consumption

  • Remember that a drink is defined as a regular bottle of beer (341 millilitres/12 ounces), small glass of wine (150 millilitres/5 ounces) or a single shot (45 millilitres/1 1/2 ounces) of distilled spirits, such as vodka.
  • In the right amounts, alcohol can benefit blood sugar. Moderate drinking (one drink for women or two drinks for men a few times a week) is associated with lower fasting insulin levels, higher levels of "good" HDL cholesterol, smaller waist circumference, and lower triglycerides. In other words, moderate drinking is associated with a lower risk of metabolic syndrome.
  • Moderate drinking also lowers the risk of developing diabetes by between 33 and 56 percent, according to a comprehensive review of more than 30 studies.
  • If you have diabetes, moderate drinking reduces your risk of developing heart disease by 34 to 55 percent.
  • Wine, especially red wine, may have extra benefits as well. It contains antioxidants that can help prevent insulin resistance. Wine is also acidic, so in theory it should reduce the blood sugar effect of the foods you eat.
  • Beer is fine too. Despite what you may have heard, even regular beer is fairly low in carbohydrates.
  • The main benefits come from the alcohol itself, but don't forget the moderation part. People who have three or more drinks a day have a much higher risk of diabetes and heart disease.
  • If you have diabetes, ask your doctor about drinking. Because alcohol lowers blood sugar, it could cause hypoglycemia.

Don't be too extreme when it comes to low-fat

You'd think that if you want to lose weight, you should cut way back on fat, which is high in calories. Pretty obvious, right? Surprisingly, recent research has shown that that's not necessarily true. A moderate-fat diet can be every bit as effective as a low-fat diet in helping you lose weight if you choose mostly beneficial fats. A bit of fat also makes meals more satisfying, which can make it easier to stick to a healthy eating plan over the long haul.

In one study of overweight men and women, those on a moderate-fat diet lost about 4 kilograms (9 pounds) over 18 months, while those on a low-fat diet actually wound up gaining more than 3 kilograms (6 pounds). One key reason was dieting fatigue: only 20 percent of those on the low-fat diet were still actively participating by the end of the study, while 54 percent of those on the moderate-fat diet were still at it.

If you're not the type who likes depriving yourself, rejoice! You really don't need to give up fat and alcohol to be healthy or lose weight. Just try to consume them intelligently and in moderation. You can still reach your goals.

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