ALCOHOL, IS IT JUST THE CALORIES YOU NEED TO WORRY ABOUT?

This month our good friend Ashleigh Feltham discusses alcohol. Ashleigh is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and an  Accredited Nutritionist who lives and works in Canberra. Ashleigh writes:

Are you one of the many Australians who enjoy a glass of wine or beer as one of their favourite pastimes? Enjoying a drink with mates can be seen as part of the Australian culture. You may be unaware that drinking above the recommended standard drinks a day, and each week may be harming your health.

A standard drink is 10g of alcohol. If you do choose to drink the maximum amount of alcohol recommended is 1.4 standard drinks a day or no more than 10 standard drinks a week. Sometimes we go to special events and drink over this, if this is only a single occasion and equals no more than 4 standard drinks this is considered ok but should not be a regular occurrence.

Risks to your health from drinking above the recommended limit go beyond being an unhealthy weight as its good to remember alcohol is not calorie free. Energy per gram of alcohol sits just under fat at 29kJ or 6.9 calories per gram compared to fat which has 37kJ or 8.8calories per gram. Having a beer gut is not just unattractive but also increases your risk of many lifestyle diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Having a lifestyle which you drink more than the recommended maximum of standard drinks per day and week also can increase you risk of these cancers:

  • breast
  • oesophageal
  • oropharyngeal
  • lung
  • gastric
  • laryngeal
  • hepatocellular
  • endometrial
  • pancreatic
  • colorectal

It is important to note here that all individuals are different and need to consider their whole health profile when and if you choose to drink. For example women who are pregnant are encouraged not to drink any alcohol and if you have high blood pressure limiting or not drinking alcohol is recommended.

Here are a list of drinks and the number of standard drinks they equal:

Beer

 

  • Full strength 4.8% alc. vol
  • 285 ml glass - 1.1 standard drinks
  • 375 ml bottle or can - 1.4 standard drinks
  • 425 ml glass - 1.6 standard drinks
  • 24 x 375 ml case - 34 standard drinks
  • Mid strength 3.5% alc. vol
  • 285 ml glass - 0.8 standard drinks
  • 375 ml bottle or can - 1 standard drink
  • 425 ml glass - 1.2 standard drinks
  • 24 x 375 ml case - 24 standard drinks
  • Low strength 2.7% alc. vol
  • 285 ml glass - 0.6 standard drinks
  • 375 ml bottle or can - 0.8 standard drinks
  • 425 ml glass - 0.9 standard drinks
  • 24 x 375 ml case - 19 standard drinks

 

Wine

  • Red wine 13% alc. vol
  • 100 ml standard serve - 1 standard drink
  • 150 ml average restaurant serving - 1.5 standard drinks
  • 750 ml bottle - 7.7 standard drinks
  • White wine 11.5% alc. vol
  • 100 ml standard serve - 0.9 standard drink
  • 150 ml average restaurant serving - 1.4 standard drinks
  • 750 ml bottle - 6.8 standard drinks

 

Champagne

  • Champagne 12% alc. vol
  • 150 ml average restaurant serving - 1.4 standard drinks
  • 750 ml bottle - 7.1 standard drinks

Port

  • Port 17.5% alc. vol
  • 60ml standard serve - 0.8 standard drinks

 

2 litre cask - 28 standard drinks

Take Home Message: If you choose to drink, drink to enjoy the occasion and aim not to become completely wasted. The taste should be enjoyed but just like a special treat like chocolate it is best enjoyed in moderation. Take the time to enjoy each sip and by savouring the moment and the flavour you may find it is easier to enjoy alcohol within the recommended limits.

 

References:

Health AGDo. Standard Drinks Guide Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia; 2017 [updated September 2010; cited 2017 13/3/2017]. Available from: http://www.alcohol.gov.au/internet/alcohol/publishing.nsf/Content/drinksguide-cnt.

 

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