By Kelly Turner for DietsInReview.com
St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday this year…so, with no worries of heading into work the next morning while little leprechauns jack-hammer in your head, you can really get into the holiday spirit. Nothing says cheers to St. Patty’s Day like knocking back a few brews at your favorite Irish pub. But nothing can derail your weight loss efforts faster than alcohol.
Many people have the misconception that the darker or heavier the beer, the higher it is in carbs and calories. Not so. Some of your classic Irish beers contain no more calories or carbohydrates than your mainstream domestics–so drink up, but drink wisely, because no alcohol is a freebie. Let’s compare three popular Irish beers:
Guinness Stout – Calories: 170 per pint, 5.7 g carbs
Guinness Stout is very dark, almost black, with more carbonation than Guinness Draught. Guinness is the lowest in carbs, so you don’t have to feel bad about that slice of soda bread you snuck off your friend’s plate. To burn off one pint, however, plan on hitting the elliptical for an extra 17 minutes*.
Killian’s Irish Red – Calories: 163 per 12 oz., 14.4 g carbs
Killian’s has a chocolatey, toffee flavor that makes it almost a treat to drink. Can’t get enough Killian’s? You better make friends with your stair stepper. To burn off each bottle, you’ll have to climb stairs for 25 minutes.
Harp Lager – Calories: 189 calories per pint
Harp Lager is a pale golden yellow with a very mild taste and subtle sweetness. Harp is a relatively light beer, so go ahead and order those bangers and mash, but be prepared to spend 20 minutes running on the treadmill for every pint you down.
If you are looking for a guilt-free beer to celebrate St. Patty’s, go for a low calorie beer like Miller 64, dyed green. With any luck (of the Irish, ha!) you can enjoy your St. Patty’s Day without feeling a pinch in your waistband.
*calories burned are calculated for 150 pound woman
More from Diets in Review:
- Slideshow: Calories in Your Favorite Alcoholic Drinks
- Why You Should Cook with Clover for St. Patrick’s Day
The idea that alcohol may be good for your heart has been around for a while. (But while moderate drinking may offer health benefits, drinking more can cause a host of health problems.) Here’s what you need to know…
Research on Alcohol and Heart Disease
As research on this topic has continued to expand, researchers recently conducted another systematic review of 63 studies that examined adults without known cardiovascular disease before and after alcohol use. This latest meta-analysis was published in a 2011 issue of the British Medical Journal.
The analysis of these numerous studies suggests that moderate alcohol consumption (defined below) helps to protect against heart disease by:
- Raising HDL “good” cholesterol
- Increasing apolipoprotein A1, a protein that has a specific role in lipid (fat) metabolism and is a major component of HDL “good” cholesterol
- Decreasing fibrinogen, a soluble plasma glycoprotein that is a part of blood clot formation
- Lowering blood pressure
- Reducing plaque accumulation in the arteries
- Decreasing the clumping of platelets and the formation of blood clots
However, these studies did not show any relationship between moderate alcohol intake and total cholesterol level or LDL “bad” cholesterol. And while some studies associated alcohol intake to increased triglycerides, the most recent analysis of moderate alcohol intake in healthy adults showed no such relationship.
What’s the Definition of “Moderate” Alcohol Consumption?
A moderate alcohol intake is defined as up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. One drink contains 0.6 fluid ounces of alcohol and is defined as:
- 12 fl. oz. of regular beer (5% alcohol)
- 4-5 fl. oz. of wine (12% alcohol)
- 1.5 fl. oz. of 80-proof distilled spirits (40% alcohol)
- 1 fl. oz. of 100-proof distilled spirits (50% alcohol)
Are Certain Types of Alcohol Better Than Others?
While a few research studies suggest that wine maybe more beneficial than beer or sprits in the prevention of heart disease, most studies do not support an association between type of alcoholic beverage and the prevention of heart disease. At present time, drinking wine for its antioxidant content to prevent heart disease is an unproven strategy. It still remains unclear whether red wine offers any heart-protecting advantage over white wine or other types of alcoholic beverages.
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