Alcohol may add more calories than known to our diet

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Alcohol adds more calories to the daily diet than might be suspected, finds a CDC survey. When you factor in beer and wine consumption, the boost in calorie intake might be even more significant.

The message is important as the holidays approach. If you’re trying to diet, it’s important to consider findings that alcohol can add 100 or more calories a day that can thwart weight loss, exercise goals for weight maintenance and dieting.

According to results of a report that included survey data from adults over age 20 participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2007 to 2010, beer, wine, liquor, or mixed drinks added an average of 174 calories a day for men aged 20 to 29.

For men, the calories came mostly from drinking beer. For women, the average increase from drinking was found to be about 50 calories. Women with higher income had a tendency to drink more.

The study also found that 19% of men and 12% of women exceeded recommendations for moderate drinking – one per day for women and two for men.

According to the report and as a reference "…a 12-ounce can of regular soda contains 140 calories, which is slightly less than a same-sized can of regular beer. A five ounce glass of wine contains about 100 calories."

The study highlights the importance of factoring in calories from alcohol for anyone trying to watch their waistline. The surveys showed alcohol adds an average of 100 calories a day to the average American’s diet. If you want to lose one pound a week, you have to take in 500 fewer calories a day.

A past study shows alcohol and obesity are linked to the same regions of the brain, meaning alcohol consumption and overeating may share the same underlying mechanisms. 

One mile of brisk walking – 15 to 20 minutes – can help you burn 100 calories. If you have one alcohol drink a day, it would take 7 miles of walking each week to compensate for the added calories that come from alcohol, according to the CDC.