Posted on May 7, 2018 by in 100 Days of Fitness, Blogs

    100 Days of Fitness – End of Challenge


    by Lauren Squier, MPH, RD

    Moderation is the Key!

    Although attitudes about drinking vary from culture to culture, nearly every civilization throughout history has discovered how to make beer, wine and spirits.[1] We’ve embraced social drinking as a part of meals, celebrations and traditions. While alcohol may have a positive impact on festivities and even health at times, it also has drawbacks, especially when consumed in excess.


    Moderate alcohol intake is associated with a lower risk of developing heart disease and stroke. Small changes in blood chemistry, such as increasing “good cholesterol” (HDL) and preventing clot formation, appear to act in a protective manner. In addition, a recent meta-analysis showed having four to seven drinks per week was associated with a 30% risk reduction for type 2 diabetes.[2] However, heavy drinking increases health problems.


    Moderate alcohol consumption is considered one drink for women and two drinks for men per day. “One drink” equals a 12 ounce beer, 5 ounce glass of wine, or 1 ½ ounces of hard alcohol. While red wine gets the most attention and praise for containing the powerful antioxidant resveratrol, studies show benefits from moderate amounts of most types of alcohol. (Why the unfair gender difference? Men make more of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase which helps break down alcohol in the body.)

    Calorie Comparison of Common Alcoholic Beverages

    Beverages Amount (ounces) Calories
    Beer – light** 12 100
    Beer** 12 150
    Wine – white* 5 105-123
    Wine – red* 5 121-129
    Vodka, Tequila, Gin, Whiskey

    (80 proof)***





    Vodka, Tequila, Gin, Whiskey

    (100 proof)***





    * www.webmd.com/diet/features/how-many-calories-in-wine

    ** www.today.com/health/beer-wine-liquor-are-they-making-you-fat-I142416

    *** www.livestrong.com/article/32276-types-hard-alcohol-sugars-carbs/


    “Better choices” for Boot Campers may include:

    light beer, white wine spritzer, or hard alcohol with soda water and a lime.

    Avoid sugar-sweetened mixers. And remember, enjoying alcohol reduces inhibitions, so be aware of late night munchies adding to “the cost” of drinking!

    Binge Drinking

    Drinking excessively during a short period of time is considered binge drinking. Specifically, it is defined for women as four or more drinks and for men as five or more drinks within two hours. Because the body cannot process the alcohol fast enough, binge drinking has toxic effects.

    When to Avoid

    Risks outweigh benefits when you are:

    • pregnant or trying to become pregnant
    • diagnosed with alcoholism or have a family history
    • experiencing heart trouble or liver disease
    • taking prescriptions or over the counter medications that interact with alcohol

    Want More info? 

    Alcohol Metabolism

    When alcohol is consumed, it is absorbed by the small intestines within about 10 minutes. Then the liver is responsible for breaking it down. Within an hour, the liver is able to process about 7-14 grams of alcohol, which equates to 8-12 ounces of beer.[3] Alcohol reduces the body’s ability to digest and absorb certain nutrients. In addition, key nutrients are used for its breakdown. Nutrients deficiencies are often a result of heavy alcohol consumption. Vitamins A, B1 (Thiamin), B9 (folate), B12, D, and E are most likely to be impacted.

    Alcohol & Bone Health

    Research shows that regular alcohol use has harmful effects on bone health. It reduces the absorption of calcium and vitamin D. Alcohol also impacts the liver, which alters vitamin D to its active form. Chronic alcohol use leads to a leaching of calcium from the bones which increases bone frailty. Lastly, regular alcohol use appears to kill osteoblasts, the cells in the body that build up bones.

    Lauren Squier, MPH, RD

    [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drinking_culture#Social_drinking

    [2] Diabetes Care 2005 Mar; 28(3): 719-725. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/28/3/719

    [3] www.medicinenet.com/alcohol_and_nutrition/article.htm#how_is_alcohol_metabolized

    Questions about any of the above? Need more guidance? Email the expert! Lauren welcomes questions and is always happy to share more tips and tricks with anyone who asks so… ask away!

    Lauren Squier, MPH, RD

    Lauren Squier, MPH, RD, is a Registered Dietitian, trained chef and owner of Culinary Enlightenment. Lauren’s nutrition background and culinary skills provide a unique blend of resources to help people plan meals, shop, cook, and eat better. For more than a decade, she has been teaching nutrition to children, adults and families through healthy cooking and eating.

    Read more about Lauren here. Check her website for more articles & recipes and come to bootcamp and talk to her in person about your nutrition challenges. She has a lot of knowledge and is always ready to share it.

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