In her final update for Hairy Dieters, Professor Ashley Adamson discusses the calorie content in alcoholic drinks and offers some final words of wisdom.
How bad is alcohol in terms of calorie content?
We need to remember that alcohol has calories too! The general rule is that the stronger the alcohol by volume percentage found in lager, beer or wine, the greater number of calories that drink contains.
Small glass of white wine (175ml 11% ABV): 2 units, 130 calories = one small bag of crisps
Small glass of red wine (175ml 11% ABV): 2 units, 120 calories = one small slice of sponge cake
Pint of lager (4% ABV): 2 units, 170 calories = one small sausage roll
Stronger pint of lager (5% ABV): 3 units, 250 calories = one scotch egg
Pint of bitter (4% ABV): 3 units, 190 calories = one glazed ring doughnut
Pint of premium lager (5.5% or 6.5%): 3.5 units, 330-350 calories = 250g of pasta (2 servings)
Pint of cider (5%): 3 units, 200 calories = beans on toast
Cream liqueur (50ml, around 17% ABV): 1 unit, 160 calories = one chicken drumstick
Alcopop (330ml, around 5% ABV): 1 unit, 200 calories = 50g block of medium cheddar cheese
Spirits serving (25ml, such as vodka or gin 37.5% ABV): 1 unit, 55 calories = 25ml serving of single cream
What did you think of all the food that was produced at the finale?
The food was really good and it looked beautiful - really colourful and very tempting. It was good quality food, high taste and really appealing.
There were traditional dishes that we all like that were adapted to reduce the amount of fat and calories in them, and some new ideas. Everybody enjoyed the food.
The sweet and sour chicken was really spiced and clever; the herbs and spices enhanced the flavour, they used good quality ingredients and used the food and vegetables without the fat, but with lots of flavour. That’s no easy feat. The foods were innovative, enjoyable and everybody really tucked in.
Did you have a favourite?
The pies were clever, a real innovation. Using bread dough instead of pastry reduced the fat content. The taco shells looked beautiful as they were big and substantial - a meal but without the high fat and calories.
I did like the sweet and sour chicken; normally it’s really sickly as it has a lot of fat and sugar, but this tasted clean and it had all the flavour.
Where you inspired by the Big Eaters?
They were fantastic, what a crowd. Liz was absolutely inspirational - a young person who struggled with weight as a child, into her teens and adulthood, but she completely turned it around.
Overweight people can feel isolated, it’s very difficult. She completely changed the habits that had been embedded for almost 24 years, what an inspiration.
Any final hints and tips?
- When changing your diet in order to lose weight, look at what you eat and be honest.
- Determine which foods have the high calories; what needs to change?
- Set realistic goals both for your weight but also for the changes you will make in what you eat. Write these down and monitor yourself.
- Once you have achieved those goals, make some new ones. Make a plan and shop in advance so that the right food is available in the house.
- Have regular meals, eat breakfast, and don’t skip a meal. You will be more likely to slip if you are really hungry.
- Weigh yourself at least once a week and record your weight. If you can make a chart to plot your weight change or progress to your target weight, this should inspire you to continue.
- Get some help and support from your family and friends. Perhaps you and a friend could support each other and both lose weight like the Hairy Bikers, or join a group. We all need some support - losing is not easy.
- If you slip don’t give up; get back on track for the next meal!
- Increase your activity level; this doesn’t mean putting on lycra and going to the gym, just start by just walking more or going up the stairs instead of the lift!
- Once you have lost some weight – keep it off. Keep weighing yourself at least once a week and make changes if your weight starts to creep back up.
- Catch small slips; if you have a day where you go back to old habits make the next day better.
- Be more active; increasing physical activity is really important in helping to maintain weight loss.
And remember, if you have any health problems you should discuss your plans with your GP before you start.