We’re drinking more than we think, and it’s having serious consequences on our health and finances, not to mention our waistlines.
Experts have warned that Brits are drinking as much as 40 per cent more than we think we are, and said that if we could cut down just a tad we’d save money and see huge benefits in health and weight loss.
The main problem seems to be for those of us who consider ourselves ‘moderate’ drinkers. We think we’re sticking to guidelines and just indulging in the odd glass of wine with dinner or after work. But actually, if we wrote down all the booze we consume over a week, we’d see a different story.
For a woman, the daily guideline is two to three units a day. That is but one small (175ml) glass of wine.
[Related: Dieters forget their alcohol calories]
In a study a group of volunteers we asked to estimate their weekly alcohol intake and then to keep a drink diary. The difference between what they believed themselves to be drinking and the actuality was on average 40 per cent – or a large glass of wine more a day.
This could be a big reason why many of our diets fail or stagnate. A large glass of wine has about the same number of calories as four cookies.
But unlike almost any other kind of calorie, alcohol does not provide any nutrition, with vitamins and mineral levels so low they don’t contribute anything to our health.
According to Drink Aware, drinking alcohol also reduces the amount of fat our body burns for energy because our body is so preoccupied getting rid of the alcohol (which we cannot store), that other processes, such as absorbing nutrients and burning fat, get neglected.
The research found that cutting down on our booze by a third could not only reduce our calorie intake by an average of 236 a day, it could also save us £33.35 a week, totalling a rather tidy sum of £1,730 a year.
Participants who did this also said their physical and emotional wellbeing improved.
The health implications of drinking too much are severe. It can lead to various types of cancer and increase your chance of suffering from heart disease (the biggest killer of women in the UK).
But though 80 per cent of people who drink more than the recommended amounts know the facts, they don’t realise that they drink enough to be considered at risk. More than half of these have no intention to cut down.
Tips to cut down include having alcohol-free days, buying smaller glasses and lower alcohol beverages and keeping a note of what you’re drinking. To check your alcohol calories and find out whether you’re drinking too much, check out drinkaware.co.uk.