Uh Oh, I’m on a Weight Loss Plan and the Holidays are Here

Christmas beer

Uh Oh, I’m on a Weight Loss Plan and the Holidays are Here

The holiday season is upon us. If you are trying to lose weight, as many of my clients are, it can be a challenge to enjoy the holidays and know how to account for liquid calories. Here are a few tips to help you make an action plan that works for you. 

It may sound old-fashioned, but calories really do count.
•    Choose a light beer (4% alcohol) over a regular beer (5% alcohol) which saves you 50 calories (or 100 calories if you consume 2).  
•    Be mindful, however, to not let light beer give you permission to have a third and fourth. 
•    Drink water as well as alcohol.  Follow the one for one guideline and take turns between water and beer.  Alcohol will dehydrate you so it is wise to rehydrate with water in between.  
•    Practice caution on other liquid drinks such as eggnog or punch.

As I said in my last post, my rule of thumb is to follow the 80/20 rule. Make wise, healthy, productive choices 80 percent of the time and keep the remaining 20 percent for your own choices. You will make more headway in the weight loss game if your 20 percent is fairly smart and your success will go a longer way if you don’t feel so restricted to be perfect all the time.

Keep in mind, alcohol is 7 calories per gram vs. fat which is 9 calories per gram. So, when choosing 20 percent of your choices, it’s interesting to note a regular beer is 155 calories, a 1 cup serving of vanilla ice cream (which is not a lot) is 260 calories and a 1 oz chocolate chip cookie (only one) is 260 calories. This does not mean beer is better than sweets, but rather to be aware of the source of your calories when your goals include weight loss.

So, does this mean you can consume a beer or two daily? 

Not really. If your 20 percent is ONLY beer and you are on top of your game in your food choices/ variety/ portion sizes as well as water intake then you could consider having 2 beers once per week if the social setting presents itself. 

Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines recommend no more than 10 drinks a week for women, with no more than 2 drinks a day most days. No more than 15 drinks a week for men, with no more than 3 drinks a day most days.  

These guidelines are established for the population as a whole (not the individual) and do not include stipulations for those who are trying to lose weight.  

In most cases, these recommendations will surpass your 20 percent (allocated under the 80/20 rule) if your goal is weight loss. Try cutting these recommendations by half, try it for one month and track your progress weekly.

It’s all about choices.

Life is meant to be enjoyed. You can (and should) enjoy yourself over the holidays. It is possible to follow the 80/20 rule and have alcohol be a part of your 20 percent. If you want extra support to help stick to your weight loss goals, set up a schedule or meal plan or have it done for you by a professional. Don’t be shy to check in with your health professional (or have a heart to heart with yourself) regularly for weight loss progress.  

Kerri Sherk is a registered dietitian and yoga teacher at The Fitness Firm, Burlington, Ontario’s fitness club. Her main expertise is weight management.