Alcohol: a dirty old dilemma.

We all love a beer don’t we, and as I have been known to say, “it’s ok to drink as long as you drink less than your doctor”.  But what does that really mean?

The silly season is over, new years resolutions are fresh in our minds – I bet you all have this burning desire to FINALLY get fit, healthy, and manage your weight.  But how does alcohol fit into that?

Firstly, lets look at what “safe drinking” really is.

Current Australian guidelines (produced by reliable/believable/trustworthy Australian medical bodies) state all adults should drink no more than TWO standard drinks on any given day to reduce the risk of long-term consequences of alcohol misuse.  Bloody hell!  Thats one and a third schooners, two small glasses of wine, or two shots of spirits.

How much are you drinking?

Additionally, the guidelines state no more than FOUR standard drinks on any one occasion to reduce the short term effects of alcohol.  Crikey, half a standard bottle of wine is about four standard drinks!!!

How often each week do you drink more than that?

Lastly, it’s widely recommended to have at least two alcohol free days a week.  Ever done that?

My maths is crap, but I want you to play around with a few numbers.  Lets say you drink 6 days a week, and realistically you have 4 standard drinks (Ladies: I know you share a bottle of wine with your partner…. And blokes, how many beers do you have beforehand?): that’s 24 standard drinks a week (give or take a few here and there, plus the Saturday night binge).  That’s well over TWICE the recommended 10 per week (5 days x 2 drinks).

Alright, so what?

My point is that the standard quiet evening for Aussie adults, involving just a handful of drinks, spread over a few hours, is considerably above the recommended safe levels for drinking.  Think about it.

How does this effect your new years resolution to get fit and lose 10kg?

Again, I point out my mathematical deficiencies, but I want to throw a few things your way.

The typical Aussie should have a daily energy intake of around 8500kj.  But if you’re a small adult it could even be as low as 6000kj, especially on a weight management plan.

A stubby of Dirty-old-Draught (Carlton Draught, heavy beer) is 450kj = 1.5 standard drinks
A standard drink of white wine is 330kj = 1 standard drink
A standard drink of red wine is 490kj = 1 standard drink

So, if you are drinking 14 standard drinks a week too many (see the amazingly accurate calculation above), you’d be consuming an extra amount of calories accross the week of 4200kj with beer, 4600kj with white wine, and a whopping 6860kj with red wine!  All up thats over half a days extra energy intake a week just in alcohol!  Straight to your hips team!

The reality is, you drink too much.  Don’t you.

The happy sociable amount you have each week, not even getting pissed, is well above the safe recommended levels, and provides a significant challenge for weight loss.

Think about it.  Drink less. Exercise more. Lose weight.

Dr Sam.

ps – Yes, I need to think about it too.