Q: My low-carbohydrate diet plan says no alcohol, especially during the initial period. What should I do?
A: R. Curtis Ellison, M.D., a professor of medicine and public health at Boston University School of Medicine and director of the school's Institute on Lifestyle and Health, answers:
Despite little scientific data supporting their effectiveness, low-carbohydrate diets for weight loss are very popular; recent reviews report that, overall, weight loss relates more to the reduction in calories than to the reduction in carbohydrates.
Some low-carb diet plans insist on no intake of alcohol, particularly at the beginning of the diet, due perhaps to the belief that alcohol calories are added to others. However, scientific studies suggest that alcohol often replaces calories from other foods, meaning that people eat less when they include alcohol in a meal.
And what about carbs in wine? You can see from the table below that the amount of carbohydrates in table wine is very small.
Coca-Cola, 1 can/bottle (12 ounces): 40.0
Diet Coke, 1 can/bottle (12 ounces): 0.3
Orange juice, 8 ounces: 25.0
Beer, regular, 1 can/bottle (12 ounces): 9.0—12.0
Beer, light, 1 can/bottle (12 ounces): 3.0—8.0
Spirits, 1.5-ounce jigger: 0.0—0.1
Red table wine, 4.5 ounces: 0.4—2.3
White table wine, 4.5 ounces: 0.8—1.0
Sweet dessert wine, 2 ounces: 7.0
In general, a glass of table wine each day will not adversely affect your weight loss, and may make the diet much more palatable.
This item was excerpted from Dr. Ellison's article "Wine and a Healthy Lifestyle," originally printed in the Oct. 15, 2004 issue of Wine Spectator magazine.
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