Switching to the good stuff
June 22, 2011 3:53 PM   Subscribe

Should I quit beer and switch entirely to whiskey? For health reasons?

I'm trying to lose weight but still consider "getting my buzz on" to be essential. Previously I found the pleasures of beer to be non-negotiable, but now I've come to appreciate the charms and nuances of high-quality whiskey.

Looking things up, 1 shot of whiskey = 69 calories, while 1 bottle of Bell's Two Hearted Ale = 202 calories. If I'm assuming 10 drinks a week (pretty standard for me), then that would be 690 calories vs. 2020 calories, a deficit of 1330 calories per week. That's the equivalent of three 40-minute elliptical sessions, and more effective than any diet I could follow.

Also, thoughtfully sipping on a nice single-malt doesn't seem like it would encourage the kind of obsessive guzzling that happens when I get into a beer groove, so I might end up drinking less, all things considered.

So it seems like this change would be a major key to weight loss. Maybe even the only change I would have to make. Is my logic flawed?
posted by naju to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Just saw this today - getdrunknotfat.com/
posted by noahv at 4:00 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just for clarification -- have you measured the size of the "shot" that you drink with whiskey? Whenever I eyeball a shot, it is almost always a double shot at minimum. This would affect your caloric intake considerably.
posted by Think_Long at 4:03 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Strictly going by the numbers, yes, sipping that whiskey is better.

However, when I tried this, it ended up leading to serious levels of overindulgence on my part. Know yourself and your drinking patterns and you may be able to pull it off better than I could. I still loves me some whiskey, but it doesn't suit my drinking habits.
posted by lekvar at 4:05 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Make sure to compare apples to apples because currently you are not. A one ounce shot of whiskey is might be 69 calories, but the amount of 80 proof whiskey to equal the alcohol in one 12oz Bell's Two-Hearted Ale (7.0%ABV) is 2.1 ounces, or 145 calories. Your ten drink deficit drops to 570 calories per week if you consume the same amount of actual alcohol.

Still, 570 calories/week isn't anything to sneeze at. It's over 10 pounds/year.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 4:05 PM on June 22, 2011

Best answer: No. I switched to spirits when I was dieting and it made a huge difference, in terms of weight loss and generally feeling bloated and sluggish. It's not the only change you have to make though, far from it. You need a well thought out diet.

The hardest part is getting out of the gulping habit associated with beer. You might have an easier time adding a mixer to the whisky and using a straw to pace yourself.
posted by fire&wings at 4:10 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've been doing a made-up low-carb thing since the beginning of the year, and beer has pretty much vanished from my intake, barring special occasions (like when I went to Seattle for the Washington State Cask Fest). When I drink, I drink hard liquor - I already had a love for the smokey single malts, and I'm developing a taste for bourbons and ryes (rum is next!).

Beer facilitates potato chips and french fries and other empty calorie foods in a way that hard liquor doesn't (for me). Beer isn't the only carb that I've cut back on or nixed, but it was a not-inconsiderable part of my diet, and I've lost a bunch of weight. So, yeah, do it.
posted by rtha at 4:12 PM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

fire&wings is right about the mixer. Scotch and soda has become a staple for me.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 4:17 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

My roommate did this, among other things, and lost a lot of weight and is very happy. At first he got drunk way too fast (in his opinion) but adjusted.
posted by oreofuchi at 4:32 PM on June 22, 2011

I recently read an article that I cannot find that said alcohol leads to weight gain mostly because of what you eat after you start drinking. When your liver processes alcohol, acetate levels increase in your blood stream, and so your body doesn't need to fully metabolize food you eat into ready-to-burn energy, instead storing it. I'll try to search more for the article and post it...
posted by spiderskull at 4:40 PM on June 22, 2011

Best answer: Here's a similar article to the one I was referring, and I was wrong. Acetate actually inhibits fat burning.
posted by spiderskull at 4:42 PM on June 22, 2011

Response by poster: If I'm reading that article correctly, the calories from the alcohol itself largely don't count towards weight gain or loss?
posted by naju at 5:06 PM on June 22, 2011

Yeah, but could you really never drink beer again? Because in order to reliably get that caloric difference, that's what it would take.

I'm not you, but I'd rather be fat and drink 10 beers a week than be thin and never drink it at all.
posted by Sara C. at 6:16 PM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Switching to vodka and wine has helped me lose weight. I find it very easy to backslide when i start letting myself drink more and more beer, especially if it isn't light beer. Of course you're sipping speed, so to speak, matters a lot. I tend to drink vodka sodas fast because I drink them at basically the same rate I would a soda or a beer, but there is generally a lot more alcohol in a vodka soda for the amount of liquid, while I tend to drink wine very slowly (almost too slow as half the time my white wine is too warm half way through). I have yet to find the alcoholic drink, that I can order at a bar, that let's me drink at the nice moderate pace that beer seems to allow, which is why backsliding is so easy...
posted by whoaali at 6:40 PM on June 22, 2011

Yeah, but could you really never drink beer again?

God no, and I don't think it's necessary, unless one is someone who can't regulate one's alcohol intake, in which case, what alcohol one is intaking is the least of one's problems!

I do still have beer; it's just much more occasional than it used to be, and when I drink it, I drink the Good Stuff (generally, high-ABV hoppy microbrews), and I don't drink tons of it.
posted by rtha at 6:56 PM on June 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

I'm type1 diabetic, and carbs matter to me. I eat them, sure, but for various reasons I don't like to take insulin for alcohol, at least not regularly. So my drinking patterns have switched, for slightly different reasons than you, but in ways that align.

I love me my hard liquor. But I've had trouble finding a "sessionable" drink... Martinis are lovely, but they are not for swigging while watching the game. Ditto whiskey. Sometimes i alternate whiskey with a glass of water. If i feel swiggy, i try vodka & seltzer & lime, which is...... OK. Citrus flavored vodka helps, for no carbs or calories (I don't think.)
posted by kestrel251 at 8:25 PM on June 22, 2011

Best answer: I'm in the same basic boat as the OP and I think switching to whiskey is good for some other reasons too.

If you come in from mowing the lawn you are not going to reach for a delicious shot of cold whiskey. Does a scotch sound nice with that (pizza|barbecue|vietnamese food|etc)? No, it does not. Sitting in the back yard on the hammock, wouldn't a whiskey be nice? Basically not having beer around removed a lot of the casual beers I drank - I probably had 3 fewer drinks per week, even disregarding that scotch has fewer calories per unit of drunkenness. Important not to replace these refreshment beers with soda or something though. Although I do have carbonated water "on tap" and I'll add syrup to these and make italian sodas sometimes - if you're frugal with the syrup it's maybe 1/3 the calories of a coke at most.
posted by RustyBrooks at 8:25 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Like many others I've had to cut carbs. Whiskey is better than beer, but I don't like whiskey in the summer (which, sadly, is when I LOVE beer). I've taken to mixing a little bit of nice vodka with a whole lot of lime-flavored mineral water. It feels depressingly girly, but what can you do?

My doctor actually recommended vodka-based mixed drinks to me in pretty much the same breath as the one in which she told me to back off on the wine and beer, which tells you that my doctor is pretty cool.
posted by troublesome at 10:58 PM on June 22, 2011

Yes. Try diluting with seltzer water in order to bypass overconsumption.
posted by oceanjesse at 11:17 PM on June 22, 2011

If I'm reading that article correctly, the calories from the alcohol itself largely don't count towards weight gain or loss?

Yeah, I got the impression that it's drunk munchies that causes noticeable weight gain, although the alcohol itself counts towards a large chunk of that.
posted by spiderskull at 12:15 AM on June 23, 2011

A calorie is a calorie. They all count.
posted by abx1-se at 3:32 AM on June 23, 2011

Best answer: You may not get fat, but if you consume the same number of drinks, you'll get broke unless you stick to godawful well shit. Even at cheap bars, a single bourbon is going to set you back $4-5 minimum, possibly $8-9 depending on where you are. Depending on how stiff they pour 'em, that could be anywhere from one to four ounces. If it's the latter, hell, that's probably good for the evening. If it's the former, you're looking at getting at least a couple more, and now you're down $15-20. You can get a lot of beer, even good beer, for $15-20. And most bars don't run specials on whiskey, so no help there.

If you up your game to single malt though... that'd get you no more than two hits. Potentially less. It don't cost a dollar.
posted by valkyryn at 4:42 AM on June 23, 2011

Best answer: That being said, you should absolutely switch to whiskey. It's better, and it's way cooler.
posted by valkyryn at 4:44 AM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I lost five lbs in the last two weeks from cutting out beer, but I switched to water. I also am not overweight so it was quite a shock. I think you should do it if you're looking for weight loss.
posted by pintapicasso at 5:47 AM on June 23, 2011

I was surprised how much the alcohol content matters even in beer. Just going up one percent, which is pretty typical for better beers, really adds up over a night.
posted by smackfu at 7:29 AM on June 23, 2011

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