Dieting, and alcohol and caffeine
August 2, 2006 11:16 AM   Subscribe

What should I expect from caffeine and alcohol if I'm cutting way down on carbs and calories? I'm aware the "party line" from dietitians on those things may be sort of negative and easy to Google, but I'm interested in the experiences of you or your friends.

Just to start things off:

* Caffeine -- Seems like a super way to ramp my metabolism up another notch while suppressing my appetite. I drink coffee on and off, so I'm thinking about drinking a couple of cups during the day. I typically have my coffee black, so I'm only concerned the caffeine here. I also find it doesn't disrupt my sleep... I'm able to drop right off every night.

* Alcohol -- I enjoy a few beers every couple of nights to wind down and relax. I've quickly switched to vodka with non-HFCS cranberry juice, which seems to yield the best balance between buzz and calories. I believe the Atkins camp says that alcohol is ok, bearing in mind it's a sugar and your body preferentially burns those sugars while the alcohol is in your system. The theory is interesting but I'm curious about experiences with alcohol while dieting. So far I'm finding that it increases my hunger, but on the flip side it seems to be easier to ignore the hunger, too.

My intent is (of course) to lose weight.. and yes I am taking care of the physical/exercise side of the equation with cycling.

As an aside, I'd also like to hear about foods, supplements, or anything interesting that helps curb the appetite; no spam or product endorsements please. I know lots of water is a good shortcut that I don't have to feel guilty about.
posted by chef_boyardee to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I drank while on my biggest diet run, when I dropped about 60 pounds. My drink of choice was rum and diet coke, and it never seemed to hurt my progress with the diet (Atkins). IIRC, I didn't drink much or at all during the first month or two of the diet, though.

The biggest problem is reduced inhibitions and judgement - its a lot easier to screw up your diet after having a few drinks.

I drank diet soda throughout the process, even though most artificial sweeteners were not recommended. It didn't seem to hurt, either.
posted by TommyH at 11:25 AM on August 2, 2006 [1 favorite]

I drank vodka and red wine (appreciable amounts of both), the occasional beer, and tons of coffee/Diet Coke when I did Atkins, and lost about 30 lbs over the course of a year.
posted by tristeza at 11:28 AM on August 2, 2006

Well, aside from the alcohol's seriously deleterious effects on your brain tissue, you've got very little problem there, just watch the total calories.

You are right about caffeine... I suggest green tea capsules. While sugar is the devil, caffeine is proving more and more useful.
posted by ewkpates at 11:53 AM on August 2, 2006

I do find that Atkins makes me a cheap date, and that the effects tend to sneak up on me so that I've overindulged before I know it. And the hangovers are worse, because of the extra sugar crash.

I never managed to give up caffeine, and still lose weight fine as long as I drink enough water.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:05 PM on August 2, 2006

Instead of the coffee, take some Excedrin Migrane. Those things are packed with cafeine and pump you up.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:42 PM on August 2, 2006

I beg to differ with JohnnyGunn. If you're just looking for the caffeine, take a Vivarin. You won't be doing your liver any favors by loading up on acetaminophen and aspirin (two ingredients in Excedrin Migraine) during your attempt to caffeinate, especially if you're going to be drinking (moderately, yes, but still drinking) at the same time.
posted by jesourie at 3:30 PM on August 2, 2006

sugar-free red bull
for real.
two a day. energy & metabolism booster without the calories. i can't drink diet sodas or have any type of artificial sweetener, but i can handle these just fine.
posted by jessica at 5:57 PM on August 2, 2006

Personal anecdote: I drank a lot of diet soda when I was losing weight, and it didn't seem to hurt me. I've also heard of people who do use caffeine for the purpose you describe-- to boost metabolism-- after workouts and as part of supplement "stacks."

Alcohol, obviously, is calorie-dense, but if you count it, you'll probably be okay. There is all that literature advocating a drink a day or whatever (I'm not much of a drinker so I haven't read up on it myself). The trouble is you'll be getting a lot of empty calories, I guess.

In any case, if you really enjoy a drink now and then that much, I suspect that as long as you do so in moderation, it probably won't hurt you that much so long as you remember to account for the calories in it. So, I don't want to see you posting again next month complainig that you can't lose weight if you're going out on benders each weekend. ;)

And, heed TommyH's advice regarding inhibitions. I didn't drink for a long time, and then was at a party after my graduation, and suddenly eating three slices of cake didn't seem like such a bad idea. Vodka will do that. It wasn't even very good cake.
posted by synecdoche at 6:18 PM on August 2, 2006

I lost about 100 pounds in a year while still enjoying 1 or 2 beers before dinner. I just counted the calories in it. Otherwise I stuck to real food -- lean meat, veggies and a little fruit, at least 12 calories/lb of body weight. Exercised for about an hour 3-5 days a week, and got plenty of sleep.

I didn't consume any caffeine, though, so I don't know if it would have made a difference one way or the other.
posted by sgass at 6:55 PM on August 2, 2006

i didt the low carb thing to lose 60lbs (3 months) and get into the army. i drank beer and coffee the whole time. once youre in ketosis, you should be all good. the alcohol is a byproduct of sugar, and contains no carbs. beer will have some carbs becuase its not distilled down like vodka.

have some beers. drink a little coffee. but coffee kinda reverses the whole adkins effect - or so they say. i never experienced a reversal...
posted by Davaal at 10:13 PM on August 2, 2006

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