“Beer is the cause and solution to all problems.” – Homer Simpson

“When I read all the health problems caused by alcohol, I stopped reading.” – Henny Youngman

I suppose that I should have written this post before Christmas, giving you the necessary knowledge to get better off from the alcoholic excesses typical of these celebrations. However, I think I was too busy with my own excesses to write anything coherent, so I have put it off until now hoping not to make you feel too guilty for the damage done to your body during these weeks.

On the other hand, the good news is that alcohol (if you know how to choose and drink it with moderation) is not as destructive to your health as some believe.

I want to make it clear that I am not promoting alcohol consumption But, realistically, it is something that you are (we are) going to take from time to time, for example to celebrate the achievement of your goals this new year (and hopefully they are related to improving your physical condition). That is why I think it is important that you have the necessary information to not only minimize the damage of alcohol to your body, but also take advantage of the positive aspects it has.

Moderate alcohol consumption (understanding by moderate 1-2 glasses of wine) may have benefits on the cardiovascular system, reducing blood clotting and reducing thrombus formation, also achieving reduce atherosclerosis problems (hardening and narrowing of the arteries). The polyphenol content of various alcoholic beverages also acts as a antioxidant, reducing the effects of free radicals (linked to aging).

But we cannot ignore its bad side. To get started, pure alcohol provides 7 calories per gram, almost double that of carbohydrates or proteins (4 calories per gram) and almost as many as fat (9 calories per gram), but unlike fats (or carbohydrates or proteins) does not provide any nutrientsThis is why they are called ’empty calories’. Also, the body processes alcohol for energy before glycogen or stored fat, so you will not burn a lot of fat if your alcohol consumption is high.

Therefore, if your goal is to lose weight, you must be very moderate with alcohol, but you can still enjoy a drink every now and then without feeling guilty. Let’s review my recommendations.

1. Red wine – the winner

Without a doubt the most friendly alcohol with your health. It has few carbohydrates (3-5 g per glass), so you can take it even on a ketogenic diet, it has a high content of antioxidants (flavonoids). It is also the one that has the most studies in its favor if taken in moderation (detail, detail).

In short, Jesus Christ knew how to choose his drink.

2. Whiskey, Brany, Cognac – the respectable seconds

These distilled spirits, when they are of quality and have been aged in wooden barrels, contain a much higher quantity of ellagic acid than wine. This acid has antioxidant properties and there are studies that indicate that it prevents certain types of cancer.

The main drawback of these drinks is their high alcohol content, since they have a very high percentage of alcohol (more than 35%), so they must be taken in small doses.

3. White wine – completing the podium

White wine contains roughly the same amount of carbohydrates as red wine, however it has fewer antioxidant properties, so unless you are a true fan of white wine you should go for red.

4. Beer – acceptable but out of the top spots

Beer, like wine, is a fermented drink (not distilled), which also has a high amount of antioxidants and vitamins. This makes it a reasonably healthy option, but its high carbohydrate content (triple that of wine) and gluten content makes it a less recommended option if you are on a ketogenic diet or have any type of gluten sensitivity.

Off the list

The drinks that you should definitely avoid are those prepared with sugar (many cocktails) and of course the typical glasses where alcohol is mixed with soft drinks / sugary drinks (coca-cola, red-bull, 7up…). In these cases you are doubling (or more) the number of calories consumed and reducing the potentially beneficial compounds of traditional alcoholic beverages.

And if you go overboard, read these tips against hangovers.


Just to clarify one more time excess alcohol seriously harms health, and the dose that in the studies is associated with lower mortality is relatively small (1-2 drinks daily). Don’t overdo it.

Now raise your glass and let’s toast a happy 2012!