Alcopops, Calories and Weight Gain

In its “Beware the side effects of alcopops” ad now running in college newspapers across the country, the Center for Science in the Public Interest equates drinking so-called alcopops (flavored malt beverages or malternatives similar to beer) with obesity and asserts that, in terms of calories, “putting away three on Friday night gives you the equivalent of a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder and a small order of fries.” 1

That’s highly deceptive because three alcopops -- or three beers, glasses of wine or shots of liquor (whiskey, tequila, rum, vodka, etc.) -- are much, much less fattening than a Quarter Pounder and a small order of fries.

Consider the facts. A Quarter Pounder with a small order of fries has 31 grams of fat. On the other hand, alcopops, beer, wine and liquor have zero grams of fat. No fat at all. Counting carbs? A Quarter Pounder with a small order of fries has 64 grams. Low-carb alcopops have from 2 to 15 grams, regular beer has 13.1 grams, a light beer has 4.6, a glass of wine has 1.75 and liquor has zero grams of carbohydrates.

But you can’t eat that burger and salty fries without drinking something. Even a small coke has 150 calories, which is more than a regular beer and its 40 grams of carbs is three times that found in the beer. Of course, substituting a low-carb alcopop, light beer, wine or liquor dramatically cuts both calories and carbs even more. 2

The lack of fat and the low carbohydrate content of alcohol beverages may help explain why so much medical research finds their consumption not to be associated with weight gain in men and some find slight weight loss among women.

 

References:

  1. Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Beware the “Side” Effects of Alcopops, Says CSPI. Center for Science in the Public Interest press release, 3-18-04.
  2. Nutritional data for Quarter Pounder and for small order of fries obtained from McDonald Restaurants website (www.mcdonalds.com). Nutritional information for regular beer, 80 proof distilled spirits, red wine, and small coke obtained from United States Department of Agriculture: Gebhard, Susan E. and Thomas, Robin G. Nutritional Value of Foods. Washington, DC: USDA, 2002 (Home and Garden Bulletin #72). Information on so-called alcopops (flavored malt beverages or malternatives) from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Beware the “Side” Effects of Alcopops, Says CSPI. Center for Science in the Public Interest press release, 3-18-04.

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