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Alcohol

Here you will find information on:

> What happens in your body when you drink alcohol?

> How to manage alcohol in the social setting.

> Does alcohol ‘burn off’ in the cooking process? [Answer: No]

 

WHAT HAPPENS IN YOUR BODY WHEN YOU DRINK ALCOHOL?

Alcohol is rapidly absorbed by the body and the body recognises it as a poison, which it is. It is a neurotoxin, which means it is poisonous to the nervous system.

Because it is a poison, the body gives priority to getting rid of it. It will never store the calories in alcohol, but will always burn them in the process of getting rid of the alcohol.

While the body is focussing on getting rid of alcohol, and burning the calories from alcohol as fuel, it will not break down fat as a source of energy.

So fat loss slows right down or ceases.

The way I explain it is to say ‘Drinking alcohol is like pressing the PAUSE button on your diet’.

 

TIPS FOR MANAGING ALCOHOL IN THE SOCIAL SETTING:

You can just decline alcohol and your choice should be respected. You should never feel that you ‘have’ to drink alcohol just to please your host. After all, would a muslim or jew feel pressured into eating pork just to please their host?

If you don’t want to drink alcohol [which is of course the ideal] but do feel pressured into taking a glass of alcohol and don’t want to risk creating a scene or having to justify your choice, just take it, set it aside, and ask for a glass of water as well. Drink the water and just leave the alcohol sitting there – as long as you have a full glass of wine in front of you, you’re unlikely to be offered more or get into a situation where you feel you have to explain why you’re not drinking alcohol.

But if you do decide to drink alcohol, here’s how to minimise the damage:

Start a social event with 2 large glasses sparkling water – those first one or two drinks that seem to go down rather fast when you arrive at a social function are usually addressing thirst.

If then moving on to drink alcohol, fill your glass with ice [if this fits with what you are drinking] and then add the white wine or whatever. You will drink this more slowly because it is very cold, it will last longer, and by the time you get to the bottom of the glass it will be very dilute.

Throughout the event, alternate your alcoholic drinks with water.

Which alcohol is ‘best’? I’m often asked this. Which doesn’t actually mean ‘Which is best?’ but means ‘Which is the least destructive for my diet?’

Champagne, dry white wine, dry red wine, and rose are all ‘much of a muchness’ when it comes to calories and carbs, so take your pick.

 

DOES ALCOHOL ‘BURN OFF’ IN THE COOKING PROCESS? NO !

Contrary to popular opinion, cooking removes only a portion of the alcohol added to a dish, a much smaller portion than you possibly thought.

Perhaps most interesting, 75% of the alcohol remains after flambéing. A whopping thirty-five percent (35%) of alcohol remains even after a dish has been simmered 30 minutes on the stove, according to a 2003 USDA study. Alcohol remains in a dish chemically, even when its taste is undetectable – a very important consideration for someone in sobriety or for those cooking for someone in sobriety.

USDA Table of Nutrient Retention Factors, Release 6 (2007)

Table from USDA Showing Percent of Alcohol Retained After Cooking

Preparation Method and Percent of Alcohol Retained:

alcohol added to boiling liquid & then immediately removed from heat 85%
alcohol flamed 75%
no heat, stored uncovered overnight 70%
baked/simmered, 25 minutes, alcohol not stirred into mixture 45%
baked/simmered, alcohol stirred into mixture 15 minutes 40%
30 minutes 35%
1 hour 25%
1.5 hours 20%
2 hours 10%
2.5 hours 5%

 

From the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, April, 2002, by Eleese Cunningham:

“The extent of loss depends on the severity of the heat application, or any other factor favouring evaporation. Cooking time had the greatest impact on alcohol retention. Flaming a dish results in much smaller losses of alcohol than cooking. Uncooked and briefly cooked dishes had the highest alcohol retention. Alcohol retention during cooking was also greatly affected by the size of the cooking vessel used. The smaller the cooking utensil the greater the amount of alcohol retained. This was likely due to the smaller surface area for evaporation.”