All participants who want to do an alcohol-free month such as Dry January, Dry July, Sober October or Tournée minerale have their own reasons to quit alcohol for a month. But whatever the reason for the total abstinence month may be, just about every participant hopes for a little weight loss as a side effect of his AF month. In that case, is it wise to replace your favorite drink with non-alcoholic alternatives for a month, or do you have to rely on water for the next 30 days?
An empty calorie bomb
Because there is no difference in appearance between pure alcohol and water, you might suspect that alcohol, just like water, contains no calories at all. Nothing could be further from the truth. In 100 ml. pure alcohol are around 700 kcal. That is almost as much as in butter, slightly less than in pure sunflower oil, which contains 880 kcal. per 100 ml.
An additional disadvantage is that alcohol consists only of empty calories from which your body cannot extract nutrients such as carbohydrates or proteins. Alcohol also contains hardly any vitamins or minerals. The fact that alcohol consists of empty calories means that your body can’t actually do anything positive with it.
A particularly annoying side effect is that your metabolism, after drinking alcohol, can’t store the alcohol and wants to get rid of it as quick as possible. And that process always gets the highest priority. Many other processes that should take place in your body, such as burning fat to name just one, are put on hold while your body is breaking down alcohol. It’s clear that this will not really help your diet.
Not only alcohol
Of course there is not only alcohol in an alcoholic drink. As most people know, a beer contains about 5% alcohol, a glass of wine roughly 12% and a glass of spirits up to 40%. In addition to alcohol, your favorite drink therefore consists for the most part of other nutrients. This can be sugars, but also fats, salts, proteins, minerals, vitamins etc … Some of these products are really good for you. The hop in your beer, the herbs in your Gin, the grapes in your wine, are all very healthy foods, so in most cases not everything in your drink is unhealthy.
Of course these other nutrients are also present in the alcohol-free version of your favorite drink. Non-alcoholic beer also contains hops, wine also includes grapes, non-alcoholic distillates also contain herbs. Sometimes even more, because alcohol acts as a flavour booster, so that in some cases more flavour agents have to be used in non-alcoholic drinks in order to provide enough taste. As a result, you will see that some alcohol-free drinks contain a little more sugars, proteins and carbohydrates, but in general you will find fewer calories in AF drinks than in a glass of alcohol.
What is the difference?
It is difficult to say exactly how much less calories an alcohol-free drink actually contains, because it is different for every product. In 100 ml. Carlsberg are for example 14 kcal. which is very little when you know that there are around 40 in the alcoholic version. This means that Carlsberg 0.0 contains approximately two thirds fewer calories than its alcoholic variant. Carlsberg scores very good here, but with most other beers you can say that the non-alcoholic version contains 1/3 to half the calories.
Alcohol-free wines and sparkling wines also contain a lot less calories than those with alcohol. For example, alcohol-free Freixenet contains around 23 kcal. per 100 ml, while the regular version contains 81. You find roughly the same values when you compare a normal non-alcoholic wine with an alcoholic one. For wine you can say that less than 1/3 of the calories can be found in an alcohol-free bottle.
Non-alcoholic distillates (as you can find in this list) take the lead when you compare them with their alcoholic brothers and sisters. Hardly any calories can be found in most of these distillates. Of course you will usually use this in a mix with eg tonic. And that tonic or other soft drinks you use to mix contain calories. Except when you use a light version. For comparison: in 100ml. Gin are around 260 kcal. So when you replace 50 ml. gin by 50 ml. non-alcoholic distillate, you can easily save around 130 kcal.
We used Carlsberg as an example for an alcohol-free beer, but nowadays there are numerous alcohol-free beers and drinks from brands that do not make alcoholic products. You can therefore not compare them with their alcoholic versions. With these drinks it is best to look on the label, where the nutritional values are always stated. Compare this with the calories in the drink that you would normally drink, and you immediately know if you are saving calories. After all, here and there you will find drinks that contain as many calories as an alcoholic drink. Even then, the alcohol-free version will usually be slightly better because your body does not have to go to the alcohol to break down.
No crash diet
So when you replace alcohol with an alcohol-free variant, you don’t do a crash diet. The non-alcoholic variants also contain calories, but significantly less than the alcoholic drinks. If you really want to lose a lot of weight, isn’t it better to only drink water during your alcohol-free month? Well, yes of course, but there is still a snag there, in our opinion.
A whole month of total abstinence is already a test in itself for many people. Leaving your favorite drink when you go out for an evening with friends, happen to have something to celebrate that month, or when you want to relax after a busy working week, can be quite challenging. When you can only fall back on water, you make it even more difficult. The boredom can strike quickly, the chance that you will stop the total abstinence early is real.
An alcohol-free alternative will probably taste better than a normal glass of water, so the chance of getting bored becomes a little smaller. Because there are also delicious non-alcoholic sparkling wines and cocktails, you also have plenty of opportunities to keep it a little more festive on a special occasion.
Finally, searching for non-alcoholic drinks that suit your taste is just fun. You can currently find them in most supermarkets, but dozens of drinks can also be found online. And we try to help you a bit with our reviews. It is almost certain that during your alcohol-free period you can find a few drinks that will really suit you. This can come in handy in the future too, because there will probably come more occasions when you cannot, may not or do not want to drink alcohol. By knowing which non-alcoholic beverages you like, you will immediately know which alternative you can rely on. Keeping an eye on this site will keep you informed of new non-alcoholic products and recipes all the time, so keep on doing so.