It surprises me when I conduct a consultation how we forget to consider calories we consume through drinking. With work piling up, late nights, and parties galore, our consumption of beverages such as coffee, diet soft drink and alcohol generally increase by Dec. Learn 4 nutrition philosophies to avoid unwanted weight gain.


When I give out a menu plan at the end of a year I am often asked questions like: What about my daily coffee? And am I allowed to drink alcohol? And what do I do at Christmas Parties?

Put quite simply and to dispel some of the confusion, in an ideal world, I really wouldn't want any of my clients to consume any drinks with dairy, or alcohol full stop, not if they are serious about weight loss results. But in an attempt not to be branded the party police, I instead make four nutrition based drinking philosophies for my clients over the holiday season:

• Coffee can be enjoyed but should be black. Go crazy with the Herbal Teas.
• No soft drink, diet or otherwise.
• Alcohol should always be in moderation. Choose two or three occasions over the Christmas/New Year period, and no getting train-wrecked.
• When you do decide to drink, alcohol should include wine or sip on straight spirits with ice, or sugar free mixers only.

Admittedly these are all super strict to most people, but I make these suggestions with the understanding that by setting the standard higher than what is likely, my clients will strive for something better than what is really needed and this will keep them on track in the best way possible for their goals rather than completely blow out, or succumb to a cycle of 'oh just this once' which soon becomes the norm rather than the exception.

There are also actually genuine reasons why I make these recommendations for anyone trying to watch their waistlines over the holiday season. And here's why:

COFFEE – The good news is that coffee alone is a stimulant and won't have any negative effects on weight loss in fact some studies show that it actually helps to speed up the bodies metabolic processes in dropping body fat. But where most of us go wrong, even if we don't have sugar in our coffee is in the dairy we choose to add to our morning kickstart. Take this comparison for example:

A regular sized café bought coffee of 300mL:

With: Whole Milk Skim Milk Low-Fat Milk
Total Calories 168 93 117
Fat Content 9.6gm 0.3gm 3.6gm
Carb Content 12gm 12.9gm 12.6gm
Sugar Content 12gm 12.9gm 12.6gm
  3 tspn 3.25 tspn 3.22 tspn






Recommended Calorie Swap:

A regular Sized Coffee: 1 Apple with 1/2 Tablespoon of Peanut Butter
coffeecup 1/2 Small Banana with 1/4 Cup of Danone Yoghurt
1 Large Egg omelette with 1/2 cup Veggies
2 Strawberries, 1/4 cup blueberries and 7 grapes
2 Medium Carrots with 1 Tablespoon of Hummus
1 Cup of diced Watermelon with 1.5 Cups of popcorn
14 Almonds







DIET SOFT DRINK – We all know soft drink is a no no simply because of its calorie and sugar content, but I often hear that someone has taken to drinking diet soft drink for a healthier alternative. However, from a weight loss perspective, you still may not be doing yourself any favours. These 'calorie free', diet soft drinks still contain artificial sugars. Which lead our body to still produce the same reaction within our body as real sugar in encouraging fat storage and weight gain through the release of insulin.

Studies by the University of Texas found that over 10 years,diet soda drinkers had a 70% greater increase in their waistline than non-drinkers. And those who had two or more per day experienced a 500% greater increase.

softdrinkSuch studies have shown that diet soft drinks have an association with weight gain whilst artificial sugars can lead to headaches, migraines, dizzy spells, mood swings, tooth decay and increase your chances of developing metabolic diseases and diabetes.
So keeping in mind the consumption of artificial sweeteners has some side effects, and that they largely dull our taste of naturally sweet whole foods (like fruit and berries), AND they have no nutritional value whatsoever, they really serve no purpose in a nutrition plan based on whole foods other than to greater exasperate the craving for unnecessary sweetness. Besides, I'm not sure any product that is used to clean toilets and restore old coins is something that should be really be consumed by healthy individuals.

There are very few foods that have no nutritional value but diet soft drink is one of them. Unlike water which is essential in many of the bodies processes, replacing water with soft drink of any kind, even of the 'diet' variety, makes no sense and so I always encourage my clients to make a switch to just plain water to keep their body functioning correctly and to assist in their fat loss attempts.

Recommended Calorie Swap: Water

ALCOHOL – Like coffee, alcohol gets a bit of a bad wrap when it comes to weight loss. The truth of it is that alcohol is actually the first fuel to burn once consumed, but the problem becomes that while our body is alcohol 10 intakeprocessing alcohol, it is prevented from burning fat.
This means those tasty crispy appetisers you eat while drinking is certainly going to add to your waistline. To top it up alcohol also stimulates your appetite. Research shows that drinking during or before a meal, reduces inhibition and will power. So we become more likely to overeat, especially fried and fatty foods at the crucial time when your body simply can't burn them off.

Alalcohol icecreamcohol also has a high calorie content. So even if you are drinking in moderation, you are likely to put on weight with regular intake. This is because 1 gram of alcohol contains 7 calories. That's almost the same as the amount of calories per gram of fat!

This is also why alcohol should not be combined with high sugar mixers or cocktail combinations as it only increases the calorie content, and comes with the metabolic side effects of sugar.


Recommended Calorie Swap:

Whiskey 1 x 30mL Shot 111 Open Turkey Sandwich 100
Vodka 1 x 30mL Shot 55 30gm Smoked Salmon on 2 Crackers 55
Beer 1 & 1/2 Middy's 208 1 Bowl of Chinese Vegetable Chow Mein 171
Wine 1 glass 89 1/2 Corn Cob with Feta, Lime & Cayenne 78





Overall, a diet devoid of any soft drink, alcohol and dairy is always going to yield better fat loss results than diets which include these simply because of the calorie content and the way in which our body digests these calories or metabolises fat when we consume them.
It is unlikely at all times to sustain these restrictions so perhaps a compromise can be made using the 4 healthy eating principles I suggest to my clients, even if just to get you through the holiday season without the battle of unwanted weight gain. Abstain to make this new year different, and get ahead on your new years fitness resolutions to do something that will make you feel better.

Enjoy a great holiday and have a healthy new year!

-Jamie McLoughlan

jamie mc