To Track Or Not To Track Your Alcohol

NEW BLOG
TRACKING ALCOHOL

Alcohol needs to be tracked in a special way because the calories that pure alcohol provides to the body are neither a carbohydrate, protein, or fat. If you have ever entered an alcoholic beverage in MyFitnessPal you may notice that the drink has calories but little carb, no fat, and no protein. This is because the calories are coming from the alcohol in the drink (which isn’t a nutrient tracked in MyFitnessPal or most other food tracking programs). Since it doesn’t fall into any of the macro categories we are monitoring, we need to do some math to determine how to count it towards our macro goals.

Alcohol can be accounted for by deducting choices from your carbohydrate or fat (depending on your preference). The reason we don’t deduct from protein is that it is ideal to keep protein intake high to reserve lean body mass.

Each macro has the follow calories per gram. This background is useful for the substitutions.
Alcohol= 7 kcal/g
Carbohydrate= 4 kcal/g
Fat= 9 kcal/g
Protein= 4 kcal/g

You will also need to know the number of calories in your alcoholic beverage.

Track as fat:
Take the total amount of calories in your alcoholic beverage and divide by 9 for the grams of fat it contributes

Track as carbohydrate:
Take the total amount of calories in your alcoholic beverage and divide by 4 for the grams of carbs it contributes

Note:

You can manually account for alcohol calories by adding them to your carb or fat macro  
1. If you purchased the Premium MyFitnessPal account you can select “Quick Tools” then “Quick Add Calories” and enter the macro information you have calculated for your alcoholic beverage.
2. You can also search your choice of alcohol in the database as a carb or fat choice. For example search “wine as carb” or “wine as fat” and enter your serving size. The calories from your alcohol will then be accounted for as a fat or carb depending on your choice.
3. Search “gram of carb” or “gram of fat” as a food in MyFitnessPal and manually enter the amount you want to add to your diary. This works well for those who have the free version of MyFintessPal

Examples:

Wine (5 ounce) at 125 calories
Tracked as carb: 31g (125 cal ÷ 4 cal/g)
Tracked as fat: 13g  (125 cal ÷ 9 cal/g)

Shot (1.5 ounce) at 100 calories
Tracked as carb: 20g (100 cal ÷ 4 cal/g)
Tracked as fat: 11g (100 cal ÷ 9 cal/g)

Beer (12 ounce) at ~150 calories:
Tracked as carbs: 38g (150 cal ÷ 4 cal/g)
Tracked as fat:  18g (150 cal ÷ 9 cal/g)

You can split between carb and fat by dividing the calories by 2.
Beer (12 ounce) at ~150 calories:
split between carb and fat:
75cal/4 = 19g of carbs AND + 75cal/9 =8g of fat

Remember: alcohol is considered an empty calorie and a depressant. It doesn’t have any micronutrients and can hinder strength gains and performance in the gym. Alcohol may cause moodiness, lower inhibitions, upset the cycle of restorative sleep, increase the symptoms of depression, and interfere with prescribed medication. Drinking alcohol may become a dangerous coping mechanism, one that can ultimately lead to substance abuse. If you, or someone you care about, cannot refrain from consuming alcohol, or when drinking habits interfere with daily activities, worsening symptoms of anxiety or depression, it may be time to seek the guidance of professional support.