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How long do I have to walk to burn off a glass of alcohol?

By Alison Crow

Pharmacist / Diabetes Educator 

 

Alcohol can be enjoyed by any person in moderation, including people living with diabetes.

 

Recommendations for healthy adults choosing to drink alcohol are to consume no more than two standard drinks per day and have two alcohol-free days per week.

 

On any single occasion, the recommendation is to consume no more than four standard drinks of alcohol over several hours.

 

A standard drink of alcohol and the standard serving size of alcohol may vary. The standard serving size of a glass of wine in a restaurant is often 150mL, which is 1.5 standard drinks. A schooner of mid-strength beer is 425mL and is also 1.5 standard drinks. A can of pre-mixed spirit is 375mL and can be up to 1.8 standard drinks.

 

Alcohol is high in kilojoules. Even consumed in small, regular amounts, alcohol can contribute to excess kilojoules in our diet while providing no nutritional value. Regular consumption of alcohol can lead to weight gain.

 

So how do we overcome the excess kilojoules that alcohol provides in our diet? Extra exercise is recommended to help maintain a healthy weight.

 

So how much extra exercise or physical activity is required to burn off kilojoules from alcohol?

In the table below, a comparison is provided of the average serving size of different alcoholic beverages, the kilojoules each drink provides and how long you would need to walk at a moderate pace to burn off those kilojoules.

 

Alcoholic beverage

Energy (kilojoules)

Number of standard drinks

Approximate walking time to walk off energy from alcoholic beverage (minutes)

Average restaurant serving of wine (150ml)

450kJ

1.5

35

1 schooner of mid-strength beer (425ml)

650kJ

1.5

55

Bottle of mid-strength beer (375ml)

570kJ

1.3

48

Bottle of light beer (375ml)

390kJ

0.8

30

30ml spirit + can of regular soft drink (375ml)

900kJ

1

75

30ml spirit + can of diet soft drink (375ml)

300kJ

1

25

Pre-mixed spirit 375ml can

1050-1200kJ

1.5-1.8

90

^Note that the energy content of alcoholic beverages can vary significantly depending on alcohol content (%).

 

A person who consumes one glass of wine a day would need to walk at a moderate pace for 35 minutes to burn off the kilojoules from the wine. A person who chooses to drink one schooner of mid-strength beer would need to walk at a moderate pace for 55 minutes to burn off the kilojoules. If there is no exercise or physical activity to burn off the kilojoules, then the excess energy will cause weight gain.

 

What can be done to avoid excessive alcohol consumption?

Keeping track of the amount of standard drinks of alcohol you are consuming is a good start to understanding how many kilojoules are being consumed.

 

Measuring the volume of the alcohol you consume and diluting alcoholic drinks with diet soft drink or soda water will help to reduce the kilojoules consumed. Alternatively, walking in the afternoon before dinner may encourage healthier choices in the evening.

 

Ultimately, understanding how many kilojoules are in your alcoholic drink and how many minutes of physical activity is required to burn off the energy from that drink may help you when choosing to drink alcohol.

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