Alcohol may be sabotaging your diet

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Alcohol. It's a fixture at holiday parties, but it's also is a calorie guzzler - one drink can eat up 10% or more of a dieter's daily allotment, depending on how fanciful the beverage is.

And there are other ways booze can undermine your wellness efforts. The calories in every gram of alcohol have no nutritional value, so you're also missing out on the vitamins and minerals you get from food calories.

What's more, heavy drinking can affect your metabolism and lead your body to store fat, hampering muscle development, the American Council on Exercise reports.

Despite its initial feel-good effect, alcohol is actually a depressant, negatively affecting brain function, balance and hand-eye coordination. It can leave you feeling sluggish while ramping up your appetite, causing you to eat hundreds of unwanted calories, often unhealthful "bar food."

But the news isn't all bad. As with most consumption, it comes down to moderation - that's a max of one drink a day for women and two for men.

To avoid overdoing it on booze:

  • Know the standard drink sizes so you can account for the correct number of calories.
  • Never drink on an empty stomach -- food helps to slow down alcohol's effects.
  • Have a sip of water between sips of alcohol to make the drink last longer.
  • Set daily and weekly goals for consumption, and record drinks just as you do meals in a food journal

Are you drinking too much? Take our quiz and find out.

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