Alcohol & Weight Loss - is it really that bad?

 

When wanting to lose weight you should consider reducing or eliminating alcohol.  Not only does it contribute to excess calorie intake, it is the hormonal affect that alcohol had on appetite and blood sugar balance which can kick our bodies into fat storage for days after it is consumed. 

 

Alcohol is processed differently and a lot quicker compared to food; it is absorbed straight into the bloodstream and can reach the liver and brain within minutes (1). Seeing as the body cannot store alcohol the liver must focus all its attention on breaking it down, if you drink too fast the liver cannot keep up with processing the alcohol so it builds up in the bloodstream and affects other organs and body parts causing more inflammation throughout the body.

 

Adding to this, the alcohol also has the following effects that are detrimental to weight loss;

 

 

  • When alcohol is consumed the liver does not breakdown carbohydrates and fats properly so they are converted straight into body fat stores (1).  This means that the hormonal effect of alcohol switches your body from fat burning to fat storage.

  • Alcohol increases carbohydrate consumption, and even if you do account for the extra calories in the alcohol by decreasing food intake, you've pushed out of your diet other important foods that contain not just energy, but also vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, fiber, amino acids, and other good stuff you need to be healthy and lose fat.

  • Blood sugar level (BSL) balance is key to metabolism – alcohol inhibits the body’s ability to make glucose which leads to irregular BSL (2). This leads to increased fat storage, cravings and irregular appetite (2).

  • Alcohol adds empty calories with no nutritional value (1).

  • Whilst alcohol might make it easier to fall asleep, it prevents you from reaching the deep refreshing stage of sleep and compromises the quality (1).  This leads to increased food consumption the next day.

  • Alcohol in large doses can also increase cortisol (stress hormone) release and, for men who drink regularly it can decrease testosterone and elevate estrogen leading to more feminine body shape, fatigue and issues with sexual performance.

  • Alcohol can interfere with the nighttime release of growth hormone (which assists weight loss) that occurs soon after you fall asleep and, as you know, most people drink late at night.

  • Alcohol increases stomach acid leading to inflammation and ulcers.  It also puts an extra toxic burden on the Liver and heart.

  • Alcohol stimulates appetite leading to increased consumption, poor food choices and increased intake of fatty foods and starchy carbs (1).

  • Alcohol is a diuretic which causes dehydration, depletes vital minerals  and vitamins including magnesium, zinc, potassium, calcium and b vitamins (1)

  • To counter the effects of alcohol you need to increase the intensity and duration of exercise – to give you an idea it takes 30min-40min of brisk walking or 20min of jogging to counter the fat storage effects of 1 glass of wine or 1 standard drink (no-mixer).

 

If you're serious about your fat loss program, you're compromising your results if you drink. The rest of the time, if you drink, you should drink in moderation and infrequently, and not every day, because drinking even small amounts daily is habit-forming.

Vicki Witt

Clinical Nutritionist, Holistic Coach, Certified LEAP allergy therapist, Reiki Master

BS (Nutr & Food Sci) PG Dip Clin Nutr RNutr

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