How Drinking Alcohol Affects Weight Loss

  • By Sharon LaCroix
  • 15 Jun, 2017

Alcohol is a Weight Loss Enemy

Alcohol makes us fat
Alcohol and Fat Gain

Have you wondered how alcohol is metabolized, and how that affects your ability to lose weight?

Alcohol is a big issue when it comes to weight loss and for more reasons than you think. Yes it adds extra calories to your diet, but alcohol also stimulates you to eat more food, and alters the normal digestive process. Not only are the extra calories an issue, but the changes in food breakdown turns those extra calories into unwanted body fat.  

Alcohol is Different 

Alcohol is metabolized differently than other foods and beverages. Normally your body gets its energy from calories in carbohydrates, fats and proteins, which are slowly digested and absorbed within the gastrointestinal system.

When alcohol is present, viewed by the body as a toxin, it gets first priority in metabolism. That means the body's metabolic focus is on processing the alcohol, not on food calories. Plus your body can't store alcohol, so it must metabolize it right away.  And that causes your food calories  to be converted in to body fat and are carried away for storage – mostly around your mid-section. 

When you drink alcohol, your body makes metabolizing it a priority over all other metabolic processes by sending alcohol to the liver, which produces the enzymes necessary for the oxidation and metabolism of alcohol.   

Alcohol is a diuretic

As a diuretic alcohol causes water loss and dehydration. Along with this water loss you lose important minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc. These minerals are vital to the maintenance of fluid balance, chemical reactions, and muscle contraction and relaxation. Dehydration further slows fat metabolism and enhances fat storage.

Alcohol offers NO nutritional value

At 7 calories per gram alcohol only adds empty calories to your diet and has no nutritional value. "Empty" however does not mean the calories do not count. Alcohol calories are the same as food calories, they are just empty of nutritional value.   

Not only does alcohol not contain any nutrients of its own, but it can impair your body's ability to absorb nutrients and vitamins from the food you eat. Alcohol irritates your gastrointestinal tract, and can damage your body's ability to absorb nutrients, vitamins and minerals from the food you eat.

It can often contribute to malnutrition because the high levels of calories in most alcoholic drinks can account for a large percentage of your daily energy requirements. Even one alcoholic drink a day can contribute to malnutrition.

Alcohol and Your Liver

Alcohol is toxic to your liver, and if you drink heavily for a long time you can experience cirrhosis of the liver and death. Heavy drinking over the long term can also impair your liver's ability to activate vitamins, which contributes to the malnutrition often suffered by long term alcoholics.

Alcohol and Blood Sugar

Maintaining adequate blood sugar levels is one of the key functions of your metabolism, but when you drink alcohol, maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is one of the first elements of metabolism to be shoved aside in your body's rush to excrete the toxins as efficiently as possible. Alcohol inhibits your body's ability to make glucose and to maintain healthy levels of glucose (or blood sugar) in the blood. Over time, heavy drinkers develop glucose intolerance and can even become diabetic.

Even occasional alcohol consumption can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar levels, especially when consumed on an empty stomach. That's why drinking alcohol can be very dangerous for diabetics and hypoglycemics.

Stomach Inflammation  Alcohol can also increase the amount of acid your stomach produces, causing your stomach lining to become inflamed.      

Alcohol   continues   to slow the metabolism of long term drinkers, but it also causes inflammation in the organs of the digestive tract. If you drink heavily in the long term, alcohol can impair your body's ability to absorb nutrients. If you become chronically malnourished due to alcohol consumption, you'll lose weight in spite of your slower metabolism.

Alcohol affects Sleep.   While drinking may help induce sleep, that sleep you get is not very deep. As a result, you get less rest, which can trigger you to eat more calories the next day.    

Alcohol lowers your inhibitions  and actually stimulates your appetite.    While you might be full from a comparable amount of calories from food, several drinks won’t fill you up even though it’s the same number of calories.  Which means you are more likely to overeat—especially greasy or fried foods—which you’ll end up wearing on your waistline.

  • Alcohol can lower your body's ability to burn fat. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, participants who consumed less than an ounce of alcohol over a 30-minute time period reduced their body's ability to burn fat by 73 percent.
  • Alcohol can derail your good intentions. When people consume alcohol, their bodies' senses for feeling full are dulled. This produces a compounded effect in that alcohol, on one hand, reduces our ability to withstand temptations, and if our body can't sense it's full, we may consume more calories than we need.
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    Alcohol does have a bad reputation when it comes to fat gain and fat loss, so be smart about your choices if you want a trimmer waistline and improved health.

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