Alcohol consumption can be a hidden reason why you are unable to lose weight even with your best efforts. Like sugar, it adds empty calories to your body and doesn’t provide any essential nutrients, thus leading to weight gain.
Drinking alcohol may also affect the hormones controlling hunger and satiety leading to binge eating and fat gain. Let’s say you’re on a diet trying to lose excess weight and abstain from nutrient-rich foods to save the calorie intake. With this, if you drink alcohol on an empty stomach, the alcohol gets rapidly absorbed and affects the nervous system.
Your judgment skills are impaired, and you can end up drinking more than needed defeating the purpose of your diet for weight loss. Drinking alcohol mixed with caffeinated beverages can make you drink more because you feel less intoxicated due to the caffeine content.1 Here is what you need to know about alcohol and the calories that causes you to gain weight unnecessarily.
Alcohol And Calories
Empty calories are a severe cause of concern if you are concentrating on losing weight. Alcohol is full of empty calories with 7 calories per gram, whereas standard carbohydrates and proteins each contain only 4 calories per gram.2
If you drink sweetened drinks like wine coolers or mix alcohol with sweetened soda, then the calorie count shoots up further. Drinking alcohol stimulates appetite so when you drink alcohol you tend to eat more.
Excessive alcohol intake can induce liver damage, and so-called beer bellies are the result of excess calories from alcoholic beverages like beer. Regular alcohol intake can be a major source of calories.
A social drinker can easily and regularly consume 500 calories in a day or more through alcohol consumption. Since alcohol adds empty calories and has little or no nutritional value in the form of vitamins and minerals, it doesn’t help with cravings either.3
Now, that you know about the calories alcohol contains, let’s examine how it affects the metabolism of your body.
Alcohol And Metabolism
Alcohol can reduce your body’s ability to burn fat because the liver, which normally burns fat, is too busy processing the alcohol. The body rids itself of a small percentage of consumed alcohol via sweat and urination. The majority, however, remains in the body and must be metabolized.
Because your body needs to lower the blood concentrations of alcohol as quickly as possible, it metabolizes the alcohol first, before metabolizing any other food or drink. This is significant if you are trying to lose weight because your body will always burn alcohol before it burns any additional calories or stored fat for energy.
Further, the majority of alcohol metabolism occurs in the liver.4 Repeated metabolism of alcohol in the liver can lead to scarring. In the long term, it can lead to a condition called cirrhosis which may be fatal.
The metabolism of alcohol in the body also prevents the body from adequately absorbing, digesting, and using the nutrients available. Intake of alcohol can also cause deficiencies of the B vitamins, vitamin D, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and zinc, which can interfere with a healthy weight-loss regimen.
Alcohol is a well-known depressant and drinking too much of it causes mood swings and anxiety, a trigger for binge eating and the downward spiral of storing excess calories as fat.5 Just when you thought only alcohol can lead to weight gain, mixing it with caffeinated beverages increases calories leading to those extra pounds you end up wanting to shed. Here is what you need to know about mixing alcohol with other drinks.
Alcohol And Caffeinated Drinks
Drinkers usually combine alcohol with other caffeinated drinks. Alcohol is a depressant while caffeine is a stimulant. When alcohol is mixed with caffeine or any other stimulant like rum or coke, the combination can make people feel less intoxicated than they truly are.
Drinking alcohol with caffeinated beverages will lead them to drink more because they feel less drunk. The result is that they make a poor judgment about what they can do while intoxicated. Combining high caloric caffeinated beverages like cappuccino and latte along with alcohol with its high caloric content can trigger fat accumulation and cortisol in the body.6
If you cannot quit drinking, it is a good practice to reduce alcohol consumption for your health. Here are some tips to reduce your alcohol and, in turn, calorie consumption.
How To Reduce Calorie Consumption With Alcohol
Alcohol can ruin your efforts at achieving a trim and healthy body. If you are a regular drinker who drinks 1000 calories of alcohol per week and leads a sedentary lifestyle, you can gain about 1 pound per month. Also, when you age, your metabolism slows down, and it will be difficult for you to shed those extra pounds due to age-related health issues.
You can alternate alcoholic beverages with non-alcoholic caffeine-free beverages or water between the drinks to reduce your alcohol consumption and to avoid too much water loss as alcohol and caffeinated drinks are diuretics.
If you want to achieve a healthy body mass index (BMI), you may want to taper the consumption of alcohol or avoid it completely. Abstaining from hard alcohol and switching to beverages with low alcohol content can help to reduce consumption gradually.
If you are a heavy drinker who stops drinking cold turkey, you may end up with a stroke, high blood pressure, or other withdrawal symptoms and hence this taper down method can help with alcohol withdrawal safely.7
Alcohol has a comparatively high caloric value and affects the body metabolism, enhancing energy intake which represents a risk factor for weight gain and obesity. It is advisable to go off this habit for the benefit of overall health but even if you continue to drink, ensure that you drink in moderation and do not mix with sugary pops or stimulants like caffeine which would add to the woes of increase in the body weight.
|↑1||Fink, Heather Hedrick and Mikesky, Alan E. “Practical Applications in Sports Nutrition.” Jones & Bartlett Publishers, 2013.|
|↑2||Calories in alcohol. National Health Services (NHS) Choices.|
|↑3||Tarter, Ralph E., and David H. Van Thiel, eds. Alcohol and the brain: Chronic effects. Springer Science & Business Media, 2013.|
|↑4||Alcohol Metabolism: An Update. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.|
|↑5||Can Alcohol Induce Depression?. American Addiction Centers.|
|↑6||Pennay, Amy, Dan I. Lubman, and Peter Miller. “Combining energy drinks and alcohol: A recipe for trouble?.” Australian family physician 40, no. 3 (2011): 104.|
|↑7||Wall W.H. “Trim Body Today: Simple Fitness Solutions for a Modern Sedentary World.” Pronoun, 2016.|