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4 Reasons That Might Make You Re-Think That Drink

So you're trying to make healthier lifestyle choices, eating right, exercising, and you're making steady progress. But what do you do when events come up? What happens if there's alcohol there? Will it stop your progress? Back track it? How will it affect your weight loss? Let's see if you should really have that drink...

What is alcohol?

Basically, alcohol is fermented sugar. It has no real nutritional value whatsoever, yet there are 7 calories per gram of alcohol, almost double that of protein and carbs (which are 4 calories per gram).

Consequences of alcohol

Now there are literally SO many harmful consequences from drinking alcohol, that if I listed them here, this post would go on forever. It is well known that alcohol consumption has serious short and long-term side effects; including: loss of coordination, mental impairment, diabetes, liver disease, and possible addiction. But how does it affect the body's ability to lose weight and burn energy?

Calories:

ONE shot of liquor could contain anywhere from 60-100 calories. ONE mixed drink or cocktail could contain over 200 calories, especially with all the added syrups and sugar. ONE glass of wine or beer could contain over 100 calories. Wine and beer both have high carbohydrate content, with beer having the most carbs yet the lowest alcohol content. One to two drinks could easily put you over your calorie goal for the day, and stall or back track your progress.

Additionally, your body will use alcohol as it's preferred fuel source since it cannot be stored. Meaning, when you ingest alcohol, your body must burn off all the alcoholic calories BEFORE it starts to burn calories from the food you eat, thus inhibiting your fat burn. Weight loss is all about burning more calories than you consume, and I don't know about you, but I would definitely rather eat my calories than drink them.

Bad choices:

I think it's safe to say that almost everyone can relate to the "drunk fast food run" at the end of the night, am I right? Alcohol obviously impairs your decision making, and this relaxed thinking could possibly result in more calories consumed, and more body fat gained.

Additionally, alcohol tends to increase appetite since it provides basically no nutritionally value. This lack of motivation and decision making, combined with increased appetite, is a recipe for disaster. You start to crave and consume other foods, especially the fatty, salty, and sweet foods that tend to be at most drinking occasions. Resulting in what? Fat gain.

Damage to vital organs:

Alcohol can damage the stomach lining, and weaken the kidneys and liver. The stomach digests certain foods, and the liver processes toxins and breaks down fat for energy, so with a less than fully functional stomach and liver, maintaining a healthy body composition is difficult. Additionally, the process of breaking down alcohol generates toxins even more harmful than the alcohol itself. These toxins damage liver cells, increase inflammation, and weaken the body's immune system. You are at an increased risk for infection for up to 24 hours after consuming alcohol.

Moreover, because your body will use the alcohol as fuel first before it uses food, this will block the normal fat-burning process in the body, resulting in a fatty liver, and fat buildup in the blood, increasing the risk for heart attacks.

Impairs fat loss:

Alcohol can decrease testosterone's function as a fat burner and as an anabolic hormone. Testosterone contributes to lean muscle mass gain. Lowered testosterone means less muscle gain, which means a lowered metabolic rate. Your metabolic rate is how fast you burn calories or energy. When your metabolic rate is lowered, fat loss is extremely challenging.

Now, the good news:

It has been shown that drinking alcohol can actually increase thermogenesis - the calories burned by digesting and metabolizing food. Your body needs to work harder to break down alcohol, so you will burn calories through just digestion. However, this slight metabolic boost will not make up for the weight gain caused by excessive drinking/eating due to all the reasons listed above.

Moderate alcohol consumption is considered to be one drink per day for women, and two drinks per day for men. One standard drink is 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of liquor.

If you are really trying to lose weight, I would recommend staying away from alcohol all together. However, if you do choose to drink, stay away from beers, and high calorie cocktails. Additionally, lower your calorie intake for the day if you plan on drinking.

Any other questions? Leave them in the comment section below!

- Coach Nat

Works Cited:

Bodybuilding.com. 5 Ways Alcohol Hinders Fat Loss. https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/5-ways-alcohol-hinders-fat-loss.html. Accessed May 23, 2018.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcohol and Public Health. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm. Accessed May 23, 2018.

Livestrong. Alcohol and Fat Burning. https://www.livestrong.com/article/280263-alcohol-fat-burning/. Accessed May 23, 2018.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol's Effects on the Body. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/alcohols-effects-body. Accessed May 23, 2018.

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