Ask: How Does Alcohol Effects Weight Loss

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Question : How Does Alcohol Effects Weight Loss

There has been a lot of conflicting information about alcohol and its role in weight gain. Studies have come out claiming that one glass of wine a day can improve heart health, others have asserted that alcohol of any kind can sabotage even the most dedicated dieter.

While much of the evidence is still up for debate, there are some key things we know for sure about alcohol and its affect on digestion, sleep and our body’s ability to burn fat.

Before we dive in, it’s important to note that alcohol when consumed in moderation is a great way to enjoy a night out, socialize with friends and colleagues and generally lead a balanced life. It is not going to completely sabotage your weight loss efforts if you watch how much you drink and when. But alcohol is not a part of a clean diet, so while it’s not necessarily the enemy, it is important to be aware of its effect on our systems.

Let’s start with the bad news. Alcohol, even if consumed in modest amounts, can prevent the body from burning fat from carbohydrates and fats that we have consumed in our food. If you’re eating a healthy meal full of nutrient rich foods like chicken breast, brown rice and veggies and you have even an ounce of alcohol, your body will immediately break the alcohol down into acetate and burn through it as energy before it starts to break down your meal. The food that isn’t broken down and digested can be stored as fat.

Alcohol loosens our inhibitions, which is part of the fun and certainly a stress reliever, but it also doesn’t help us to stick to our diets or exercise control. When we drink alcohol, we are not as in tune with sensing when our body is full so we are more likely to overeat or indulge. In a study done in the UK, researchers found that those who drank up to two drinks could consume up to 30 per cent more food. Another study out of Denmark determined that if we drink before our meal, we are less likely to feel full and overeat than those who consumed a non-alcoholic beverage before their meal. The bottom line is, we are more likely to give in to our cravings or consume more food when we’re feeling tipsy.

Unfortunately, most alcohol has a high calorie-count. Consider that a margarita can reach over 700 calories and a cosmopolitan over 200 calories – and let’s face it, we rarely stop at one! When you stack the calories per gram up against protein or carbohydrates, alcohol is essentially double the number of calories consumed. Take the sugary mixers and syrups out of the cocktail and you’re still drinking what nutritionists will call “empty calories”. There is no nutritional value in your alcohol, categorizing calories from alcohol as virtually valueless.

Our bodies are beautiful, complex machines that will do everything they can to expel substances that are not conducive to its function. Therefore, when we consume alcohol, our bodies go straight to work trying to expel the alcohol. This leaves less energy to absorb nutrients such as vitamins and minerals and less energy to maintain blood glucose levels, which are an important part of the digestive process. So with alcohol in our system, we are not getting the most from our superfoods and risk missing out on all the benefits of our otherwise healthy choices.

Drinking alcohol has an impact on our sleep by increasing the number of times we wake up during the night and affecting how deep our sleep is in the first place. Because it is altering our digestive process, people often feel mild heartburn in the night, which can disturb sleep.

The final downside to drinking is that it can seriously derail our workouts the next day. One or two glasses of wine the night before hitting the gym can lead to dehydration and fatigue during your sweat session. If you’re going to indulge the night before your workout, try to alternate glasses of water with your booze to stay hydrated. And have your last drink at least one hour before bed to give your body time to sober up before hitting the pillow.

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