5 Truths about Alcohol and Weight Loss
Updated: Feb 14
When it comes to weight loss, we all know that the way to achieve it is by creating a caloric deficit. That is, that the calories you ingest are less than the calories your body uses.
The weight loss industry has excelled at telling you what to eat and making you buy their products.
But I've never seen a 'diet' range in the spirits aisle of the supermarket, have you? Yes, they may have alcohol-free drinks, but that doesn't mean they are free of calories. These alcohol-free versions are most likely loaded with sugar, additives and preservatives.
When going on a diet, you probably only think of your food intake.
But, if you drink alcohol regularly and you see little or no results at all, reducing your alcohol consumption, or doing without it altogether, will have the biggest impact on your weight loss!
In addition to how much you drink, you must also bear in mind how often you drink and what you eat when you drink since all these factors impact your weight loss. Little do you know those small shots that keep on rolling every Friday night are a big reason your weight loss plans don't work! So here you are 5 reasons to reconsider your alcohol intake.
1.- Caloric content
The number one reason alcohol affects your weight is simply that it has an enormous amount of calories concentrated in a small amount of drink. As a matter of fact, 2 double shots of vodka (equal to 100 ml or 94 g) contain 216 calories, while 100 grams of cooked rice contains 130.
In the table below I have gathered some common pub rounds to compare them with a couple of regular food items.
I don't know about you, but me, instead of the 870 cal of 2 ciders and 2 Sambuca's, I'd certainly rather have a nice vegetable Jerk rice and treat myself to maybe a homemade banana custard!
2.- Empty calories
And the worst thing is not the high caloric content of alcohol. The worst thing is that these calories are empty calories. This means that you are consuming calories and getting no actual nutrition whatsoever from them.
These empty calories you consume, your liver transforms into fat that is then delivered to your blood, organs and fatty tissue. And if you don't burn it off, it will remain stored in your body.
But it also happens that calories from alcohol take longer to burn! Basically, when you consume alcohol it's broken down into acetates, which your body requires a longer time to breakdown as compared to other molecules.
3.- Hunger awareness
Another reason why alcohol consumption is bad for your ideal waistline is that drinking can lower your inhibitions and sense of awareness, leading to the mindless consumption of very large amounts of food.
When you are sober, you probably know when to stop eating but, when you've had one too many, your perception of what's going on around you, and also the perception of your own body, are distorted. So you end up eating even when you are not really hungry because the numbing effect of alcohol prevents you from perceiving whether your stomach is asking for food or not.
Alcohol actually causes dehydration and, even if you think you are hungry, it could just be that your body is asking for water, not food.
If you want to discover what emotion drives your overeating,
take my Type of Eater Quiz
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4.- Carb cravings
Now, be honest, please. Which take away did you pick up last time you left the pub tipsy? Who hasn't gone on a binge after a night out drinking, or gone for a kebab with chips or a large pizza for one?
Drinking so happens to stimulate your appetite by depleting your carbohydrate storage, which makes your body crave food like pizza, burgers, tacos, etc. As if the empty calories of alcohol were not enough, now you have to keep them company with more high-calorie junk food.
5.- Slower metabolism
Exercise might be the last thing in your mind on a regular day but, let me tell you, it's mission impossible after a night out! If you are getting drowned in alcohol one night, then you will most likely not have energy the next day, let alone work out. You will be living the day after stuck to that bed of yours.
You may not know this but, apart from not being in the mood to burn off the unnecessary excess calories all that alcohol provided you with, your body now focuses less on burning fat and more on breaking down the alcohol you drink, which your body is converting into more fat.
Also, drinking happens to lower down your testosterone levels, a hormone that helps to gain lean muscle and therefore burn fat.
There are various reasons why you may consume alcohol. You may drink socially to fit in, you may like the taste or maybe you've just acquired the habit of relaxing with a glass. Alcohol, taken in moderation, is not necessarily a bad if you are healthy.
But, when consumed in large amounts, it can affect your health and your weight. With alcohol, always remember that you could be enjoying a decent meal for the equivalent empty calories of a couple of pints and a couple of shots.
With the empty calories of alcohol you are still going to feel hungry and want to eat afterwards. And you are more likely to overeat because it has stimulated your hunger hormones. And to top it all up, it slows down your metabolism.
Take my Type of Eater Quiz
and receive personalised tips based on your results.
Alcohol is definitely a big part of our lives, and while you may not want nor need to cut it out completely, it is your daily habits that count. Once you consider the pros and cons and how it impacts your weight loss efforts, you will be able to make better choices for yourself.