Alcohol and Your Weight

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After ringing in the new year with a champagne toast, let’s get the skinny on alcohol. Drinking too much leads to high blood pressure, insulin resistance and a host of diseases. Yet having a glass of red wine can be beneficial. The compounds in red wine have disease-fighting and anti-aging properties.  Drinking red wine in moderation can boost gut, brain and heart health.

For those of us who drink, how much we drink is key. A moderate amount for women is thought to be one glass a day, while two a day is moderate for men. It is possible to maintain a healthy weight while drinking alcohol. But if you are struggling with your weight, avoiding alcohol can make all the difference. Here are all the reasons why.


How Alcohol Affects Your Weight

While many people think that alcohol calories don’t count, that is not the case. Alcohol is high in calories and so are most mixers. One fancy drink can have as many calories as a meal. Did you know that a pint of lager can have as many calories as a slice of pizza? Believe it or not, your frozen margarita might have as many calories as a cheeseburger!

Not only does alcohol have lots of calories but in many cases those are empty calories. Instead of ingesting very little or no nutrients, you could have a healthy filling meal.

Alcohol can have lots of empty calories and it also stimulates your appetite. When your body takes in empty calories, it searches for the nutrients it expected but did not receive. This affects your hormones and triggers hunger signals.

Not only can alcohol make you feel hungry, but it also lowers your inhibitions. This can lead to two issues: excessive eating and drinking, and poor food choices.

When you have a drink, your body burns off the alcohol first because it cannot be stored. The calories from your previous meal are subsequently stored as fat.

Alcohol interferes with how efficiently your body burns fat. Hormones, including testosterone, are affected by alcohol consumption. This can harm your capacity for burning fat and forming muscle.

Your digestive system has to work extra hard to get rid of the alcohol you consume. This leads to poor digestion, and you may not absorb as many nutrients from your diet. Extra stress is put on your intestines, stomach and organs when you drink.

Drinking too much can have a negative effect on your organs, particularly the liver. The liver’s job is to filter foreign substances from your body. If you develop alcoholic fatty liver, your body has a hard time metabolizing carbs and fats. This makes weight loss very difficult.

Alcohol can cause excess belly fat, particularly in men which is why many men are said to have “beer bellies.”  

Alcohol consumption not only causes belly fat, but it can also affect your sleep. You’re likely to wake up a lot and feel less rested in the morning after drinking. Your hormones which control satiety, hunger and energy storage can become unbalanced.

Drinking alcohol affects your mindset, as well as your sleep. You are much less likely to have the motivation and energy to be active or productive, to workout or to eat right after drinking.


Tips for Managing Your Weight

If you want to maintain or lose weight while still drinking in moderation, here are some tips. Try drinking only on the weekend or on certain days. If you are following a diet, make sure you include all drink calories in your daily count. Use a smaller glass (or shorter pour). Alternate your alcoholic beverages with a tall glass of water.

Avoid drinking on an empty stomach.  Veggies, fruit, popcorn and hummus are all good accompaniments.  Having food in your stomach helps you absorb the alcohol more slowly. This might help you make better choices. 

Switch to red wine. It is thought to be the healthiest choice and has anti-aging properties.  

If you are struggling to maintain a healthy weight, cutting out alcohol may be your answer. You are 30 percent less likely to become overweight if you don’t drink, or are a light to moderate drinker. Alcohol can contain lots of empty calories, makes you hungry and leads to poor food choices.  Alcohol also impacts your digestion, fat burning capacity, mindset and sleep. When it comes to weight loss and good health, avocado toast trumps tequila shots any night of the week!

Betterhealth.vic.gov.au; www.health.com; healthline.com; newstoday.com; medlineplus.gov; theguardian.com

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