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The Effects of Alcohol on Weight Loss

Posted on March 14, 2017 at 10:54 AM by Lia Bahls, RD


A glass of red wine at night is healthy for me, right? While some alcoholic beverages are known for their heart-healthy benefits, having alcohol daily or in excess will cause more harm than good.


When alcohol is consumed, it is broken down into a salt called acetate, which is very acidic, like vinegar. Your body will prioritize this as energy before any other food you’ve consumed. If you’re having a glass of beer with your pizza, the calories from that pizza will most likely become storage because your body is getting the energy it needs from the acetate formed from that beer you drank. If that’s not enough for you to reconsider alcohol consumption while trying to lose weight, studies show that alcohol inhibits oxidation of fats. In other words, it prevents your body from burning fat for a temporary amount of time. So consider that pizza and the high fat toppings it contains. Not only is it high in calories and not being used for energy because you had a beer, but most of it is also going straight to fat. Alcohol also increases cortisol levels (a stress hormone), which promotes fat storage, especially in the midsection.


While alcohol in moderation is acceptable as part of a healthy diet, you still need to be aware of the calories consumed from your beverage and count them into your daily total. A 5-ounce glass of wine has about 150 calories, while a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor or 12 ounces of light beer provides about 100 calories. Let’s not forget those extra calories consumed while drinking. Few people make healthy food choices when consuming alcohol. Multiple nights a week of drinking and overconsumption of unhealthy foods can lead to rapid weight gain and the prevention of weight loss.


Other thoughts to consider: 


I’ve worked out so it’s okay to have a few drinks, right?

 Working out drains the body of glycogen stores (carbohydrates that are stored in the liver and muscle) and leaves your muscle tissue in need of repair. Skipping protein and choosing to drink an alcoholic beverage will slow down the storage of glycogen and prevent muscles from getting the proper nutrients for repair. 


At least alcohol allows for a good night sleep, correct?

It may seem like it, but alcohol can actually lead to decreased sleep duration and disrupted sleep cycles. This leads to waking up drowsy and sometimes irritable. While a drink every once in awhile is fine, night after night of imbibing can lead to sleep deprivation. This can also lead to a reduction in the human growth hormone, which is needed for building muscle and bone. A lack of sleep is also associated with weight gain.


For more information about weight loss or weight management, visit our website or attend one of our free informational sessions.

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