As I sit here feeling very sorry for myself a little hungover after only five drinks last night it reminds me why I choose not to drink much anymore.
Living in Australia drinking is a part of everyday life, whether that be to catch up for a beer at the pub after a long week of work or to meet with girlfriends over a wine to gossip. There is nothing wrong with that, and I'm definitely not here to burst your bubble. I always say everything in moderation its important to have balance.
So what happens when you drink alcohol on a more regular basis? and how does that effect your weightloss goals?
First of all alcohol is referred to as empty calories meaning calories with no nutritional value. Alcohol in its purest form is a whopping 7 calories per gram. What makes things worse is that alcohol is the first fuel to be used before proteins, fats and carbohydrates which postpones the fat burning process and increases fat storage. So while there is alcohol in your system your body will not burn fat which can be anywhere up to 72hrs after alcohol consumption has stopped.
Until all of the alcohol has been metabolised your body will store food consumed around the times you drink alcohol, which is bad news if you think about what you crave when you drink, anything salty and or fatty. Alcohol also stimulates your appetite because of the lack of nutrition that the alcohol provides.
On top of that we haven't even considered the extra calories and carbohydrates in cocktails, beer, wine and mixers. Some cocktails contain high levels of fat and beer, wine and mixers such as juices or soft drink contain carbohydrates. Carbohydrates make the body release insulin which increases fat storage adding even more body fat.
Alcohol can damage the liver, stomach and kidneys. Alcohol irritates the lining of the stomach and gradually weakening the liver and kidney which lessens the efficiency and rate in which food is digested. Poor digestion will interfere with metabolism and weight loss.
Alcohol lowers testosterone levels when consumed. Testosterone is the muscle building hormone remember less muscle mass means a lower metabolic rate which makes fat burn much harder. Those with a higher metabolic rate find it much easier to burn fat.
So how is alcohol processed in the body?
After your first alcoholic drink 25% of the alcohol is absorbed by the stomach and goes straight into the blood stream, the remainder is taken through the small intestines. The absorption rate can differ depending on the following factors;
- The amount of food in the stomach (a full stomach slows the rate)
- Whether the drink is carbonated (carbonated drinks such as champagne are absorbed much quicker)
- The alcohol content of the drink (higher alcoholic drinnks are absorbed faster)
Around 90-98% of alcohol is processed in the liver with the rest being expelled through urine, sweat and breathing. The amount of alcohol in one standard drink will generally take around 10 hours to process.
So with all that being said its still not going to stop you, but lets look at what are the better choices.
- You want to drink alcohol with a lower caloric value, and a higher alcohol percentage (like wine) which means less will be consumed meaning lower overall calorific consumption.
- Avoid high calorofic liquers (Baileys for example)
- Keep healthy food on hand while drinking. Remember you will store what you eat around the times you are drinking.
- When drinking beer try a low calorie alternative.
- Drink water in between drinks. This can encourage a feeling of fullness and hopefully slow down over-consumption.
As you can see drinking alcohol every now and then is not a problem but when weightloss is your goal alcohol can really negate all your efforts. Its best to almost cut out alcohol until you are at a level of health and fitness you are happy with.
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