Drinking alcohol is a favorite pastime for humans, both socially and culturally.
Alcohol also plays a significant role in weight management. Anyone looking to drop those final stubborn pounds may want to consider skipping their evening glass of wine.
Here are eight ways alcohol can impede your weight loss and what you should drink instead.
Alcohol is often “empty” calories – alcoholic drinks are often referred to as “empty” calories. This means that they provide your body with calories but contain little nutrients.
There are almost 155 calories and up to 5 or more carbs (depending on the beer) in one 12- ounce can of beer, and 125 calories and up to 5 or more carbs(depending on the wine) in a 5 ounce glass of red wine.
Drinks that have mixers, such as fruit juice or soda, contain even more calories and carbs.
Alcohol is used as a primary source of fuel – there are also other elements that can cause weight gain outside of calorie content.
When alcohol is consumed, it is burned first as a fuel source before your body uses anything else. This includes glucose from carbohydrates or lipids from fats.
When your body is using alcohol as a primary source of energy, the excess glucose, and lipids end up, unfortunately for us, as adipose tissue, or fat.
Alcohol can affect your organs – the primary role of your liver is to act as the “filter” for any foreign substances that enter your body, such as drugs and alcohol. The liver also plays a role in a metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.
Excess alcohol consumption can lead to what is known as alcoholic fatty liver.
This condition can damage your liver, affecting the way your body metabolizes and stores carbohydrates and fats.
Changes in the way your body stores energy from food can make it difficult to lose weight.
Alcohol can contribute to excess belly fat – the “beer gut” is not a myth.
Foods high in simple sugars, such as those found in candy, soda, and even beer, are also high in calories. Extra calories end up stored as fat in the body.
Consuming foods and drinks high in sugar can quickly lead to weight gain.
We cannot choose where all that extra weight ends up. But the body tends to accumulate fat in the abdominal area.
Alcohol affects judgment call…. especially with food – even the most diehard diet fan will have a tough time fighting the urge to dig in when intoxicated.
Alcohol lowers inhibitions and can lead to poor decision-making in the heat of the moment – especially when it comes to food choices.
However, the effects of alcohol surpass even social drinking etiquette.
Alcohol can trigger hunger signals in the brain, leading to an increased urge to eat more food.
Alcohol and hormones – alcohol intake can affect levels of hormones in the body, especially testosterone.
Testosterone is a hormone that plays a role in many metabolic processes, including muscle formation and fat burning capabilities.
Low testosterone levels may predict the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in men. Metabolic syndrome is characterized by high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, and high body mass index (BMI).
Lower testosterone levels may affect quality of sleep as well.
Alcohol can negatively affect your sleep – a nightcap before bed may sound like a ticket to a good night’s rest but you may want to reconsider.
Alcohol can lead to increased periods of wakefulness during sleep cycles.
Sleep deprivation, whether from lack of sleep or impaired sleep, can lead to an imbalance in the hormones related to hunger, satiety, and energy storage.
Alcohol affects digestion and nutrient uptake – your social anxiety is not the only thing that alcohol inhibits. Intake of alcoholic beverages can also inhibit proper digestive function.
Alcohol can cause stress on the stomach and the intestines. This leads to digestive secretions and movement of food through the tract.
Digestive secretions are an essential element of healthy digestion. They break down food into the basic macro and micronutrients that are absorbed and used by the body.
Alcohol intake of all levels can lead to impaired digestion and absorption of these nutrients. This can affect the metabolism of organs that play a role in weigh management.
Best alcoholic drinks for weight loss
This may all sound as if alcohol is ruining your chances of that beach body. But fear not- watching your weight does not necessarily mean having to cut alcohol entirely out of your diet.
Rather than reaching for drinks high in sugar or calories, enjoy some of these 100 calorie options instead:
Vodka – 100 calories and zero carbs in 1.5 ounces of distilled 80 proof vodka
Alternative cocktail: choose low calorie mixers such as club soda and avoid overly sugary juices
Whiskey – 100 calories and zero carbs in 1.5 ounces of 86 proof whiskey
Alternative cocktail: ditch the soda or use diet soda and take your whiskey on the rocks for a low calorie alternative.
Gin – 115 calories and zero carbs in 1.5 ounces of 90 proof gin
Alternative cocktail: aim for something simple, such as a martini – and do not skip the olives, they contain beneficial antioxidants such as vitamin E.
Tequila – 100 calories and zero carbs in 1.5 ounces of tequila
Alternative cocktail: the best part about tequila is the customary tequila “shot” is just salt, tequila, and lime. Skip the margaritas!
While cutting alcohol completely out of your diet is not necessarily the only way to lose weight, there are many improvements that can be made in your health journey by simple cutting back on the alcohol.
You can enjoy a healthier body, improved sleep, better digestion, and fewer of those excess “empty” calories.
And if you do plan to drink, enjoy a vodka or whiskey on the rocks – and skip the soda!
Whenever in doubt check www.getdrunknotfat.com to find out the calories and carbs in your alcohol of choice.
Request and appointment by texting 850-629-0345 or call our office today at 850-309-0356.