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Alcohol and Weight Loss: The Connection You Can't Ignore

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alcohol, weight loss, beer, wine, spirits, how to drink for best weight loss results, moderation in alcohol consumption

Drinking alcohol is often a normal and expected part of social situations and daily life, whether it be for relaxation, socialization, or as a way to unwind after a long day. However, it is crucial to be aware of the potential impact that alcohol can have on your health and weight loss efforts.

Article At-A-Glance

  • The COVID-19 pandemic changed drinking habits and impacted health
  • A review of the pros and cons of drinking alcohol, and the need for moderation
  • How drinking alcohol can cause weigh gain, and what to do about it
  • The most common misconception that some alcoholic drinks are better than others
  • A list of five other effects of drinking alcohol on your health

As some who personally enjoys a beer or two, I wanted to create the blog resource for others interested in learning more about the relationship between alcohol and maintaining healthy weight. This serves as a reminder for me and a helpful source of information for those seeking guidance on drinking alcohol. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic starting in 2020, many people began drinking more frequently due to stress, being home every day and the convenience of same-day delivery service. In addition, the lack of physical activity and increased snacking while at home all contributed to an increase in weight.

A 2021 poll by the American Psychological Association found that 42% of US adults who responded reported gaining more weight than intended since the start of the pandemic. The average weight gain among this group was 29 pounds, with 10% reporting gaining more than 50 pounds during the pandemic.

As time has passed, more people are becoming aware of what was happening to their health, and they started to get focus more on the importance of a healthy diet and lifestyle. This is one of the reason that the Feel Great System gained such popularity in the past two years, because it offered a straightforward science-backed solution for improving health and well-being, without making false promises.

Health: Pros and Cons of Alcohol

Alcohol is a psychoactive substance found in beverages such as beer, wine, and spirits. It provides some energy when metabolized by the body, but is not necessary for good health and can be harmful when consumed excessively. As a toxin, it is important to use caution and understand the proper uses and limits of alcohol. The effects of alcohol on health can vary depending on the type consumed.

Moderate consumption of wine (up to one glass per day for women and two for men) may reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers, but excessive consumption can increase the risk of liver damage, high blood pressure, and certain cancers.

Moderate consumption of beer and craft beer may also reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, but excessive consumption can increase the risk of liver damage, high blood pressure, and certain cancers. Hard liquor, such as vodka, whiskey, and rum, generally have higher alcohol concentrations and carry greater health risks, including an increased risk of liver damage, high blood pressure, and certain cancers when consumed excessively.

It is important to remember that the potential health benefits of alcohol are only seen with moderate consumption and excessive consumption can have serious negative impacts on health, including addiction.

Alcohol and Weight Gain

Drinking alcohol can contribute to weight gain in several ways.

  1. Empty Calories: Alcoholic beverages can be a source of empty calories, which are calories that provide little to no nutritional value. These calories can add up quickly, especially if you are consuming alcohol in addition to your regular meals and while eating other foods. Low carb alcoholic drinks may have fewer carbs than other alcoholic drinks, but they can still contain empty calories from alcohol and added ingredients such as sweeteners. It's important to pay attention to serving sizes and the calorie content of your drinks, especially if you are trying to lose or maintain your weight. Keep in mind that low carb alcoholic drinks may still affect blood sugar levels and may not be suitable for those with certain medical conditions like diabetes.
  2. Food Inhibitions: Alcohol can affect your appetite and eating habits. It can stimulate your appetite and lead you to eat more than you would otherwise, especially if you are drinking while socializing or eating out. Alcohol can also lower your inhibitions, which may lead you to make less healthy decisions on food choices.
  3. Metabolism: When you drink alcohol, it can affect your metabolism and make it harder to lose weight. Your body will burn the alcohol first before it starts burning fat. Additionally, alcohol can interfere with the way your body processes glucose, which can lead to more fat being stored.

Beer and Weight Gain

While all types of alcohol can contribute to weight gain, beer, especially craft beer, can be particularly problematic due to its high calorie and carbohydrate content. A standard serving of beer (12 ounces) contains about 150 calories, while craft beer can contain anywhere from 150 to 300 calories per serving.

In comparison, a standard serving of wine (5 ounces) contains about 120 calories, and a serving of hard liquor (1.5 ounces) contains about 100 calories. It is important to be aware of the calorie and carbohydrate content of craft beer, and to consume it in moderation as part of a healthy lifestyle that includes balanced meals.

If you are trying to watch your weight or maintain a healthy weight, consider low-calorie, low-carb options and be mindful of your craft beer intake. 

The Misconceptions: Some Drinks Better Than Others

I have to admit, that I believe this common misconception that certain types of alcohol, like dry white wine or neat liquor, do not cause weight gain like beer does. However, all types of alcohol are metabolized in the same way. When alcohol is consumed with food, it can lead to the storage of carbs and fats in fat cells. Some alcoholic beverages, like beer and wine, also contain carbohydrates, which can contribute to weight gain. It is important to understand that flavor may come at a cost when it comes to alcohol consumption.

Other Effects of Alcohol

  • Dehydration: Regular alcohol consumption can lead to dehydration, as alcohol causes the body to lose fluids. As you continue to drink, you become more and more dehydrated. This loss of water can affect the entire body, including the brain, which can cause a headache upon waking up the next morning
  • Absorption of Nutrients: Alcohol reduces the body’s ability to absorb and assimilate vitamins such as Vit A, folate, B12 and thiamin. Excess alcohol intake will even prevent liver cells from processing vitamin D. Many drinkers are found to have a vitamin D deficiency.
  • Tolerance to Alcohol: Prolonged, regular alcohol consumption can lead to the development of physical tolerance. The liver becomes more efficient at breaking down alcohol and certain brain cells may become less sensitive to its effects. As a result, more alcohol may be needed to produce the same effects as in the past.
  • Decrease your testosterone levels: Moderate alcohol consumption (1-2 drinks per occasion) will not significantly decrease testosterone production. However, consuming more than 3 drinks in a single sitting can temporarily decrease testosterone by 6.5-20%. Testosterone is important for building lean muscle mass and reducing body fat. Repeated heavy alcohol consumption can lead to a range of health problems, including damage to the intestines, stomach lining, and liver, as well as problems with nutrient intake.

If you do not consume alcohol, you may still have found something useful in this article. You may even be able to share this knowledge with friends, family, or coworkers the next time the topic comes up in conversation.

Even if you choose to drink alcohol, you do not have to give up your favorite alcoholic beverages during your weight loss journey. Understanding how alcohol is metabolized can help you feel confident and make informed decisions about your alcohol consumption.

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