Alcohol consumption is a pretty ubiquitous part of life in America. If your not careful, drinking alcohol while trying to lose weight can seriously derail you. It’s not only that the alcohol itself is empty calories, it’s everything that the alcohol does to your body that can make that number on the scale stubbornly refuse to go down, or sometimes even go up. In this post we take a look at how alcohol can impact your attempt to lose weight, so you don’t end up sabotaging yourself and having a meal that looks like this.
Interestingly, according to several studies, alcohol alone doesn’t contribute to weight gain as your body doesn’t process the calories very effectively. So why does it seem so hard to diet and lose weight at the same time?
Alcohol Dehydrates You
Dehydration is really bad for weight loss. Not only is water and hydration critical for the metabolic process, but dehydration from alcohol can also cause the loss of vital minerals like potassium, calcium, and zinc. These minerals impact your body’s metabolic chemical reactions, muscle contractions, and your ability to relax and sleep well.
Alcohol Can Throw off your Metabolism
Because your body can’t store alcohol, it hijacks your entire metabolic system as soon as it hits your stomach. Your stomach immediately starts to remove the alcohol by stopping all other digestion and prioritizing the removal of the toxin from your body. This then causes the other fats, and sugars that are in your body to be stored as fat for later usage. Additionally, the alcohol gets into your blood stream, where it starts to effect your brain by lowering your inhibitions and lowering your heart rate.
Lowered Inhibitions Plus Food = Diet Disaster!
Once the alcohol has lowered your inhibitions it’s only a matter of time before you have to make an eating decision. Studies show that men consume an additional 433 calories on days when they drink and women consume about 300 more. source That’s a a significant amount of calories and more than enough to hinder your progress. The relationship between alcohol and food is a complex one, but if you ask me a meal like this makes a whole lot more sense when I’ve knocked back a few drinks!
Pay Attention to the Mixers – It’s all Empty Calories
The other way alcoholic beverages can seriously derail you is simply by adding significant amount of calories from the drink itself. For example, a shot of vodka contains about 100 calories, but mixing that into a daiquiri mix can suddenly skyrocket that number to well over 500 calories! source The smartest thing to do is to mix your cocktail with a simple fruit juice, or something with little or no calories like soda water. If you are drinking beer, it’s smart to know how many calories each beer you drink contains so you can order appropriately. The key here is to make sure that you factor in the amount of calories you are getting from your alcoholic beverages and include that in your daily consumption totals.
Wrapping It All Up
In putting this together I reviewed quite a bit of research and noted a common theme between all of them. Drinking was absolutely appropriate when trying to lose or maintain weight as long as it was done in moderation. That means 1 – 2 drinks at one sitting and interestingly, drinking at regular intervals. People who refrained from drinking, and then had a heavy amount of drinks in one sitting typically weighed more overall. Taking that into consideration, if you are planning to make an overall lifestyle change it’s critical that you both learn how to drink and eat in moderation and you should be right on track!