When people think about weight loss, what probably come to mind are exercise and eating nutritious, low-fat foods. Though exercise and diet play a massive part in determining whether or not you’ll lose weight, other factors are important as well. For example, alcohol can derail an attempt to lose weight. While it’s not necessary to stop drinking entirely, it’s important to be aware of how alcohol consumption can affect weight loss. Here are eleven relevant facts concerning alcohol and weight loss.
- Alcohol is nothing but empty calories. Despite its high calorie content, alcohol has essentially no nutritional value. Unlike foods or drinks rich in carbohydrates, protein, minerals, or vitamins, alcohol doesn’t supply your body with anything it needs to function properly — so to get real nutrition, you’ll still have to eat other foods.
- It’s easy to consume a lot of calories. Alcohol goes down easily and, for many people, the more they drink, the easier it becomes to indulge further. Since, unlike most foods, alcohol doesn’t make you feel full, you probably won’t realize how many calories you’ve consumed.
- Alcohol disrupts normal digestion. The body does not process alcohol very well. When you drink, your digestive system uses all of its resources to deal with the alcohol. This means that carbohydrates and fats cannot be broken down in the normal fashion, and are instead converted directly into body fat.
- Alcohol slows the depletion of fat stores. To lose weight, you must burn up the fat on your body. Since alcohol is always used as energy before other fuel sources, drinking makes getting rid of fat more difficult. While alcohol doesn’t prevent fat from being used as fuel, it does delay the process.
- Immoderate drinking is associated with obesity. While each individual is different, researchers have discovered that consuming more than two drinks in a day for men (or one drink for a woman) is statistically connected with being overweight.
- Alcohol makes you more likely to eat poorly. Losing weight is all about self-discipline. If you can’t stop yourself from consuming unhealthy foods, shedding excess pounds will be impossible. Unfortunately, alcohol lowers inhibitions. Consume a drink or two and your resolve to eat nutritiously may melt away.
- Alcohol increases appetite. By stimulating the appetite, alcohol makes overeating more likely. Studies have found that people who drink with their meals tend to eat more. To make matters worse, the increased appetite oftentimes manifests as a craving for salty, high-fat foods.
- Hangovers are the enemy of weight loss. Drinking excessively will lead to misery the next day. In a hangover state, eating well is highly unlikely — most people will want to indulge in fat-filled, unhealthy foods. Hangovers also make exercise almost impossible.
- Water can make moderation easier. One of the big problems with alcohol is that it doesn’t fill you up — so you’re more likely to both eat and drink too much. Simply sipping on water as you drink can mitigate these effects. The liquid will fill up your stomach, making you feel satiated.
- Wine is usually a better option than beer. Since wine contains a higher percentage of alcohol than beer, a glass of wine has significantly fewer calories than a can of beer (the exception being lite beers). By volume, you’ll probably drink less wine than beer, resulting in fewer calories consumed.
- Cocktails are generally terrible choices. Beer might be worse than wine, but most cocktails and mixed drinks are worse still. For example, many drinks contain soda pop, which is laden with sugar and artificial preservatives. Most other popular cocktail ingredients — such as fruit juice or Irish cream — are also high-calorie and filled with unhealthy substances.
Clearly, alcohol is a barrier to losing weight. Still, while drinking won’t make dropping the pounds any easier, it doesn’t make weight loss impossible, either. If you really enjoy alcohol, go ahead and drink – just be sure to do so moderately, so you’ll avoid the most damaging weight-related affects of alcohol.