Have you ever heard the term “beer belly”? Without getting into detailed science information regarding what the body does with alcohol once you drink it, there are a lot of studies showing that there is a very close link between drinking alcohol (especially with heavy drinkers) and weight gain. According to science, mild to moderate drinkers do not seem to have the problem of packing on extra pounds. So how exactly could drinking beer, wine, liquor, etc. cause you to gain weight?
#1 YOUR LIVER STOPS BREAKING DOWN YOUR FOOD, THUS STORING MORE IT AS FAT
Your liver is the ‘kitchen’ of your body. This is where all foods you eat are broken down for energy. To function properly, your body depends on breaking down calories for the energy it needs.
It is important to note that 1 gram of alcohol has about 7 calories, 1 gram of fat has about 9 calories and 1 gram of carbohydrates or protein has about 4 calories.
In order for us to lose weight, we have to burn these calories for energy. The body does not need alcohol to function. But when we consume it, the body has to deal with it unfortunately. It is more work for the body to break down fats, protein and carbs compared to alcohol. With the consumption of alcohol, the body is quick to use alcohol as a source of energy over fat, protein or carbohydrates.
Also, the body treats alcohol the way it treats poison. Yes poison! It tries to eliminate it as fast as possible out of the body. This means that, while the body is trying to get rid of alcohol from the body, it does not have time to break down the fats, proteins and carbs that you just ate in your last meal. Until most of the alcohol is eliminated does the body find more time to break down necessary fats, proteins and carbs. The unfortunate result of this kind of prioritization is that the body has to store all that fat, protein and carbs for it to focus on eliminating the poison, in this case ‘alcohol’. With the increase of alcohol in the system, comes increase in the stress level of most body organs. This means that the stress hormone, cortisol, will be likely released. With cortisol in the system, these calories will have to be stored in the waistline.
#2 DRINKING INCREASES YOUR APPETITE
Have you ever noticed that people who drink alcohol are always looking for something to eat? Notice that most of the time they are not looking for a bowl of healthy green salads or fruits. They are always snacking on fried and salty foods. This is because in many cases, drinking increases your cravings for unhealthy and calorie dense foods. Also, they tend to eat big plates of food at early morning hours like 3am or 4am. We all know eating late and snacking on unhealthy foods tend to increase your chances of putting on more weight around the stomach and other body parts like the arms and back.
#3 NEGLECTING THE EFFECT OF ALCOHOL ON BRAIN FUNCTION
When you drink alcohol, some of it goes to your brain almost immediately. This affects brain function. A lot of people always say they can still make sound decisions if they stay below a certain limit of drinking alcohol. The fact that alcohol negatively affects brain function means that the level of making sound decisions will be affected at some level. What does this have to do with weight gain? Well, let’s say you are very conscious of the type of food you eat and you always read labels to make sure the food fits your plan. Your ability to decide if a particular food is right for you, is not going to be great when you are ‘under the influence’. So you will tend to eat more unhealthy foods or follow your exercise plan in such a condition which eventually will affect your weight.
Do you think you can still drink alcohol and stay healthy? What are your thoughts?
In my article next week, I will be focusing on some aspect of superfoods. Make sure you read it and give me feedback on what you think about my take on the topic.
WLS, FNS (NASM)