Alcohol is ingrained in many aspects of our culture. It appears in most social settings and is a large part of the culinary experience. But excess alcohol consumption can interfere with weight loss goals. Studies have not pinned down a consistent reason that alcohol consumption affects weight gain, but they all agree that drinking a high amount of alcohol can contribute to it.
10 Ways Alcohol Affects Weight Loss
- Many types of alcohol are high in calories, including the mixers that are often in them.
- Alcoholic beverages are often referred to as “empty” calories, which means they provide your body with calories, but have no nutritional value.
- They can be an extra calorie intake that people don’t realize they are consuming or forget to factor into their daily calorie goals.
- Alcohol can affect organs, like your liver. The liver acts as a “filter” for foreign substances that enter your body, like drugs and alcohol. Excess consumption can lead to a condition called alcoholic fatty liver, which affects the way your liver metabolizes and stores carbohydrates and fats. This can make it very difficult to lose weight.
- Alcohol can lower inhibitions, making it easier to make poor decisions when it comes to food choices while intoxicated.
- Alcohol consumption contributes to excess belly fat. Since simple sugars are found in beer, consuming a large amount can lead to weight gain and fat storage in the abdominal area.
- Alcohol intake can affect hormone levels, especially testosterone. Testosterone is an important hormone that affects many metabolic processes like muscle formation and fat burning capabilities.
- Alcohol can negatively affect your sleep, which can lead to an imbalance of hormones related to hunger, energy storage and satiety.
- Alcohol can cause stress to the stomach and intestines, decreasing digestion and movement of food through your organs. This can affect metabolism in organs that play a role in weight management.
- When alcohol is consumed, it is burned first by the body. When your body uses alcohol as its primary source of energy, the excess glucose and lipids end up as fat.
Tips for Limiting Alcohol Consumption
Cutting alcohol completely out isn’t the only way to lose weight. Simply cutting back can help you achieve your weight loss goals. Some tips include:
- Setting a limit on drinking. Moderate drinking is defined by one drink a day for women, and two drinks a day for men.
- Using a smaller glass. Portion control is important when it comes to maintaining your weight with food. It also makes a difference when used with beverages.
- Choosing wine or low alcohol beers. Regular beer and mixed drinks tend to be high in calories.
- Alternating alcoholic beverages with water. By doing this you can consume less alcohol over the course of one period.
- Trying to have a few alcohol-free days per week. By choosing not to drink on certain days, you can avoid excess consumption of “empty” calories.
- Avoiding drinking on an empty stomach. This can intensify the effects of alcohol. Eating while drinking can slow the effects and maintain impulse control.
- Knowing the caloric content of the drink. If you learn how many calories a beverage has, you can factor it into your weight loss goals.
- Choosing alcohol that is low in calories. Beverages like vodka, whiskey, gin, tequila, and brandy are only 100 calories per 1.5 ounces and are the best options to choose for weight loss.
Cutting down on alcohol or not drinking at all might not achieve weight loss immediately, but it is a good first step. If you have tried losing weight from diet and exercise, even cutting back on alcohol, and you aren’t seeing the results you want, bariatric surgery might be for you. Contact Advanced Laparoscopic Associates to schedule a consultation today.