How Does Alcohol Affect Weight Loss?

There are dozens of good reasons to reduce your weight, from lowering the risks of heart disease, cancer, and obesity to feeling confident and comfortable in your own skin. The thing is, nothing is as challenging as attempting to lose that extra weight. The key is to cut back on the calories you consume or burn more calories than you take in. Reducing your alcohol intake is one way to low your calorie intake. And as you may well be aware, alcohol consumption not only affects your productivity at work but also your family responsibilities. 

Alcohol and Weight Gain

If you drink alcohol, whether you gain weight or not varies from one person to another. It depends on factors like what kind of alcohol you drink, how often you drink, how much you drink, and the foods you accompany with your drink.

The fact remains that drinking too much alcohol can make it harder to lose weight and may even lead to weight gain. The good news is that you can still enjoy your favorite drink without sabotaging your weight loss targets.

The most important thing is to understand how alcohol affects your efforts to lose weight so that you can find a healthy balance that ensures your body still burns fat for fuel.

Why Alcohol Is Bad for Your Weight Loss Goals

Empty Calories

Alcohol is high in calories, most of which are empty, meaning they don’t have any nutritional value. Apart from the alcohol itself, common mixers popularly used in many drinks like juice or soda, are also packed with loads of calories, sugars, and carbs. This is a bad combination for anyone trying to shed off some excess fat.

If you’re eating a generally healthy diet but are not seeing the results you want, you may be taking in hundreds of calories daily through your drinks.

Alcohol Slows Your Metabolism

Usually, when you eat food, the food is metabolized and broken down by nutrients and stored or used as energy. With alcohol, things are quite different. You see, the human body cannot store alcohol. Instead, it immediately begins to process the alcohol, setting aside nutrients like carbs, fats, and proteins. The set-aside energy is then stored as fat.

This disruption in the metabolic process slows down metabolism. Over time, with the continued use of alcohol, metabolism slows even further, leading to weight gain.

Alcohol Lowers Your Inhibitions

When you drink, the likelihood of making healthy lifestyle choices is drastically reduced. This means you are more likely to reach for that extra slice of pizza or chicken fingers when drunk than when you’re not.

One study discovered that participants ate about 11 percent more after consuming alcohol compared to people who didn’t drink alcohol. The drinkers also ate almost 25 percent more high-fat foods. This shows that when under the influence, it becomes more difficult to pay attention to what you eat and how you’re eating. 

Alcohol Disrupts Sleep

Alcohol has a direct impact on your ability to sleep and the quality of sleep. A study into the impact of alcohol on sleep among adults found that a low alcohol intake (which is equivalent to 0.25 grams of alcohol per kilogram of the participant’s weight) resulted in a nine percent drop in the quality of sleep. A high intake was even worse, with participants registering up to 39 percent drop in sleep quality.

When you suffer from repeated poor sleep, your body’s metabolic process is disrupted. In addition, staying up late can lead to snacking unnecessarily. All these contribute to weight gain, therefore setting back your weight loss goals.

If you drink, you know how it leaves you feeling the morning after, which also makes you less likely to exercise or be physically active.

Alcohol Affects Sex Hormones

Alcohol has been shown to lower sex hormones in the body, specifically testosterone. This hormone has a role to play in many metabolic processes, such as fat burning and muscle formation. Lower testosterone levels in the body can affect the quality of sleep, which can contribute to weight gain.

Alcohol Affects Digestion

Excess consumption of alcohol inhibits the digestive process due to the stress it causes the stomach and intestines. When this happens, the production of digestive juices is reduced, which eventually leads to poor movement of food and nutrient absorption. 

Tips to Drink Alcohol and Still Achieve Your Weight Loss Goals

Luckily, all is not lost. You can still enjoy your drinks and keep your weight in check. Here are some tips:

  • Limit your drinking to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
  • Control your portion. Switch to a smaller glass that holds minimum drink to make sure you stay within your limits.
  • Try alternate drinks like vodka, whiskey, gin, and brandy, which have less than 100 calories and are also low in sugar.
  • Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Eating while drinking slows down absorption and therefore, the effects of alcohol.

Most importantly, remember to stay hydrated. Drinking lots of water in between your drinks helps to prevent dehydration.

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