Drinking Alcohol and Weight Loss

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, while over three-quarters of the US population drinks alcohol, 13% of the population occasionally consumes more than what is considered “normal” drinking. At the same time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that almost 70% of the US population is either overweight or obese. These high numbers indicate there is an overlap between these two groups. What do you need to know about drinking alcohol and weight loss?

To be clear, I’m not here to lecture on the good and bad about alcohol. I love a good beer a few times a week. Since more than three-quarters of the US population does drink and probably not going to stop anytime soon, I just want to share some facts about drinking while reaching your weight loss goals.

What is the process alcohol goes through once in the body?

Unlike when we consume food, alcohol is primarily absorbed in the stomach and small intestine – 20% and 80%, respectively. Once in your blood stream alcohol journeys right to your liver, the organ that rids poisons like alcohol from the body.

Within the body alcohol is broken down into acetate and acetaldehyde, two toxic metabolic byproducts that signal your body to STOP BURNING FAT! Even more problematic, alcohol produces another by-product, acetyl CoA, which signals the body to MAKE MORE FAT!

It’s about quantity!

The body can only effectively break down and process about 1 ounce (oz) of alcohol per hour. This is equivalent to a shot of hard liquor, a glass of wine, or a bottle/can of beer. This means drinking more than this quantity within an hour, your body stops burning and starts storing fat at an increased rate.

And don’t forget the calories that come along with alcohol. A 12oz bottle of beer can carry over 200 calories and an 8oz glass of wine about 200. What about those mixed drinks? With all the calories from the sugar in the mix and juice, as well as the calories from the alcohol, each drink can contain about 500 calories or more. So, if you’re throwing back a few beers with your buddies, finishing a bottle (or two) of wine with your significant other, or sipping on those mixed drinks at the restaurant or club, the extra calories can add up. This can really mess up a carefully planned-out diet.

What’s the solution?

If you really want to lose weight and get that lean body you always wanted, you must minimize alcohol consumption! If you have no intention of giving up alcohol, then in terms of calories, hard liquor, wine and/or light beer is probably your best bet. However, you should also limit your intake to 1-2 days per week with a maximum of 1-2 drinks per sitting. Your body will thank you on the journey of achieving your weight loss goals.

As mentioned in the beginning of this post, I drink and enjoy it. So don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you have to stop drinking. Hopefully, being educated on how alcohol affects the body and what you can do to keep these affects to a minimum, your weight loss goals will become a reality.

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