Drinking alcohol is a favorite pastime for humans, both socially and culturally.
One explanation, of course, is that alcohol relaxes us and makes us more confident in social situations. Anxiety dissipates. Our charms seem to sparkle more brightly.
We enjoy the heady sensation of being what we think is our most attractive self so we keep coming back for more.
Alcohol, we believe, makes every social situation better.
Another explanation is that we have an enzyme that allows us to break down alcohols in over-ripe fruit to access the sugars they contain.
But there’s more to alcohol than just hedonistic pleasures and nutrients.
We like to consume alcohol in social situations because alcohol triggers the brain’s endorphin system.
Endorphins are opioid neurotransmitters that form part of the brain’s pain management system.
Weight for weight, endorphins are 30 times more effective as pain killers than morphine.
The information that follows is summarized from Healthline.
Alcohol has a large part to play in weight gain.
While alcohol has a large part to play in the relief of social anxiety and pain management, and other studies suggest that alcohol can even have health benefits, the bottom line is that alcohol plays a large role in weight management.
When you’re looking to shed those stubborn pounds, understanding alcohol’s impact can help you make wiser choices.
Alcohol delivers “empty” calories.
Alcoholic drinks are often referred to as containing “empty” calories. This means that they provide your body with calories, in the way of sugar, but are devoid of nutrition.
There are almost 155 calories in one 12-ounce can of beer, and 125 calories in a 5-ounce glass of red wine. A night out with several drinks can lead to consuming a few hundred extra sugar laden calories.
Drinks that have mixers, such as fruit juice or soda, contain even more empty calories due to their higher sugar content.
Your body preferentially uses alcohol as a primary source of fuel.
There are also other elements that can cause weight gain outside of calorie content.
When alcohol is consumed, it’s burned first as a fuel source before your body uses anything else. This includes glucose from carbohydrates or lipids from fats.
When your body is using alcohol as a primary source of energy, excess glucose and lipids end up as fat stores on your body.
Alcohol contributes to excess belly fat.
The “beer belly” description of a bulging stomach isn’t just a myth.
Foods high in simple sugars, such as those found in candy, soda, and beer, are also high in calories. We know where those extra calories end up —in fat storage!
So it’s easy to see how consuming foods and drinks high in sugar can quickly lead to weight gain.
Unfortunately, we can’t choose where all that extra weight ends up. But the body tends to favor accumulating fat in the abdominal area.
According to Harvard Health Publishing:
Scientists are also learning that visceral fat pumps out immune system chemicals called cytokines — for example, tumor necrosis factor and interleukin-6 — that can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. These and other biochemicals are thought to have deleterious effects on cells’ sensitivity to insulin, blood pressure, and blood clotting.
One reason excess visceral fat is so harmful could be its location near the portal vein, which carries blood from the intestinal area to the liver. Substances released by visceral fat, including free fatty acids, enter the portal vein and travel to the liver, where they can influence the production of blood lipids. Visceral fat is directly linked with higher total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower HDL (good) cholesterol, and insulin resistance.
Alcohol affects your judgment, especially when it comes to food.
Even the most committed weight loss client will have a hard time fighting the urge to eat off plan when consuming alcohol.
Alcohol lowers inhibitions, plain and simple. It can lead to poor decision-making in the heat of the moment — especially when it comes to food choices.
A recent animal study found that mice given ethanol over a period of three days demonstrated a significant increase in food intake. This study suggests that alcohol can actually trigger hunger signals in the brain, leading to an increased urge to eat more food.
Alcohol can affect your organs negatively.
The primary role of your liver is to act as the “filter” for any foreign/toxic substances that enter your body. This includes substances such as drugs and alcohol. Your liver also plays a role in the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.
Excess alcohol consumption can lead to what is known as alcoholic fatty liver disease.
This condition can damage your liver, affecting the way your body metabolizes and stores carbohydrates and fats.
Changes in the way your body stores energy from food can make it very difficult to lose weight.
Alcohol effects sex hormones.
It’s long been known that alcohol intake can affect levels of hormones in the body, especially testosterone.
Testosterone is a sex hormone that plays a role in many metabolic processes, including muscle formation and fat burning capabilities.
Plus, lower testosterone levels may affect quality of sleep .
Testosterone is essential for contributing to a woman’s sexual well-being by boosting libido and supporting reproductive health. In addition to that, testosterone is also necessary for the development of new blood cells. Without enough testosterone, women may experience fatigue, muscle weakness, and mood changes.
Alcohol can negatively affect your quality of sleep.
A nightcap at the end of the evening may sound like a ticket to a good night’s sleep, but you may want to reconsider.
Research suggests that alcohol can lead to increased periods of wakefulness during sleep cycles.
Sleep deprivation, whether from lack of sleep or impaired sleep, can lead to an imbalance in the hormones related to hunger, satiety, and energy storage.
Alcohol affects digestion and nutrient uptake.
Your social anxiety isn’t the only thing that alcohol inhibits. Intake of alcoholic beverages can also inhibit proper digestive function.
Alcohol can cause stress on the stomach and the intestines. This leads to decreased digestive secretions and movement of food through your digestive tract.
Digestive secretions are an essential element of healthy digestion. They break down food into the basic macro- and micro-nutrients that are absorbed and used by your body.
Alcohol intake at all levels can lead to impaired digestion and absorption of vital nutrients. This can greatly affect the metabolism of organs that play a role in weight management
Best alcoholic drinks for weight loss.
Managing your weight doesn’t necessarily mean cutting alcohol entirely out of your diet. Developing an Alcohol Plan as part of your food Exceptions Plan is a realistic approach to including alcohol in your master Food Plan.
Rather than reaching for drinks high in sugar or calories, you might consider some of these 100-calorie options instead:
Calories: 100 calories in 1.5 ounces of distilled 80-proof vodka
Alternative cocktail: Choose low-calories mixers such as club soda and avoid overly sugary juices.
Calories: 100 calories in 1.5 ounces of 86-proof whiskey
Alternative cocktail: Ditch the cola and take your whiskey on the rocks for a low-calorie alternative.
Calories: 115 calories in 1.5 ounces of 90-proof gin
Alternative cocktail: Aim for something simple, such as a martini — and don’t skip the olives, they contain beneficial antioxidants such as vitamin E.
Calories: 100 calories in 1.5 ounces of tequila
Alternative cocktail: The best part about tequila is that the customary tequila “shot” is just salt, tequila, and lime.
Calories: 100 calories in 1.5 ounces of brandy
Alternative cocktail: This drink is best served as an after-dinner digestif and a good brandy should be enjoyed slowly to savor the subtle fruity sweetness.
Could your alcohol consumption be sabotaging your weight loss efforts?
Let’s find out.
If it is, we can design an alcohol consumption plan that meets you where you are today. A plan that can help you improve your relationship with alcohol as well as with food, your body and your weight. A plan that zeros in on the most important steps you can take to give your relationship with alcohol the make-over it needs.
And then we test the plan. We tweak it. You lose weight. I call that winning!
So, please take me up on my offer for your FREE Strategy Call. Then you can see for yourself how it’s possible to jump start weight loss.
This exploration can help you reach your weight loss goals with a lot less stress and drama.
It’s totally possible to make 2022 your year to create the healthiest you. No matter your age, stage or past disappointments.
Jump start your fresh start. A year from now you will thank yourself you reached out to me today.
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