Alcohol and Weight Loss
Alcohol and Weight loss: There is no doubt that consuming alcohol can sabotage your weight loss efforts. Those who really want to shift the pounds quickly often make the decision to avoid alcohol until they enter the maintenance phase, while others prefer to incorporate it into their healthier lifestyle by finding lower calorie options and drinking only in moderation.
The problem with alcohol is that it interferes with the way the body burns fat. When you take a drink the body stops using fat for energy and uses alcohol instead. This causes a build-up of fatty acids and hinders weight loss. Alcohol especially decreases fat burn from the stomach which is where the term “beer belly” comes from.
Secondly, alcohol reduces eating inhibitions as the simple carbohydrates cause blood sugar levels to soar, followed by a crash that leaves ravenous hunger. So after a certain amount of alcohol the appetite is stimulated, and because willpower and inhibitions are reduced, more calories from greasy or fried foods are difficult to avoid.
Alcohol is a diuretic meaning that it causes water loss and dehydration. Not only this but the body loses important minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc.
Sleep deprivation is a side effect of alcohol consumption as deep restorative sleep is compromised while alcohol is in the system. Not getting enough rest triggers cravings and likelihood of eating more calories the following day.
Alcohol temporarily impairs the part of the brain that helps you think clearly and rein in impulsivity, the prefrontal cortex. Overdoing it leads to not caring or considering consequences of continuing to eat and drink to excess.
Hints and Tips:
- KEEP EATING – Don’t skip food in favour of drink. It’s more important to eat right than to eat less. Skimping on food as a way to save calories for alcohol just doesn’t work as the sugar in alcohol absorbs into the bloodstream so fast that there is a rapid spike followed by a crash. This makes you so hungry that willpower won’t be enough to stop you overeating. Have a protein, fibre and healthy fat snack before drinking alcohol to slow its entry to the bloodstream. Natural yoghurt with berries and an apple or protein shake is an ideal option.
- MAKE A PLAN – If you decide to have a drink, make sure that the food choices are good. Check out menus online and make choices before the time. Make sure to have protein and complex carbohydrates (vegetables, wholegrain rice or pasta), abstain from desserts and enjoy a drink guilt free. Good choices will keep you satisfied and keep you on track for weight loss. Save alcohol for after the meal and keep drinking water throughout the evening.
- LIMIT CONSUMPTION – One to two drinks once a week should be the maximum amount of alcohol consumed if you want to make progress with your weight loss plan. You may be able to increase this amount if exercising intensely. It’s a good idea to abstain during the week and enjoy alcohol at weekends only. A drink is defined as 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer (bottle) and 1.5 ounces of spirits.
There’s a big difference between drinks calorie content, so here’s a guide to the lowest calorie options:
- Bottle of beer-(12 fl oz.) – 100-160
- Bottle of light beer-(12 fl oz.) – 55-100
- Pint of beer- (16 fl oz.) -180-240 calories
- Pint of cider (16 fl oz.) – 200-250 calories
- 5oz (not 8oz) red or white wine – 100-150 calories
- Vodka, Rum, Brandy (1.5oz) – 65-80 calories (Avoid sugary mixers)
- Champagne – 84 calories