How alcohol fits into your weight loss goals

Lana Bandoim's picture

When you are trying to lose weight, there are several basic principles that can guide you to success. First, you have to remember that consuming more calories than you use in a day will cause you to gain weight while eating fewer calories than you use will help you lose weight. Two of the best strategies are eating less to consume fewer calories and exercising to use more calories. However, there are other factors such as some types of exercises affecting your metabolism differently and various types of foods offering different degrees of health benefits.

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Some foods are straightforward, so you know vegetables are good for you and doughnuts are bad. However, where does alcohol fit in? Is it considered junk food or a neutral element? Will it help or hinder your weight loss efforts?

The basics of alcohol

Alcohol is not a macronutrient like a carbohydrate, protein or fat, but it does have calories. Every gram of alcohol contains an estimated 7 calories, and it has no functional nutritional value. On the other hand, proteins are used to repair body tissue while fats can be used for a number of different purposes. After consuming alcohol, it stays in your bloodstream until it is fully metabolized. Alcohol has a large impact on your mind such as impairing your reaction time and lowering your inhibitions, but it also has a number of physical effects on the body.

Alcohol is usually only a small part of alcoholic beverages. For example, beer and wine tend to have 10 percent alcohol or less, and even base spirits like vodka and rum are typically about 80 proof or 40 percent alcohol. It is important to note that other ingredients and nutrients may be present in alcoholic beverages, but they may not help your diet.

Metabolic effects

You have to recognize the metabolic effects that alcohol can have in the body. Your body cannot store alcohol the way it stores fats, carbs and proteins, so it must be metabolized immediately. This forces the body to metabolize alcohol before anything else and interferes with the efficiency of drawing nutrients from other foods. In addition, this interferes with your body’s ability to regulate blood glucose levels by disrupting your natural blood sugar and facilitating the development of diabetes after repeated episodes of heavy drinking.

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Mental effects

You do not want to underestimate the mental effects that alcohol can have because they can also interfere with your weight loss goals. Alcohol can lower your inhibitions and increase your appetite. This makes you want to eat more food by compromising your meal plan for the day. It also reduces your willpower by making it more difficult to overcome temptations. These effects will intensify with the number of drinks you consume. If you stick to one or two drinks, you may be able to maintain your willpower. However, after five or six drinks, you will start losing full control over your decision-making abilities, and the bar nachos will start looking tastier and tastier.

Associations

Most people do not drink alcohol by itself. Instead, it is usually combined with mixers that are loaded with sugars and carbohydrates. Liqueurs, such as Triple Sec or Kahlua, are high in sugar content due to their flavorings and syrups. This immediately makes them less healthy for a weight loss plan, but the real problems appear when you start mixing syrup, sodas and juices for cocktails. In addition, beer and wine are both loaded with calories and have minimal nutritional value. Straight alcohol, like vodka or whiskey, does not have these additional calories, unless it is flavored, but still has the other effects of alcohol.

The bottom line

Nobody wants to give up alcohol for a weight loss plan. However, it does have a number of damaging effects. It has no nutritional value, interferes with your metabolism, adds calories to your daily diet and may also be associated with the increased intake of sugar and other substances. If you are going to drink on a diet, you need to do it in moderation. You want to limit yourself to one or two drinks at a time. You may want to select straight or simple forms of alcohol, such as a vodka tonic, instead of a sugary concoction or creamy drink like a Pina Colada or White Russian. Similar to most areas of weight loss, moderation is the key.

Image from Pixabay.com and used with permission.

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Comments

Not an alcohol drinker but that is some interesting info. Also, interesting to know that only alcoholic drinks only contain a small percent - who knew?