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Alcohol and Weight Loss

Many clients that I have conducted fitness consults for have come to me asking how to lose weight.  They have been trying for a fair amount of time (3 months to over 2 years) and have yet to see any results.  They continue to increase their time spent exercising per week, but to no or little success.

During my consults, I ask many questions, but one question seems to be answered more often than not for people who wish to lose weight…

“Do you consume alcohol? If so, how much on a weekly basis?”

The answers to this question are shocking.  I have some people say they have a beer once every 2-3 days to 2-3 glasses of wine a night!  Unfortunately, this is a dietary no-no for anyone who wishes to lose weight.

Alcohol Contains Calories

Believe it or not, alcohol does contain calories.  In fact, it contains 7 calories per gram which is almost as much as fats which contain 9 calories per gram.  In the average beer and wine, there is about 150 calories per bottle or glass (150 mL or 5 ounces).

Why do I emphasize volume for wine and not for beer?  Simple.  Wine glasses vary in size and over the years, they have gotten bigger.  Nowadays, the common wine glass can hold almost 3 servings of the original.  That can turn someone from saying they consume 2 glasses of wine a night into 5-6 servings per night. A lot of alcohol

Alcohol Contains no Nutritional Value

The nutritional density of alcohol is equal to 0.  There are absolutely no micronutrients in beer that can make it a more suitable option over water.  Therefore, most people in the fitness industry refer to alcohol as a source of open calories – calories without micronutrients.

Alcohol Metabolism

What is even more horrifying is that alcohol is not metabolized the same way as other macronutrients (fats, carbohydrates, and proteins).  One of the major problems with alcohol metabolism is that our body cannot store alcohol like we can other macronutrients.  Therefore we need to get rid of it as soon as it is in our body.

The first step of alcohol metabolism includes converting ethanol to acetaldehyde.  The formation of acetaldehyde in large quantities causes the liver to start synthesizing glycerol and fatty acids – the two subunits to triglycerides (fat).  This overabundance of triglyceride formation due to alcohol metabolism can impede on a person’s weight loss goals.

No Caloric Compensation with Alcohol

Ever notice that you can drink a lot of alcohol and not feel full? You may feel bloated, but that is about the extent to satiety from alcohol.  When consuming, your body does not consider the calories obtained through the constant ingestion of alcohol.  Normally, the body would naturally compensate calories and cause you to ingest less later, however, alcohol does not produce the same result.

You can actually eat the SAME or MORE after consuming alcohol and not feel full.  Furthermore, with the more you drink, you will increase the inhibition of your judgment centers in the brain causing you eat more uncontrollably.

In conclusion, by limiting your intake of alcohol, or decreasing your intake gradually, you will hopefully be able to increase weight loss.  Many clients find it difficult to cut back initially, but when they eventually do – the results follow thereafter. Try substituting your alcohol with diet soft drinks or water as they contain no calories and water can help to maintain hydration, as alcohol only dehydrates you.

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