4 Ways Drinking Alcohol Affects Losing Weight
Trying to lose weight, but still want to have a few drinks here and there?
If the answer is “Yes”, then this article is for you.
In the following paragraphs, I’ll be going over the effect that alcohol has on your weight loss goals, and ultimately, what are the BEST alcoholic beverages/liquors you should be drinking when you go out to help keep you on track and prevent that number on the scale from going up!
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention), most adults who drink, do not drink every day. HOWEVER…when adults DO drink, they have an average of 3-6 alcoholic beverages at any given social event (this could be a formal corporate event, or simply a night out at the bar with some friends).
The point is, even though we don’t drink every day, when we do drink, we end up having a week’s worth of calories in a single night of fun…
Let’s take a look at the most influential factors as it pertains to the negative effects that alcohol has on our weight loss goals:
1. Alcohol is rich in calories.
The numbers don’t lie; there are 7 calories per gram of alcohol, versus macro-nutrients like protein and carbohydrates which have only 4 calories/gram. These numbers don’t seem large or far apart from each other, yet they quickly add up as we slam down the drinks.
Here is a list, in descending order, of the most popular and highest-calorie alcoholic beverages:
If I mentioned any of your favorite weekend drinks, I’m sorry, yet it is clear to see that it is easy to pack on calories with these kinds of drinks.
To put things in perspective, there are 3500 calories in a pound. If we want to lose 1lb per week, we need to consume 500 LESS calories per day (500 calories x 7 days in a week = 3500 calories, or 1 pound).
Just having one long island iced tea or margarita would already put us over our daily 500-calorie reduction needed to lose 1 pound per week!
2. Alcohol is a diuretic.
Alcohol is a diuretic. Meaning, that it promotes water loss, and in-turn causes dehydration.
Not only does water help us to lose weight, but it is required for every biological/metabolic process in our body. Therefore, a dehydrated body =
Alcohol consumption throws off our hormone balance which in-turn causes our metabolism to be temporarily impaired.
Less intra-cellular water in our muscles
Muscle burns more calories than fat. Our muscles are also made up of 70% water. Therefore, when our muscles are not properly hydrated, they begin to work less efficiently and burn less calories than they could if they were hydrated.
High blood pressure
Alcohol restricts blood flow, which then causes less nutrient absorption and higher blood pressure to try and get proper blood flow to our vital organs.
Not to mention all the other pitfalls of dehydration like, headaches, nausea, sleepiness, negative mood, high blood pressure, to name a few.
TIP: In order to drink alcohol and minimize its diuretic effects, I recommend having a cup (8oz.) of water every other drink. For example, Drink #1 – light beer, Drink #2 – cup of water, Drink #3 – vodka soda, Drink #4 – cup of water, and so on…
3. Alcohol changes your body’s fuel priority.
This is the order in which our body utilizes/burns different types of fuels (i.e. protein, carbs, fats). Typically, this is the order at which each fuel source is burned: Carbs > Protein > Fats
However, since alcohol is recognized as a toxin by the body, our body must burn through whatever alcohol we consume first, before it can begin burning other fuel sources.
In other words, as long as our body has alcohol in its system, we will NOT burn fat.
Furthermore, we know that the human liver can only metabolize about 1 ounce of pure alcohol per hour, a 1:1 ratio.
We also know that on average, bartenders use about 1-1.5 ounces of liquor for every drink.
So, for example, if we have 3-6 drinks back-to-back, it will take 3-6 hours for our liver to process that alcohol (considering that each drink only has 1 ounce of alcohol in it. If it has 1.5 ounces in each drink, that would take 4.5-9 hours to metabolize).
Whatever alcohol our livers cannot process immediately goes to our blood stream and other body tissues, until the liver is ready to metabolize it.
Bottom line – we need to try and reduce are overall alcohol consumption when we go out. I know its easier said than done, because as we continue to drink, we tend to want to keep drinking, yet if transforming your body is a serious goal, then we must limit ourselves here.
4. Alcohol can impair your judgment.
We all know that judgement is the first thing that alcohol impairs.
I’m not here to reprimand you about drinking and driving (although that’s important too…); I’m here to try and help you avoid making poor food choices.
When’s the last time you’ve been in a car full of drunk people, and then asked for a salad when you went through the drive-through? Let me answer that for you… NEVER.
When we drink alcohol, our bodies begin to release hormones like ghrelin that cause us to crave oily and fatty foods like Pizza, Fries, Burgers, etc.
So in addition to consuming a bunch of empty liquid calories from alcohol, we end up having double the calories in high calorie, unhealthy foods too.
Tips to Drinking Alcohol and Minimizing Weight Gain & Muscle Loss:
1. Stick to low-calorie drinks/liquors
Rule of thumb is to stick to clear liquors over dark liquors, and stay away from high calorie mixers like, tonic water, sodas, and juices.
Just 6-8 ounces of these mixers contain on average 100-150 calories.
Here is a list of the lowest calorie alcoholic beverages/liquors:
- Vodka soda (vodka, club soda, and lime) – 60 calories (*this is my personal go-to drink)
- Tequila – 95 calories (this is not considering mixers)
- Light Beer – 100 calories
- Mojito – 110 calories
2. Have a cup of water every other drink
In order to drink alcohol and minimize its diuretic effects, I recommend having a cup (8oz.) of water every other drink. For example, Drink #1 – light beer, Drink #2 – cup of water, Drink #3 – vodka soda, Drink #4 – cup of water, and so on…
3. Limit yourself to a lower alcoholic intake
For example, if you usually have 4-6 drinks when you go out, limit yourself to 2-3. The idea is to have as little alcohol as possible so that our body can metabolize it and begin burning what we really care about… FAT!
4. Stick to healthier food choices after drinking
Even if you are not plastered, alcohol does cause us to crave oily, high-carbohydrate foods. So, make a conscious effort to stick to lower-calorie, higher protein options like, grilled chicken salad or a steak lettuce wrap.
I hope this article helped shed some light on the affect that alcohol has on weight loss, and some action tips you can apply to your next social event to help keep that number on the scale going down😊
Let me know your thoughts, drop a comment below!