Cheers! That may be your favorite celebration phrase as you toast to a birthday, anniversary or any other life event that may occur. Holidays and accomplishments are great times for celebration, but throwing back one too many drinks can really pack on the pounds and do some serious damage to your diet success. There are ways to drink in moderation and maintain weight loss, but the keyword here is moderation. Don’t let your favorite cocktail sabotage your hard work and weight loss efforts. Learn about some of the negative impacts drinking can have on your weight loss goals so that you can avoid them.
Does alcohol contain any nutrients?
The reason that some people are truly unaware of the weight loss damage that drinking can do is because there is such conflicting information out there regarding the benefits of consuming alcohol. A common theme is the idea that alcohol can help lower bad cholesterol, but let it be understood that this is only for certain types of alcohol and in extreme moderation (e.g. no more than one serving per day). I highly doubt that everyone out there drinks solely for the health benefits, so if you are telling yourself that this is your reason for drinking, try some healthier outlets to reap the benefits while staying on track with your weight loss plan.
To dispel another myth, alcohol has no nutritional value for the most part. In addition to being empty calories, alcohol consumption may actually block nutrients from being absorbed in the body, which can lead to malnutrition.
How Does Alcohol Messes With Your Body
1) Effect on Blood Sugar: In previous articles, we have discussed the connection between blood sugar, metabolism and weight loss. Alcohol alters your blood sugar tremendously mainly due to the fact that it is not metabolized properly in the body. Drinking alcohol can also reduce your blood sugar levels as it impairs your body’s ability to create glucose, which is dangerous for all, but especially for diabetics.
2) Slows your metabolism: Since your metabolism will be struggling with processing the alcohol, it won’t be able to focus on metabolizing the things that it supposed to, such as carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Excess amounts of these that are left in the body can lead to weight gain, especially if you drink more frequently than you should.
3) High calorie, Low portion control: Many times if we are getting a drink at the bar or if we are not pouring for ourselves, we are drinking way more than “a drink.” For example, 5 ounces is standard for wine and 12 ounces for beer. Meanwhile 1 oz. is all you need of hard alcohol. Many of us are drinking well above these standard limits and even when we pour our own drinks at home, which can mean double even triple the calories.
4) Lowered inhibitions: One of the first things that alcohol affects is your judgment. After a drink or two, your inhibitions will be lowered and while you may have the willpower to avoid those bar snacks normally, the alcohol will make you less likely to say no to non-diet-friendly snacks and meals.
5) Binge drinking: While you should definitely plan your drinks ahead while on a weight loss plan, you want to avoid skipping or swapping meals or binge drinking once a week. Remember that your body has to metabolize the alcohol immediately. Although the calories may be the same as a meal, the nutritional and weight loss benefits are not, so do not treat it as such.
6) Testosterone reduction: Testosterone is important for fat burning as well as muscle building. Both of these are important for weight loss, however the presence of alcohol reduces the levels in your system.
7) Dehydration and malnutrition: Water is an integral part of any weight loss journey, so dehydration is not an option for those trying to drop the pounds. The same goes for maintaining proper nutrients. Alcohol sucks your body of both these things.
Finding a Balance: Drinks AND Weight Loss
You may be surprised to find out that you can have your cake and eat it too. Well, not actually, but close.
- Moderation and balance are the key components to achieving your weight loss goals, while still being able to have a drink or two on occasion.
- You want to make sure that you plan ahead. If you are well into your weight loss journey, then you know the importance of planning, especially when it comes to meals. Because you are consuming calories when you have alcohol, you should think of this as another meal and plan your day or even your week around it.
- Count your calories by practicing strict portion control with your drink size, even if that means bringing your own pre-measured mug or glass to the bar.
- Drink light versions of alcohol (e.g. light beer) whenever possible.
There are plenty of occasions to celebrate with a drink with friends. You just need to keep in mind that you do not have to participate in ALL of them. Alcohol can be a major obstacle to weight loss if you do not consider some of the previous points. As with any other guilty pleasure or treat, moderation is key, so you do not necessarily have to say no to alcohol forever to maintain weight loss. Bear in mind some of these tips so that you can enjoy the perks of weight loss, while maintain this part of your lifestyle.
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Elena is a nutrition specialist and a personal trainer. She is the editor at YourLifeTube.com where she shares her knowledge on healthy eating and exercising. She also gives her personal reviews for various supplements and online health food stores.