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  • Writer's pictureMindy Roth

Can you drink alcohol and still lose weight?

Alcohol has been a hot topic lately, especially during the holiday season. Alcohol is the most commonly used recreational drug worldwide, but I do not want to use this blog to talk about alcohol addiction at all. Some studies suggest that alcohol, such as red wine, can have health benefits. However, alcohol plays a significant role in weight management. I will use this blog to inform you about how alcohol can affect your weight.

having a cocktail

How does alcohol affect your weight?

The reason can be complex. I would like to simplify it a little for you. But first, the more complex explanation is:

Alcohol can disrupt several systems and functions in the body that can, directly or indirectly, influence your weight. One of the most obvious ways is through the increased caloric intake. People who drink alcohol excessively, which is high in calories, may gain weight.

You may often hear alcohol referred to as "empty calories," which means it provides your body with calories but contains minimal nutrients.

There are almost 155 calories in a 12-ounce beer and 125 calories in a 5-ounce glass of red wine. To compare, it is recommended to have an afternoon snack of 150-200 calories. A night out with several drinks can lead to consuming a few hundred extra calories.

Alcohol cannot be stored in the body, so when you drink it, your body goes to work to get rid of it as soon as possible by using it as an energy source. So any fats or sugars you consume around the time of alcohol consumption, alcohol will be used as energy, and the fats and sugars will be stored.

Alcohol also affects our sleep, which we know, has a significant impact on our weight.

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, which increases the effectiveness of a natural chemical messenger tied to sleep, known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). While alcohol may sedate you, it can limit your sleep and sleep quality. People who drink alcohol may feel like they fall asleep faster, but it can also disrupt their sleep cycle, causing them to wake up more often throughout the night.

Our organs are also affected when we drink too much alcohol. The primary role of our liver is to filter any foreign substances that enter our body, such as drugs and alcohol. The liver also plays a large role in the metabolism of fats, carbs, and protein. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to liver damage, affecting the way your body metabolizes and stores energy, which can result in weight gain.

So the "beer gut" isn't just a myth.

Foods high in simple sugars, such as candy, soda, and even beer, are also high in calories. Extra calories are stored in the body as fat. Consuming foods and drinks high in sugar can quickly lead to weight gain, and often it accumulates in the belly area.

Another thing that is affected by the alcohol we drink is our judgment… especially with food.

Even the most die-hard diet fan will have difficulty fighting the urge to dig in when intoxicated.

Alcohol lowers our inhibitions and can lead to poor decision-making in the heat of the moment. However, the effects of alcohol surpass even social drinking etiquette. A recent animal study found that alcohol can trigger hunger signals in the brain, leading to an increased urge to eat more food.

And while we tend to eat more food, our digestion and nutrient uptake are also affected. Alcohol can cause stress on the stomach and intestines. This leads to decreased digestive secretions and movement of food through the GI tract. Without secretions, our body cannot break down foods, so they can be appropriately absorbed and used by the body, which, in turn, affects the metabolism of organs and plays a role in weight management.

I know this was a lot of negative impacts that alcohol has on the body, but let's be real – we knew that there were not many positive effects!

So, can you drink alcohol and still lose weight? Some studies do show that modest consumption of certain alcoholic beverages can have some health effects, but we are still learning from these studies, and there are many contributing factors.

While cutting out alcohol from your diet isn't necessarily the only way to lose weight, many improvements can be made to your health journey by simply cutting back.

You can enjoy a healthier body, improved sleep, and better absorption. And if you are monitoring your calorie intake, you can enjoy more foods by limiting your alcohol intake.

And if you plan to drink, choose lower calorie options and opt out of the soda!

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