Drinking a glass of wine or bottle of beer after a long day’s work can be a bit relaxing for some. For others, a tasty alcohol beverage can be a tension breaker in a large social setting. Sometimes referred to as the fourth macronutrient, alcohol is processed differently in the body than other energy sources and can definitely slow weight loss. This is especially true if you’re a regular drinker, meaning you have an alcohol beverage at least once per week.
How Does Alcohol Affects Weight Gain?
Numerous studies have shown regular consumption of alcohol increases weight gain and obesity. Alcohol is a calorie-dense food and is different from other food sources such as carbs, protein, and fat. They are empty calories that don’t offer much in nutrient content. One unit of pure alcohol equates to twice as many carbs.
An average glass of red wine has 125 calories. Most regular drinkers will have at least one glass per night. That equates to an additional 3,750 calories each month or 45,000 calories per year, which is equivalent to nearly 240 Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnuts.
Your liver also has a special affinity for an alcohol derivative called ethanol. Because it is easily absorbed, it immediately turns almost all of it into energy. When you drink alcohol, your body stops using carbs and fats as energy sources. If you get too much alcohol, this extra energy is shunted and stored as body fat.
Can Alcohol Triggers Food Cravings?
Alcohol also increases appetite and triggers impulsive snacking which lead to weight gain. Alcohol consumption causes high cravings for food due to a hormone called leptin. After drinking alcohol, leptin levels decrease by 50 percent. Low levels of leptin tell your brain that fat stores are low and that you’re at risk for starvation. Even if you aren’t hungry, you will feel like eating. On average, 30 percent more calories will be consumed when drinking alcohol.
Does Alcohol Damage the Liver?
Not only does alcohol stymie weight loss. Research has shown that regular consumption of alcohol increases the risk for liver disease.
Because the liver is the primary site of alcohol metabolism, it is particularly susceptible to alcohol-related injury. When alcohol is broken down in the liver, several potentially dangerous byproducts or free radicals are generated which induce liver damage more so than the alcohol itself. Being the most strategic organ in the body, it disables other organs and systems to work well if it is not functioning properly itself. Other than liver disease, this raises the risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer.
The liver must be healthy to detoxify toxins, metabolize sugars and fats, and protect your immune system. Without LIVE-r, there would be no life. Therefore, it’s important to keep your liver healthy. By eliminating alcohol, you’re helping it function properly so that the rest of your body benefits from it.
If you’re trying to lose weight, you probably don’t want to consume alcohol. It will only hinder your progress. Those who are overweight or obese usually have another underlying medical issue. As the body tries to detoxify free radicals that formed these issues, as well as weight gain, alcohol will only increase the toxic load on the body – especially the liver. In turn, the root of the weight problem can’t be resolved.
Therefore, it’s best to choose a low-sugar, alcohol-free drink. Try detoxifying herbal teas, as well as lemon or mineral water. Replace the drink that relaxes you for an Epsom salt bath or classical music. When socializing, choose a low-sugar, virgin drink or seltzer water. If you need to relieve your anxiety before gathering in a large group, take an herbal extract such as lemon balm or valerian-poppy. People who are serious about weight loss will sacrifice their mental need for alcohol.