Is Alcohol Sabatoging Your Fat Loss?
You’ve waited all week, now it’s time to play. All of your workouts are completed, you nailed your diet, and your measurements for the week were great. All the more reason to celebrate with a couple of cocktails, right? You may want to think twice. Depending on your goals and timeframe, those few drinks on the weekends, or the wind-down glass of wine after work, may be the reason you’re having such a hard time dropping those last few pounds or percentages of body fat.
- Alcohol Stops Fat Loss In Its Tracks
When alcohol enters the body, its digestion takes precedent over all other macronutrients. The body views alcohol as a toxin and works as hard as it can to eliminate it. This means carb and fat metabolism come to a halt when alcohol is present. The primary job of the liver is to burn fat and carbs for energy, however it is also the main component of ridding the body of alcohol. The longer these macronutrients are put on hold, less fat burning occurs, and the more likely they will be directly stored as fat in the body. Alcohol not only stops the body from burning fat, but also contributes to fat gain.
- Would You Rather Eat Your Calories or Drink Them?
Alcohol is a non-essential nutrient in the body, meaning it is not needed to keep the body alive. What does this have to do with calories? Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram, almost twice as many calories as carbs and protein. Not only is that a hefty contribution to your daily intake, but these calories are empty, giving the body absolutely zero nutrients.
- So Begins the Crave Train
As mentioned above, when the body is busy breaking down alcohol, it is not releasing sugar into your blood. When low blood sugar occurs, you may find yourself starving and reaching for the closest plate of food. Typical foods accompanying places that serve alcohol are salty, carb heavy, and often high in calories. In a normal state, saying no to the foods you typically try to avoid would be easy. However, after consuming alcohol, your inhibitions are lowered and you will be much more likely to say yes to that pizza or those greasy fries adding an enormous amount of calories to those already consumed in the alcoholic drinks.
- Alcohol Lowers Testosterone
When alcohol is consumed, testosterone is lowered for up to three days after consumption. Ladies, you may think you are in the clear here but stay with me. Testosterone is an anabolic hormone critical for fat loss and lean muscle gain. When testosterone is low, its anabolic effects are not nearly as potent thus affecting all attempts at gaining the prized lean muscle. Less muscle mass means a lowered metabolic rate, the rate at which your body burns calories, making it that much harder to reach your fat loss goals.
- The Hangover: What’s Really Happening?
The headache, ravenous hunger, insatiable thirst, groggy and depressed feeling are some of the normal consequences after a night on the town or even a couple drinks. You’ve just consumed more calories in a couple hours than you would in a whole day of normal eating. Combine this with the copious amounts of sodium that accompanied those calories and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. A nice greasy breakfast sounds like a great cure for a hangover however that breakfast turns into a full day of binging and purging on those salty, sweet cheats and treats sending your blood chemistry into a rollercoaster of high and low blood sugar (remember the Blood Sugar Curve from Nick’s Success Manual). You may think this is just a 24 hour event, however your sleep is affected for the next 3-4 days. Less recovery, tired and groggy workouts, decreased motivation and self-control, and just as you’re body starts to normalize… it’s the weekend again.
As you can see, that innocent night out with friends or game night with the family turns into a whole mess of consequences beyond the obvious next day hangover. The next time you’re at a bar or looking for that wine glass, grab a cocktail glass filled with ice and water with a lime slice on the side instead. What may look like a vodka on the rocks is really just a calorie absent disguise for those social situations you can’t avoid. You determine the rate of progress you see with the choices you make every day. If you’re not willing to give up alcohol to reach your goals, it may mean a longer road to success. Everyone has a desired lifestyle, and what is realistic for one person may not be for another. Decide your timeline and what it will take to reach those goals and put yourself and your health first!