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Alcohol’s Effect On Your Weight Loss Goals
It’s probably not going to come as a shock to you that alcohol is a dedicated enemy to weight loss, being empty calories with no nutritional value, but it may be surprising how detrimental drinking can be.
Trouble on all Fronts
Bud Light is the best selling beer in America. And chances are it’s not the Bud as much as the Light that’s drawing customers. People know that beer is fattening, as the beer-belly phenomenon can attest, what is less well known is that it’s not the beer (or any alcohol) alone that’s contributing to weight issues. When alcohol is consumed and metabolized it initiates a series of processes well beyond the depositing of useless calories and none of them are good for weight loss (or your body in general).
For starters, as alcohol is just an empty rush of calories, that one drink can easily put you over your caloric-intake needs for the day. However, even if that drink doesn’t edge you into calorie high-dose, your body puts a priority on metabolizing the alcohol. The renal system (liver, kidneys) recognizes that you’ve just introduced a toxic element that needs to be dealt with immediately and is sidelined by metabolizing away that poison as quickly as possible. While it’s doing so, much of the legitimate nutrition your body needs is not being metabolized- those minerals, vitamins and nutrients are going undigested. Not only do you miss the nutrients, those formerly nutritious foods have been relegated to empty weight-gain byproduct.
The Renal System and Sugar
That alcohol, upon reaching your liver, attacks it. In long-term drinkers, of course, this can lead to renal failure; cirrhosis when the liver becomes too damaged, swollen and scarred to function; increased likelihood of liver cancer, etc. There’s a common misunderstanding that alcohol is metabolized into a sugar by the liver, but this isn’t the case. While your liver is dedicating its resources to dealing with alcohol it’s not metabolizing your sugars properly- your body’s ability to make glucose is inhibited. Again, long term this can lead to glucose intolerance, diabetes and a slew of other problems, while short term that sugar imbalance is contributing to wait gain. That same sugar imbalance is immediately dangerous to hypoglycemics, hyperglycemics and diabetics.
Then the alcohol reaches your intestinal tract (while it’s on its way there, your body is also not properly digesting any fats you’ve eaten, so they’re contributing to weight gain). Now, finally, alcohol begins contributing to weight loss. Good news, right! You probably see this one coming, it being the kind of article it is and all- no, it’s not good news. When alcohol is done in the short term with- slowing your metabolism, leaving fat improperly digested, damaging the liver, sabotaging your body’s important blood-sugar equilibrium, packing on empty calories, oh- and as a diuretic- sapping away much-needed hydration which further damages your body’s balances; it begins the long-term damage. Most notably- chronic slowing of the metabolism, chronic renal damage and… inflammation of the digestive tract, which impairs your ability to absorb and incorporate needed nutrients. So you lose weight- as your body starves.
As dire as it all sounds, obviously engaging in occasional moderate drinking is not going to lead to precipitous weight gain and immediate, permanent bodily damage before liver failure. In fact, as you’re probably aware, a glass of wine or two a night can be healthy. But if you’re looking to stop gaining weight and/or start losing it, alcohol is going to work against you.
Wesley Reacher has a B.S. in Kinesiology with a Minor in Sports Medicine. When he’s not gunning his lats at the gym or tearing it up on the frisbee golf course, he’s blogging for Weightnot.com, a great resource for healthy weight loss.