Alcohol And Your Weight

By Julie Maddock

Drinking has been man’s favorite pastime-both socially and culturally.  But, if you’re trying to lose weight, you may want to look into your happy hour habit. 

The empty calories in alcohol
Alcoholic drinks are generally “empty” calories.  It means it provides your body with calories but it has little nutritional value. 

A 12-ounce can of beer, for example, has almost 155 calories.  It has 13 grams of carbohydrates, 1.6 grams of protein and negligible amounts of vitamins.

For the same amount of calories, you could enjoy a quarter cup of nuts or a small piece of fruit.  Both offer more nutritional value. 

It’s not just about the calories, but also how the body processes alcohol. 

Alcohol makes the digestive system work extra hard to eliminate it from the body.  It prioritizes its elimination ahead of all other nutrients.  As a result, there is less nutrient uptake of other food. 

Alcohol and poor food choices
When we’re intoxicated, we also tend to make poor food choices. 

Research from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) showed that there is an association between an increased intake of alcohol and fewer intake of fruits, whole grains and milk.

The study also showed that men and women who drink alcohol are more inclined to eat food high in fat and sugar.

Alcohol and your hormones 
Drinking can impair some glands of the body responsible for releasing certain hormones. 

A study from King’s College of London suggests that alcohol consumption can raise stress hormones in humans. 

What’s the relevance of this? 
Increased levels of stress hormones can make you hungrier.  It’s also associated with cravings for fatty, sweet and salty food. 

People who consume alcohol are also shown to have sleep issues.  Lack of sleep can affect the hormones responsible for your appetite and satiety. 

So, can drinking sabotage your weight loss efforts?
It depends. 

Each beer, wine and liquor have varying amounts of alcohol and calories in them.

It may not be an issue if you’re only drinking occasionally and sticking with low-calorie drinks (think of vodka, tequila, and gin). 

It also makes a difference if you know how to drink in moderation.  That’s about one to two drinks for men and one drink for women per day. 

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