Alcohol and Your Weight-loss Goals

Imbibing alcohol and your weight-loss goals generally don’t mix.  In fact, there are many reasons to reduce or even give up alcohol from our diets and social habits.  (Be sure to read my blog post:  Red Wine:  A Health-Optimizing Drink?)

Yes, but … having a glass of wine, or whatever your drink of choice may be, is also a cherished pastime. Drinking is a way to cope with changes and problems. It’s a conduit for connecting with friends and is infused into most of our social gatherings.

With respect to weight loss though, alcohol messes with your metabolism — big time!

So, here’s how the metabolic process goes when you’ve had a drink:

When alcohol is consumed, it’s absorbed into the blood from the stomach and intestines. Then two main enzymes in the liver begin to metabolize it.

Alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) go to work breaking apart the alcohol molecule so that it can eventually be eliminated from the body. It cannot be stored.

Therefore, it becomes a priority for your metabolism.

It moves to the front of the metabolic line when it’s consumed. It doesn’t matter if you’ve consumed food (that contain nutrients like fats, proteins and other carbs) along with it. In turn, that slows the breakdown of fats (lipolysis) and the digestion of any other nutrients.

The good news is that postponing those digestive processes doesn’t necessarily equal imminent weight gain. It’s simply that the biochemical pathways don’t work as efficiently with alcohol on board.

Factors affecting the rate of alcohol metabolism – and how tipsy you get!

The fact is that no matter how much alcohol a person consumes, the body can only metabolize a certain amount of alcohol every hour.

According to the Clinical Liver Disease Journal, there are certain factors (see list below) that can determine what an individual’s absorption rate is — and how quickly they’re going to feel the effects.

  • Age
  • Race
  • Gender — women tend to have a lowered tolerance for alcohol (absorb alcohol faster) due to the fact that they have less of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH)
  • Exercise
  • Drugs — recreational and some prescription
  • Alcoholism — family or personal history/genetics
  • Consumption of food and drink
    • Food consumed at time of or around the time of alcohol consumption
    • Type of drink consumed and congeners or “irritant properties” in it (for example, low-quality alcohol has a high percentage of congeners that increase absorption of alcohol and one’s chances of getting a hangover)
    • Concentration of alcohol consumed
    • Rate of consumption

Imbibing Alcohol and Your Weight-Loss Goals Conclusion

While it’s somewhat a relief that alcohol itself isn’t the entire problem, it’s the high-calorie count, especially when combined with sugary mixers and a tendency to overeat when imbibing, that usually keeps us in the resistant weight-loss zone.

However, there is hope as it is possible to get ahead with your weight-loss goals, even if you choose not to give up your wine!

MODERATION truly is key when it comes to alcohol consumption.

Here are six diet tips for when you plan to consume wine/alcohol:

    1. Be sure to get in a good workout the day you plan to indulge.
    2. Don’t skip meals by attempting to “save up” those calories for drinking and the extra eating that usually goes along with the drinking.
    3. Determine how much you already consume — is it two glasses of wine per night? Begin by cutting it down to one, then only have one every other day.  And whatever you do, don’t stockpile your drinks all week and have a big binge day on the weekend!
    4. Drink no more than ONE glass per hour.
    5. Have a full glass of water (or two) in between each drink.
    6. Swap out sugary mixers, syrups, sweet wines, heavy beer and pre-bottled hard alcohol drinks for lower-calorie options.

The best alcohol to drink when you’re trying to lose weight.

If your goal is weight loss, the best drink to enjoy will be a lower-calorie, lower-sugar and lower-carb one that will have a more minimal impact on your overall daily nutrition — and your bottom line!

  • 1.5-ounce shot of 80-proof liquor: 97 calories
  • 5-ounce glass of white wine: 100-121 calories
  • 12-ounce bottle of light beer: 55-103 calories (big range)
  • 5-ounce glass of red wine: 105-125 calories
  • 12-ounce bottle of regular beer: 153-320 calories (very big range!)

For wine lovers:  the best wine for weight loss is dry wine like Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Merlot or a very dry sparkling white wine. Sweet wines (like Port or Ice wine) have significantly higher-calorie and sugar or carb counts.

By shaving off a couple of drinks per week note how the reduction in calories (and alcohol + sugar) can really add up!

You can see how indulging in a few alcoholic drinks when you’re out with friends can help you appreciate the occasion more than when you’re simply mindlessly drinking wine on the couch on a Tuesday night!  Right?

So how many of you readers are working at losing weight?  Are you worried that your drinking habits may be sabotaging your efforts?  Which one tip presented here do you think will help you the most?  Please comment below.  As always we’d love to hear from you.

Categories: Blog, Drinking and Weight Loss, and Metabolism.

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