Effects of Alcohol on Fat Loss

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By Coach Nathan McVeigh

Alcohol – what it’s doing to your goals, the effect it has on your body, how it is processed and what happens to your caloric intake. 
Alcohol is a huge part of the modern lifestyle – from a wine with dinner, to being 10 schooners deep at the footy on the weekend or every holiday event ever.
We have been engulfed and brainwashed by the marketing of big liquor brands along with peer pressure surrounding such events when mates don’t have the same goals as yourself.
Before you give in, be educated on the effects it will have on your fat loss goals to come.
Caloric Value
Alcohol has 7.2 calories per gram, making it more than almost double the caloric value of proteins and carbs! These calories also do not provide us with any macronutrients, unlike most foods.
For example, a VB beer bottle has 151 calories but only has 12g of carbohydrates! Most of the calories come from alcohol. This means that a simple 6-pack of beer would provide nearly 1000 calories, putting a huge dent in your progress. Assuming and depending on your current calorie deficit, this would more than likely negatively affect caloric balance and thus slow or prevent weight loss.
Processing Alcohol
  • Alcohol (ethanol) is a depressant drug and slows the Central Nervous System
  • It is first oxidised by the body and becomes Acetaldehyde which is highly toxic.
  • It also secretes anti-diuretic hormones.
  • It causes Vagal Neuropathy – creating inflammation and oxidation stress
  • May or may not enhance gastric emptying
Many studies have shown different effects on gastric emptying and metabolism while drinking alcohol with plenty of factors affecting this such as the consumption of foods, the amount/type of alcohol and the tolerance of the user.
Basically, it is toxic to the body and therefore causes intoxication which alters decision-making skills. From there, over-consumption of alcohol or additional food is likely during intoxication as well as the following day while dealing with a hangover from the anti-diuretic effect and toxicity of alcohol.
Goals and Inhibition
  • Alcohol decreases NEAT on the following day which means less calorie expenditure
  • Decreased inhibition, therefore increasing the likelihood to over-consume calories, and; decreasing likelihood to make conscious decisions that benefit our goals such as training, increasing step count or other activities
  • Your performance may suffer in the gym the following days after consuming alcohol
What do we do with this information?
It would be easy to say to eliminate it altogether and just don’t drink but the ability to put this in practice is very difficult for most people. If you can, great! That is your best option.
Although, if you can’t and you tell yourself you won’t have any alcohol but when the occasion arises and you do; it’s best to be prepared. Instead of saying you won’t have any, you’re better off deciding prior how much you will have. This way you can set boundaries around how often you will drink, how many calories worth you will consume and track, planning your training and goals around this so that you don’t completely go off the plan and not know how to stay on track.
Note: they are empty calories with no beneficial micronutrients- so only consume alcohol sporadically and not on a habitual basis.
Enjoy your weekend! Be responsible and stay on track! 

Yours in health,

Coach Nathan McVeigh

Clean Health Fitness Institute

References

  1. Gregory Traversy and Jean-Philippe Chaput, “Alcohol Consumption and Obesity: An Update”, January 8, 2015
  2. Philippe de Timary and more, “The Loss of Metabolic Control on Alcohol Drinking in Heavy Drinking Alcohol-Dependant Subjects”, July 9 2012
  3. Alex Paton, “Alcohol in the Body”, January 8, 2005

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