Alcohol is considered to be the favorite beverage of adults all across the world through eons. However when it comes to healthy diets and the food items that we are allowed to consume, alcohol appears to be as a risk which may lead to weight gain. On the other side certain forms of alcoholic beverage such as wine have been found to be beneficial for heart patients. Alcohol also acts as a cultural adhesive which is shared on auspicious occasions. The axiom of everything in moderation is even more relevant when it comes to consumption of alcohol to prevent any health risks and avail its beneficial qualities.
The Truth About Alcohol And Weight Gain
It is generally recommended to avoid or limit the consumption of alcohol for those who are looking to lose weight. It is argued that alcohol has empty calories which only makes the calorie counter go up. Heavy drinking has been associated with severe health risks in multiple studies and is therefore continuously focused upon when it comes to public health. The various alcohol types have different calorie content. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans specifies that a regular 12 ounce beer has about 150 calories, 5 ounce wine has about 120, while 7 ounce rum has around 155.
One of the biggest challenge for anyone who wants to consume alcohol is to limit themselves under the normal prescribed amount. It is well established that many people are unable to correctly estimate the amount of alcohol that they should consume. This becomes even more difficult as the drinking session progresses. Alcohol severely impairs our internal food control unit. Our body has an inbuilt hormonal mechanism which keeps receiving and transmitting hunger signals. It takes a hit when one is under the influence of alcohol. This can lead to mindless consumption of extra calorie which may have been avoided if one was sober enough.
Alcohol consumed is metabolically broken down in form of acetate which is used by body to fuel itself. The acetate takes precedence over any other kind of body fuel such as fat or carbohydrate. This causes the calories consumed along with alcohol to simply remain in the bloodstream. It consequently gets stored within as extra calorie in form of fat. While alcohol is running in your blood the body also enter a mode where less fat which was previously stored gets burnt. The process of lipid oxidation, which is using fat as fuel is hindered and hence your body may start gaining more weight.
Alcohol not only interferes with the metabolic processes of the body but it also plays a big role when it comes to make sound judgments under its influence. One is more likely to overeat or feel binge cravings after alcohol consumption. Mindless eating habits can lead to consumption of extra calories. It is well known that alcohol leads to craving of unhealthy carbohydrates. This is because of the crash that comes after its consumption. One is less likely to fell satiated even after consuming adequate amount of calories.
Several studies have shown that people who drink more alcohol have larger waists than those who are moderate drinkers. In a study by University College London which had more than 28,000 men and women as participants, it was found that men drinking around 100 grams of alcohol and women drinking 60 grams of alcohol at one sitting for at least once a month had larger waists as compared to those who were moderate drinkers. In another study it was found that men overall consume more than 400 extra calories on days they drank while women consumed extra 300 calories on such days.
There are many other factors which may also play vital role when it comes to alcohol consumption and weight gain. What you drink or the kind of alcoholic beverage that you indulge in can effect the kind of weight gain you face. Also important is the ingredients that are used to prepare your drink. For instance whiskey taken along with carbonated drinks can lead to consumption of more calories as opposed to when it is simply taken on the rocks, with ice cubes. One also needs to consider the food that is eaten after a drinking session. For someone keeping a watch over their waist it is important to know how much and how often are they going to drink. Apart from alcohol, other food items under your diet are as important when it comes to weight gain. It is important to be extra careful for someone who has a family history of close ones who have abused alcohol and suffered its consequences. Your age and overall health will also determine the kind of results that you may have to face after excessive alcohol consumption.
How Does Alcohol Affect Weight Gain
Alcohol is empty calorie, which means that it does not provide you with any nutritional benefit and adds to your overall calorie intake. Empty calorie food items can lead to over eating and hence more calorie intake that the normal daily prescribed amount. 1 gram of alcohol provides around 7 kilocalorie. It is energy dense but nutritionally poor which makes it more likely to supply body with easily available calories. This is also evident in the way alcohol gets absorbed by the body. The calorie obtained from alcohol can be immediately broken down by the liver. When you consume alcohol the body starts using ethanol as a fuel so the already available fat and carbohydrates are not used and hence their metabolism is affected.
In order to gain weight one needs to consume more calories than the calories they burn. This starts happening when calories are supplied from alcohol. Regular consumption of alcohol leads to accumulation of extra calories that one is not able to use, the excess glucose from carbohydrates and lipids from fat gets stored within the body and lead to weight gain. It alters the way fat is deposited within your body. Chances of having more abdominal fat increases with excess consumption of alcohol. It also increases the amount of body fat.
Nutritionally dense food items help the body to feel satiated as the nutrients derived from them take time to break down and get assimilated into the blood stream. But food such as alcohol which are empty in calorie lead to unhealthy craving as the body has not been able to fulfill its nutritional need. Also since the digestion of these food items happens quickly the hunger within the body returns back soon. Alcohol also leads to decrease in the level of leptin, which is one of the hunger hormones. The role of leptin within the body is to regulate its appetite by reducing hunger. Under normal conditions it works together with ghrelin to balance the appetite. Alcohol also inhibits the way information is transmitted within the body. Cravings for unhealthy food items which are also empty calories rises. One is more likely to eat fatty and salty foods after consuming alcohol. It can also lead to impulsive eating which may lead to overeating or binge eating episodes.
Alcohol consumption can also severely affect testosterone which plays a role in muscle formation and has capabilities to burn fat. It can lower testosterone levels which can lead to onset of metabolism syndrome. Lowers levels of this hormone also affect sleep and it has been established that sleep plays an important role in regulating appetite. For those who regularly sleep less than the prescribed duration are more likely to pile on weight and indulge in binge eating. Sleep also plays an important role in regulating the metabolism of the body. Better metabolism leads to better usage of available calories as fuel for the body.
Alcohol puts stress on the gut and slows down rate of digestion. It has been found to cause damage to the gastrointestinal wall because of its acidic nature. It also not suitable for the gut microbes to thrive under its influence. Consumption of alcohol leads to less secretion of digestive juices which decreases the rate of digestion. The food is more likely to stay in the digestive tract for more time and become toxic. Due to damage caused to the healthy bacteria within the gut the nutrients from the food are not readily assimilated within the body. One may feel craving for food even though they are already full. The metabolism of food takes a hit as alcohol affects functioning of liver. The organ may not be able to process the extra calorie in form of fat and carbohydrates which may lead to further complications.
How To Drink Without Gaining Weight
Moderate consumption of alcohol may be suitable for those who want to avoid weight gain. For those who want to drink without facing any adverse effect it would be best to avoid binge drinking. Drinking too much of alcohol at a single sitting can be avoided by planning ahead and selecting the drink which will have the least amount of calorie. It would be better if one decides the serving before the session begins. You can begin by logging your consumption and see how it affects you the next day.
While drinking alcohol it would be better to avoid consumption of fried or salty food which one normally craves. One is more likely to indulge in binge eating after consuming alcohol. It would be better to decide in advance what all food will be available and only that needs to be consumed. It would be better to consume more protein rich food on days one is planning to drink. Protein helps in satiation and can keep the body feeling fuller for longer duration.
Alcohol slows down the digestion rate and metabolic activity and hence it will be better to avoid binge eating as all the extra calorie will get converted into fat and stored within the body. To avoid this situation it would be helpful if one consumes food before drinking as it will help in feeling satiated and avoid any unhealthy craving. Also eating before a drinking session will help in controlling the sugar level of body and prevent it from crashing. However one needs to avoid consuming carbohydrates and fat and instead opt for food rich in protein and fiber.
Many people avoid drinking water or having food before consuming alcohol as they think it might interfere in the way they feel after drinking. This should be avoided as the alcohol can cause dehydration as it acts as a diuretic, it can also put undue pressure on your kidneys and you may face imbalance of electrolytes which can lead you to crave for salty food items. These unhealthy cravings can be avoided by consuming ample amount of water before, during and after a drinking session. To facilitate this one can slow down the rate at which they consume alcohol and keep drinking water. Avoid consuming any other kind of beverage as it may contribute to extra calories. It would be better to avoid mixed drinks such as cocktail as it is difficult to estimate their calorie content.
Although it is generally observed that most people consume alcohol at night before going to sleep, for those who want to avoid gaining weight it would be recommended not to consume alcohol before falling asleep. Sleep obtained after alcohol consumption has been found to be poor in quality. Since the body is not able to have restorative sleep, it may not be able to perform at an optimal level. Because of lack of sleep other metabolic activities such as digestion and immune functions can be poor.
One should avoid regular consumption of alcohol and once in a while mix non-alcoholic or alcohol-free beverages to see how it works for the body. Excess of any form should be avoided when it comes to it. Our body treats it as a poison and tries its best to get rid of the compounds which explains the exertion put on our liver and kidney after alcohol consumption. Moderate consumption of alcohol can be tried to avoid any weight and health related concern.