Who doesn’t enjoy a nice cold beer on a hot day or a glass of wine with dinner? Alcohol can have both healthful and harmful effects. For example, when consumed in moderation, red wine may lower your risk of heart attacks and strokes. But that is like one glass per day. For those of you who prefer to overindulge in alcohol and want to lose weight, good luck. Besides the “empty” overindulgence of calories, when alcohol is consumed, it is burned first as its main source of fuel before your body uses anything else, including glucose from carbohydrates or fats. When this happens, the excess glucose and lipids end up storing as fat…hence the term “beer belly”. Yup, the “beer belly” is not just a myth. The body tends to accumulate fat in the abdominal area.
Our liver has to filter out everything we eat or drink, such as drugs an alcohol. It also plays a critical role in the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Drinking too much alcohol can lead to ‘fatty liver’ and when your liver becomes damaged like this, it affects the way your body metabolizes and stores carbs and fats. Changes in the way your body stores energy from food can make it very difficult to lose weight.
But, there’s more ugh! Alcohol can affect your digestion in a negative way. It causes stress on the stomach and intestines which inhibits digestive enzyme secretions and slows the movement of food through the digestive tract. Without enough digestive enzymes, the food cannot break down into smaller particles (macro and micronutrients) and be absorbed into the body. This can greatly affect the metabolism of organs that play a role in weight management, and more importantly, affects your health.
OK, enough bad news. If you really want to drink, some alcohol choices are better than others:
1.5 oz. alcohol such as vodka, gin, whisky, rum, tequila and brandy are all around 100 calories and virtually no carbs, but be careful what you mix them with. Forget the pop and juice and go with some club soda and maybe a squeeze of lemon or some of those liquid flavorings. This adds zero calories or sugar. Most beers are high in carbs but now you can get some low carb/sugar beer such as Sleeman’s Clear or Michelob Ultra (2-3 carbs each). Mixed drinks such as Pina Colada’s or Daiquiris are out of the question. They are loaded with sugar. For me, wine is my choice but be sure to choose the ‘dry’ wines as they have much less sugar. Now, remember that too much alcohol in general, no matter which one you choose will be burned as fuel before carbs or fats so even if you are choosing the lowest in sugar and carbs, you still cannot overindulge if you want to lose weight.