How alcohol affects your weight loss goals
With the silly season upon us, we get bombarded with invites to year-end socials, Christmas parties, work functions and more and more braai’s to celebrate the summer time. This month only, I am invited to two weddings, two bachelorette parties, three birthday parties and one office party. And with this comes the temptation of champagne, wine and even shots! But apart from headaches, less sleep and an intense craving for greasy foods, how does this affect me? And my hopeful beach body? Is a little okay?
The plain and simple answer is ‘no’. But then you might argue that there are research that suggests that a little every now and then is good for you. Yes, there is research showing that. There is also research that says chocolate is good for you. Some research says fasting is good for you, others show that rubbing strawberries on your teeth will make them white. If you go looking for research about anything, you will find it! The internet is such a wonderful place! A place where we can find anything to justify our actions.
But what really happens when we drink? Alcohol is not metabolised the same way as the other things we eat and drink. Normally, our body gets energy from fats, proteins and carbohydrates which are digested and absorbed by the gastrointestinal system. But this changes when we add alcohol to the equation. Because alcohol is seen by the body as a toxin – it gets immediate attention. And doesn’t need any digestion. It’s the way our bodies are designed, to get rid of the bad stuff as soon as possible.
If we drink on an empty stomach, the alcohol molecules diffuse through the stomach wall and reaches the brain and liver in minutes. This happens slower when we have a full stomach, but again the alcohol will have preference. As it gets to the liver, it places all its attention on the alcohol. If you drink slowly, it can get collected and processed immediately without getting into the other body systems. So when you drink fast, the liver can’t keep up and it circulates in the body until the liver becomes available. That’s when this affects your brain – speech, balance, coordination and shall I mention inhibition – which is so detrimental to your healthy eating habits!
So when the liver is so busy dealing with your wine, it doesn’t have a chance to get to the food! And all those calories are converted to fat and taken away to be stored permanently! Not good!
Alcohol also stimulates appetite, so if you are drinking while you are eating you may tend to eat more than you normally would. It also depletes your leptin stores – which is a whole new article but the long and short of it is that you need leptin to lose weight. And depleting these might take a few days to recover, so you might even be compromising your goals for the next couple of days.
So, is that one little glass (which usually turns into two or three) really worth it? Rather say no, as you would to chocolates or white bread!