Alcohol and Weight Loss
Know the facts about Alcohol and Weight Loss!
Last week I had the opportunity to travel to Cincinnati for a conference and spend a few days after with my family who live there. The trip would take me away from the gym for several days (6) which made me a bit uncomfortable. Thankfully I had the opportunity to take a long walk/hike with my sisters in law; it wasn’t the gym but the fresh air, sunshine and time with them was a wonderful change. I was also challenged with keeping true to my healthy food choices while eating out. Another concern was what would happen to the number on the scale if I consumed alcohol? I wanted to relax and unwind with my family and intended to share a glass or two (or three) of wine with them. Knowing that alcohol consumption is not an everyday occurrence for me I was quite cautious.
My trip went by way too fast and four days later I found myself standing on the scales for the first time in a week; a four pound decrease! I was pretty excited that it had not affected my continued loss. Returning to the gym and my weekly workout with my trainer, Alfred, we discussed my trip and the affects eating out and consuming alcohol can have on one’s weight loss and overall health. While I know that consuming too much of anything can be detrimental I found it helpful to learn from Alfred how our bodies store fat depending on where the fat originates. Until then I thought fat was fat; I was wrong.
Facts about Alcohol and Weight Loss:
When embarking on a weight loss journey, alcohol is often first on the proverbial chopping block. Although it’s possible to drink alcohol in moderation and still lose weight, regular or excessive alcohol consumption can hinder your weight loss efforts a great deal. Alcohol itself contains 7 calories per gram — almost double the 4 calories per gram from protein and carbohydrates and just 2 calories short of the 9 from fat. Unlike carbohydrates, protein and fat from whole foods, however, alcohol doesn’t provide any feelings of fullness, which means you’re likely to drink these calories in addition to the calories you’re eating. It’s not just the calories in alcohol itself that cause disruptions in weight loss, but also the calories that come from mixers like soda and sugary syrups. While a 4-ounce glass of red wine contains 95 calories, a margarita contains approximately 550 calories which is nearly half of the allotted calories in a 1,200 calorie weight loss diet.
According to Alfred, fat from food (protein, carbohydrates, fats) is stored on the outside of the belly muscle (below the skin surface) whereas fat from alcohol is stored behind the belly deeper within the body making it more difficult to lose. “Beer bellies” protrude the way they do because the fat is stored behind the belly muscle pushing it outward which makes it more difficult to lose. Alcohol is metabolized differently than other foods and beverages. Under normal conditions, your body gets its energy from the calories in carbohydrates, fats and proteins, which are slowly digested and absorbed within the gastrointestinal system. However, this digestive process changes when alcohol is present.
Keeping in mind that moderation is key to a successful healthy lifestyle and weight loss it is okay to drink a glass of wine once in a while or celebrate a NASCAR win with a beer (or two). Making wise food choices while on my recent trip and allowing myself to indulge with a few glasses of wine was a real treat. Sticking to a structured healthy lifestyle plan is essential; however, breaking the routine in a moderate manner is often un-avoidable and at times necessary to keep oneself focused on the long term goal.
Thankful for my relaxing time away I was excited to get back to the gym, return to my training program and continue on the journey that has transformed not only my physical self but my spiritual self as well; the journey continues.