A few studies have suggested that alcohol can have some benefits — like red wine may lower a person’s risk for heart disease. But it’s important to also consider the disadvantages it has, especially when it comes to weight loss. Krissy Maurin, Wellness Coordinator at Providence St. Joseph Hospital discusses the drawbacks of consuming alcohol when attempting to lose weight.
Alcoholic drinks contain “empty calories,” meaning it can provide your body with calories but very little to no nutrients and minerals, which are what bodies need to thrive. Essentially, your body get no nutritional value from consuming alcohol.
Alcohol is used as fuel first in the body
Usually, carbohydrates are the body’s first choice when providing fuel to the body to burn. But when alcohol is consumed that changes. Our bodies see alcohol as toxic so it shuts down the body’s ability to access all other stored nutrients like carbs, proteins and fatsand begins burning off the alcohol first. This is not what we want when trying to lose weight.
Affects our organs
Once alcohol is consumed, it moves to the front of the metabolizing line during digestion. The main organ affected by alcohol consumption is our liver. Our liver’s job is to detoxify and remove alcohol from the blood. When too much alcohol is consumed, the toxic substance can take its toll on the liver and lead to fatty liver or even cirrhosis over time. Another organ affected is our heart. Alcohol can modify the signals that regulate our heart, and this results in restricting blood flow to other organs. The decreased flow will also lead to damage to the rest of our body.
Contributes to belly fat
A “beer gut” isn’t a myth. Drinking too much alcohol causes weight gain and increased fat stores in the belly. It reduces the amount of fat your body can burn for energy and basically shuts down our metabolism, which causes the dreaded belly fat.
Disrupts sex hormones
Alcohol affects the levels of hormones in the body like testosterone and estrogen. It can impair the functions of the glands that release hormones and the functions of the tissues targeted by the hormones. Chronic drinking can interfere with and impair the adequate functioning of the testes and ovaries and result in hormonal deficiencies, sexual dysfunction and infertility.
By simply limiting alcohol in your diet, you can greatly improve your ability to safely lose weight. Not only will you enjoy a healthier body, but you will also sleep better, digest food more efficiently and increase your energy levels.