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Most of my clients have this misconception about alcohol and dieting. One of the most asked questions I get is, “Does alcohol affect weight loss?

I find that a majority of people tend to believe that if you workout throughout the week and eat a healthy diet, that it’s okay to join your friends for a few drinks during happy hour Fridays.

Truth is, there are only a handful of people that would actually commit to having a few drinks. Even then, depending on what you consider a few, consuming even just one glass of alcohol can impede your weight loss and body changes.

Even if you had the discipline to keep it at a one drink minimum, alcohol in general isn’t something I recommend when it comes to following a strict diet.

What most people don’t know is that alcohol plays a large role in weight management. My advice, if you’re looking to lose weight, you might want to skip that evening cocktail or glass of wine.

Here are a few ways alcohol affects weight loss and dieting.

Alcohol Has Empty Calories

Alcohol, especially mixed drinks, are empty calories as have very little nutritional value. An evening out while enjoying a few drinks can lead to consuming a few hundred extra calories.

In addition, the NIAAA’s Alcohol Calorie Calculator shows that one 5 ounce glass of wine contains an average of 125 calories. If you were to consume 3 or more drinks a week, that’s over 375 calories!

Counting wine calories

NIAAA’s Alcohol Calorie Calculator | Calories per glass of wine

It also shows that one 12 ounce beer contains an average of 153 calories. If you were to consume 3 or more drinks a week, that’s over 450 calories!

Beer Calories Counter

NIAAA’s Alcohol Calorie Calculator | Calories per beer

Keep in mind, that this only accounts for the calories in the alcohol alone. Alcoholic drinks mixed with soda or juice have even more calories!

Alcohol Is a Primary Source of Fuel

Your liver processes both fat and alcohol.  Although this is true, what most people don’t know is that it’s easier for the body to process alcohol than it does fat.

In reality, alcohol slows down the process of body fat through the liver. By doing so, your body stores the fat to burn off later. This in turn slows down your metabolism, and makes it harder for you to lose body fat.

Alcohol Can Affect A Male’s Testosterone Levels

Heavy or long-term drinking can have a negative effect on testosterone levels. In addition, alcohol tends to increase the level of estrogen in your body. Furthermore, an increase in estrogen doesn’t only lower your testosterone levels, but it could also cause the likelihood of men to develop male breast.

Alcohol Could Affect Your Sleep Patterns

In a recent research study, the National Sleep Foundation states that alcohol tends to sabotage the quality of your overall sleep.

The study also states that alcohol can interrupt your REM sleep and aggravate breathing problems.

Man hungover from drinking

Alcohol can cause bad sleeping patterns & restless days

This lack of good sleep can affect your athletic performance. In most cases, it can cause you to skip exercise all together just so you can catch up on some much needed rest.

Alcohol Can Stimulate Your Appetite

In a 2017 a research study conducted by the Francis Crick Institute states that alcohol can also stimulate your appetite. In turn, this can make you hungry.

In addition to alcohol stimulating your hunger, the same study suggest that the more you drink, the more you’ll most likely eat. In most cases, this could lead to binge eating!

I’m not trying to point fingers here, but the truth is that some of us don’t have the discipline to say when or “no” to the over indulging comfort food that comes after a few alcoholic drinks.

It’s okay. We’ve all been there. Me probably more than others. The point I’m trying to make is that if we want to control our eating habits, we have to have the self control to avoid that first round of drinks.

The Best Way to Stay Fit is By Eliminating Alcohol

Truth be told, I have clients who have made great changes to their body despite drinking alcohol in moderation. But, that count is less then the fingers on both my hands.

I’m not saying that it isn’t possible to lose weight while drinking. But, for many of us, it does make the challenge a lot harder.

In conclusion, alcohol just prolongs everyone’s weight loss journey. Taking alcohol out of the equation gives you a better and higher chance at making great changes in your life and health journey.

By eliminating alcohol, you can also enjoy and an all-around healthier body, better weight loss changes, and improved sleep patterns!

SOURCES: Nature.com; Agrp neuron activity is required for alcohol-induced overeating

National Sleep Foundation; How Alcohol Affects the Quality & Quantity Of Sleep

Rethinkdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov; Alcohol Calorie Calculator


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