It is my experience, that one of THE hardest items for my San Diego personal training clients to sacrifice is their drinking. Consuming alcohol in our society is a way to bond with others, relax after a long day, or just let loose. I have clients that will completely clean up their eating, exercise several times a week, but struggle to reduce their alcohol consumption. It is for this very reason that I created Sober October, to help my clients see that they can drop the booze for a month and survive.
So how does alcohol consumption affect weight loss exactly?
Alcohol in general, is fairly high in calories. In one bottle of wine, there are anywhere from 500-1000 calories, depending on the type of wine. If you are somebody who enjoys a bottle of wine with dinner, the amount of calories you consume in the wine is equivalent to a very large piece of cheesecake. Most people wouldn’t dream of eating cheesecake every day, or even several times per week. But many don’t think twice about polishing off a bottle of wine with dinner a few nights a week. Over the course of a month if you consume ½ bottle of wine 3 x week you are adding an additional 3,000-6,000 empty calories! That’s one pound of fat a month!
Resveratrol is a phytoestrogen, meaning it releases the powerful hormone estrogen into your bloodstream. When your body has an overabundance of estrogen it initiates fat-storing in the body. This can affect your ability to maintain balance with the fat burning hormone (human growth hormone) created from exercise and estrogen (fat storing hormone). Maintaining this balance between fat-burning and fat-storing hormones is a crucial factor in losing weight.
When you drink alcohol, it’s broken down into acetate (basically vinegar), which the body will burn before any other calorie you’ve consumed or stored, including fat or even sugar. So when you consume food along with your alcohol, your body will not be able to break down the food until it has completely broken down the alcohol. Because the body perceives alcohol as a poison and because it cannot store the energy from alcohol, its first priority is to eliminate it, while digesting and processing the food becomes secondary. That means your meal gets stored and synthesized as fat while the alcohol gets burned off.
Lowers Blood Sugar
Alcohol is metabolized in your body as sugar. When you consume alcohol, your blood sugar will spike quickly. Shortly thereafter blood sugar levels will plummet which leads to feelings of hunger, even if you recently ate. Many people will often consume large amounts of food, then, while they are drinking as a means of curbing the blood sugar spike. Add this to the calories from the alcohol, and you’ll quickly see how bad alcohol is for weight loss.
Consuming alcohol just before bed has been shown to affect a restful night’s sleep. While you are sleeping your body begins to break down and repair. It is one of the best opportunities for the human growth hormone do to its job of metabolizing fat. However, if you are consuming alcohol before bed this will impair your body’s ability to repair your muscles, metabolize fat and most often times you will make up the next morning feeling drained. This can affect your performance during your workout the next day!
Andrea King is a certified San Diego personal trainer helping her clients reach their full potential by making smart food and exercise choices. Andrea helps her clients achieve weight loss success through her personal training services.