I wanted to know how alcohol affects weight loss as I have a few beers on the weekend. If I’m pretty strict for the rest of the week, would this still affect my ability to shed body fat?
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Alcohol’s Effect On The Body
Moderate alcohol consumption does have some health benefits. However, if you are particularly concerned about weight loss then you need to be concerned with how “moderate” your alcohol consumption really is.
Researchers from Case Western Reserve in Cleveland have revealed that alcohol interferes with your body’s weight regulation systems by preventing adipose tissue (fat cells) from releasing fat for fuel. This happens via suppression of adrenaline; the hormone responsible for mobilizing fat from fat cells. However, along side suppression of fat metabolism, alcohol provides a high dose of calories that are easily stored as body fat.
Even moderate alcohol consumption can potentially provide a significant amount of unwanted calories. Every gram of alcohol contains 7.5 calories. A typical 8-ounce beer contains 150 calories and if you have 6 beers over the course of a weekend, that’s an extra 900 calories added to your diet. Therefore, it’s clear that even moderate alcohol consumption on the weekends has the potential to retard fat loss.
If you’re still able to achieve good results in terms of fat loss while consuming a moderate amount of alcohol, then all is good. However, if you find that you’re not reaping the benefits of a stringent approach during the week, then you’ll know that the culprit probably resides in your approach to alcohol on the weekends.
Alcohol and Fat Loss
I’ve heard that one serving of alcohol can actually be good for you and help with fat loss but what actually classifies as “a drink”?
The heart health benefits from moderate alcohol consumption continue to shine through the research. Alcohol in moderation appears to have a positive impact on blood cholesterol levels and enzymes that are conducive to cardiovascular health. A small amount of red wine each day is a research-based strategy that promotes better weight loss.
In terms of serving size, “a drink” is usually defined as 5 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of a spirit or 12 ounces of regular beer. To obtain the antioxidant/health benefits of an alcoholic beverage, one serving 3 or 4 times per week or a half-serving each day should do it – any more than this will work against you.
Also remember that you can’t save up a couple of weeks worth and have them all on a Saturday night. That isn’t how it works, sorry!
I play football and we usually have a few beers after the game. However, after reading your answer to a previous question about alcohol, I realize that I might not be doing myself any favors regarding muscle recovery and body fat distribution. Is this correct?
In a recent review of the literature, a group of British researchers concluded that when athletes compete with alcohol in their systems, it negatively affects performance. While we don’t need a scientist to tell us that, this review also highlighted a number of ways alcohol may impair recovery, particularly if consumed after intense physical exercise.
Alcohol consumption appears to limit endurance and time to fatigue by interfering with carbohydrate metabolism and glycogen resynthesis in muscles. Alcohol promotes water loss so it does not promote rehydration when consumed after exercise. We know that subsequent bouts of exercise in a dehydrated state impairs heat tolerance which in turn promotes fatigue and poor performance.
If you sustain any injuries during the game, remember that alcohol increases inflammation that can retard the healing process. Another interesting stat revealed by this report was that drinkers have twice the injury rate of non drinkers.
Your decision on alcohol consumption after a football game comes down to how serious you are about promoting recovery and preparation to be at your best for your next match. Optimum recovery between games is vital to peak performance. Maybe one or two beers might be okay every now and then, but any more than that won’t do you any favors.
When Added to Alcohol, Do Those Diet Mixers Speed Intoxication?
This is a valid question if you want to remain under the legal blood alcohol limit. Some studies have shown that diet mixers (such as tonic water and margarita mix) do speed the rate that alcohol enters the blood stream.
A group of Australian researchers (who else?) measured the rate that alcoholic drinks emptied from the stomach. Using an ultrasound method, the researchers reported that because diet mixers are usually sugar free, the alcohol passes through the stomach into circulation at a faster rate.
Drinks using the diet mixers hit the system 15 minutes sooner. Basically, the individual consuming this type of drink will get tanked much faster.
Increasing the overall volume of the drink (such as adding ice) may reduce this. However, essentially, the rate of intoxication comes down to the dose of alcohol and the body weight of the individual.