Updated: Dec 7, 2020
Do you like gathering for a drink or two with friends? Perhaps a glass of wine or two with dinner is more your thing. Or maybe you love watching your favorite teams play while gulping down an ice cold beer. But if you’re trying to lose weight, you might want to refrain from any alcohol consumption completely.
In small amounts, alcohol can be good for you. Red wine has been shown to do well for the heart. However, if you keep refilling your glass, your body composition won’t change for the better. Even just one alcoholic beverage can undo all the good that you’re trying to do for your fat loss and muscle building.
Alcohol has 7 calories per gram. It gives your body energy, but unlike those macronutrients that come from food, it’s just empty calories. Even famed Dr. Atkins had a lot to say on the subject of alcohol and how it effects fat storage. Alcohol will always be what your body chooses to burn first.
What Happens When Your Body Burns Alcohol First
Every time you have a drink, the alcohol content halts the fat-burning process and makes for a greater storage of fat. So, if you’re hoping to burn that butter, you’re not going to get anywhere while you’re still consuming alcohol regularly.
If you really want to see fat loss happen and build lean muscle, you’ll want to skip alcoholic beverages for a while. Here’s why!
- Alcohol has nearly double the calories of carbs and protein
Remember that 7 calories per gram? That’s just about twice as many calories as either carbs or protein will give you. While it only has 2 fewer calories per gram than fat, alcohol doesn’t have nutrients that benefit your metabolism. In other words, it’s going to make for more fat storage.
Additionally, when you’re sitting with friends clinking glasses together and having a good time, you’re much more likely to keep taking in more calories than you’d normally consume. It’s not just the spirit you choose but also the other things that go into that glass. Even beer and wine have a high carb count and those carbs release insulin and lead to more fat storage.
- It makes you less cautious
Most people are aware that alcohol certainly makes us throw inhibitions to the wind. But if you’re trying to lose fat, you will have a more difficult time because alcohol will likely make you go for that order of potato skins or an extra slice of pizza rather than eating something healthier.
Additionally, alcohol stimulates the appetite, typically for fatty and salty foods (one reason those late-night pizza places do so well). That means it works against in the form of calories consumed by alcohol alone while causing cravings for foods that aren’t helpful for fat loss.
- It makes your inner organs weaker
While excessive alcohol consumption surely leads to troubles inside the body, you might be surprised to discover that it can still weaken key points within your body. As time marches on, your stomach lining can be weakened which makes for weaker kidneys and liver. A weaker stomach means you lose efficiency in digestion and your metabolism suffers.
As for your liver, it has to process toxins and break down fats to use as fuel. When these things are thrown off balance, your body is unable to function as it should and leaves you with excess fat.
Understanding How Alcohol is Processed by Your Body
If you still think one drink isn’t a big deal and you’re trying to lose fat, think again. After you drink one alcoholic beverage, one quarter of that alcohol is absorbed right into your bloodstream from the stomach. The rest goes in through your small bowel. It’s absorbed pretty quickly, but it can be even faster in some cases.
For example, if your stomach is full, your body will absorb the alcohol more slowly. Carbonated drinks, like champagne, always absorb more quickly. And if you are drinking anything with a high concentration of alcohol, your body will absorb it more rapidly too.
Now let’s get back to your liver. Almost all of the alcohol you consume gets processed by your liver while the rest of it comes out in your sweat, urine, or breath. Just one drink will take your body about 10 hours to process. This affects your blood alcohol level where enzymes known as ADH (alcohol dehydrogenase) found in the liver metabolizes alcohol. It then becomes acetaldehyde which is broken down into acetate thanks to aldehyde dehydrogenase. Finally, that acetate gets further metabolized and then leaves the body as waste.
Stop Making Your Body Work Too Hard to Burn Fat
If you’re serious about losing that fat and want to build muscle, keeping alcoholic beverages out of your life is the best way to do it. You’ll be healthier overall as you’re not putting added pressure on your stomach, kidneys, or liver to remove these toxins. You’ll also be avoiding heaps of excessive calories.