I have to kick off this post by saying that I’m not judging anyone for drinking. Heck, I have a cold beer, cocktails or red wine as a planned indulgence, too. So let’s be clear that this is not a “do as I say, not as I do” situation. I just want to share some information about alcohol and weight loss so you can make an informed choice.
I will never tell any of my clients that they should “never” drink alcohol again. Hey, if it’s your birthday and you want to have some wine, go ahead! I probably would!
But truthfully, regular consumption of alcohol will almost always slow down your weight-loss progress. If you’re used to having a glass of wine at dinner each night, you can probably forget about losing those 10 lbs. before your niece’s wedding next month. Why? Read on for 3 reasons alcohol is not your weight-loss friend.
Reason #1: It’s Basically Poison
Here’s the thing: when you drink alcohol, your body uses it as a “priority fuel” until all of it has been removed from your body. What? It’s like a poison your body wants to expel as quickly as possible. So when you consume adult beverages, rather than metabolizing fat, your liver goes into full-on “get rid of the poison” mode. This means that when you have a drink, your fat-burning furnace is shut off for about 6-8 hours while your liver burns out the alcohol.
You read that right: I said a drink. As in, one drink.
Logically, if you take the number of drinks you normally drink in a week and have all of them on Saturday and Sunday, your fat loss would be better (note: we’re talking about fat loss NOT drunkenness) if all other things are equal. Instead of your fat-burning furnace being turned off 6-8 hours per day, it may be turned off for 12-16 hours over the weekend.
So mathematically it makes sense. But if you’re drinking that much at once, can all other things really be equal?
Reason #2: Junk Food
I don’t drink much now. It isn’t in line with my health and fitness goals. Like I said above, I do enjoy a few drinks on a rare occasion. Often after drinking when I was younger, I ended up in the back of a taxi after a night of drinking. I wouldn’t have the driver head home, I would order a supersized meal at a fast-food restaurant. Or if I did go straight home I would order a massive pizza or go hunting through my cupboards for munchies!
This is why alcohol is not your friend! It’s true – alcohol can stimulate your appetite and cause you to eat way too many calories of junk food.
We’ve all had those mornings where we wake up and walk into the kitchen only to find fast food wrappers scattered all over the counter. “Oh, no I didn’t!” is usually the first thought. Whoever went on a drunken fast-food binge and felt happy when they remembered what they had done the next morning? No one!
When you drink, your food inhibitions are washed away in a sea of alcohol. You’re just not going to make good food choices, period. End of story. If there’s a little part of your brain that likes junk food but you don’t let yourself have it normally, as soon as the alcohol kicks in, that’s where you lose your inhibitions.
One of my mottos is: Eat your French fries when you’re sober so you can truly enjoy them and remember the experience.
Reason #3: Coyote Ugly
If you’re not willing to give up your alcohol, having 1-2 drinks a couple of times a week probably isn’t going to throw off your healthy living and weight loss goals. I’m not a huge fan of regular drinking while attempting to lose weight, but the truth is, after the first month of weight loss, I have seen many clients start enjoying a few adult beverages (like vodka soda with a lemon wedge) on the weekend and still lose weight and get to their goal weight.
If you are going to drink while trying to lose weight, make sure to avoid any cocktails with calorie-laden mixers. A pina colada can send the scale skyrocketing. A good rule of thumb is if it has an umbrella in it, you won’t look good in a bikini. Keep the alcohol on the rocks or mixed with soda water and fresh lime or a lemon wedge.
Do you have concerns about life being cut short or being made difficult by poor health or disability? Do you struggle with managing your weight? Do you have pain that limits your ability to complete your everyday activities? Dealing with chronic health conditions, pain, or being overweight/obese can be taxing; adding a fitness routine and healthy lifestyle changes to your life may seem impossible. However, we have Kinesiologists and Exercise Physiologists that specialize in working with clients who are challenged with dealing with pain and with chronic diseases, like hypertension, diabetes, cancer, MS, arthritis and obesity; we help individuals with chronic disease safely incorporate exercise and other healthy habits into their lives. We help individuals improve their health and fitness, have more energy, limit their pain, improve their quality of life, take their lives back and have fun doing so.