MaPomDen health And Diet Blog
The Complementary Alternative Medicine, Natural Health And Diets Blog

How Alcohol Makes You Fat

If you looked at the title of this article, you may have winced. When it comes to fitness, nutrition, weight loss, and overall health, many of us have problem areas. There are some people who drink a glass of red wine with dinner every night. Others skip the weekday drink altogether, then start giving back a few on Thursday or Friday night and keep it up until Sunday. Still others don’t drink for two to three weeks and then have a few dozen or so drinks over the weekend (you know who you are!). Finally, while there are a lot of people out there who don’t drink at all and genuinely don’t find this article personally useful, I encourage you (if you are one of those people) to read it anyway and share information with someone from whom They think it might help.

So…how does alcohol make you fat, especially if it doesn’t contain fat? To understand how this process works, let’s examine the consumption of a 5-ounce glass of red wine by a fictional character named Vinny.

Vinny takes a drink. When alcohol enters digestion, it is broken down into two compounds: fat and acetate. The fat is absorbed through the bloodstream and stored where Vinny tends to store fat. The acetate is absorbed into the bloodstream and used as Vinny’s primary energy fuel.

You May Like These
1 of 1,644

If you take anything away from this article, read the last sentence again. The acetate is used as Vinny’s primary energy fuel. This means Vinny’s body is relying on the acetate for energy rather than burning carbs, protein or fat for fuel. It completely stops burning anything else. Suddenly, Vinny has an excess of carbs, protein, and fat in his body that has nowhere to go. Where does it all end? You guessed it… it’s converted to fat and deposited on Vinny’s waist.

But that’s not the only effect on Vinny. Alcohol also acts as a strong appetizer. Ever heard of aperitifs? It’s an alcoholic drink taken before a meal to whet the appetite, and many restaurants are realizing this is a great way to get you to order more food! There are several studies showing a large increase in caloric intake when consuming an alcoholic beverage before a meal (compared to a glass of water or even a soda!). So now Vinny wants either: A) another glass of wine or B) food (probably something salty or greasy).

That’s not all! Let’s say Vinny succumbs to his appetite and drains the bottle. Just a single bout of heavy drinking will dramatically increase levels of the hormone cortisol while significantly lowering levels of the hormone testosterone. In addition to his headaches, Vinny should be worried because cortisol causes the body to break down muscle and suppresses post-workout recovery, while low testosterone levels make the body less likely to build muscle mass or burn fat for fuel. So Vinny gets a big belly and skinny arms and legs.

Now let’s look at the actual caloric content of the glass of red wine. Before we begin, keep in mind that at most parties, social gatherings, and restaurants, a typical glass of red wine is really closer to 6-8 ounces. But we will be conservative. So Vinny’s glass of wine contains about 110 calories. Contrary to popular belief, the wine contains very few carbohydrates – only about 5 grams. Because when wine is made from grapes, most of the fructose is converted into alcohol. For comparison, this glass of wine has about the same amount of alcohol and calories as a 12-ounce diet or a shot of 80% spirit (yes, that means a shot of tequila = about a full glass of wine). A regular, non-light beer is even more calorie-dense, as it contains more than twice as many carbohydrates as light beer.

However, keep in mind that alcohol itself contains about seven calories per gram, making it almost twice as caloric as carbohydrates or proteins, which only contain four calories per gram. However, these calories do not contain any beneficial nutrients, vitamins or minerals. Sure – Vinny does benefit somewhat from the compounds found in grape skins and grape juice, but if he’s paired with a tall glass of red wine each night
At dinner, he’s consuming over 1000 extra calories a week and gaining a dozen extra pounds of fat a year!

I haven’t really talked about mixed drinks and I won’t say too much. If you’ve read my article “How Sugar Makes You Fat,” you’ll know the powerful effect sugar has on body fat levels, and if you’ve recently read the label on a soda pop or blender, you’ll know how much sugar is in it is included. A tonne! Basically, you can take whatever I just illustrated in the case of Vinny and multiply by 4-5. Margaritas, Long Island Iced Tea, mudslides, and other sweet concoctions can damage your diet more than a Big Mac and cheese.

So let’s be practical and assume you aren’t going to give up drinking entirely, but do want some tips for your next social event. Here are some ideas:

Dilute alcohol with diet soda. While there are health issues with the artificial sweeteners and chemicals in diet soda, it will reduce your overall calorie intake.

Use lots of ice. It makes your drink appear larger without adding actual calories.

If you have to choose between fruit juice and soda in a blender, choose fruit juice.

Avoid the salty snacks. They make you want more.

At the bar, restaurant, or grocery store, try to find a premium product or fine wine that you like, then pay the extra money and sip slowly. Enjoying a drink reduces overconsumption.

Drink as much water as possible. Try to have two drinks of water for every alcohol consumption.

Did you like these tips and tricks? You may want to check out my free blog and podcast http://www.bengreenfieldfitness.com, which offers weekly advice on everything from diet to fat loss to athletic performance. Bookmark now!

Thanks to Ben Greenfield

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to our newsletter
Subscribe to our newsletter
Sign up here to get the latest health and diet news, updates and special offers delivered directly to your inbox.
You can unsubscribe at any time

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More