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Alcohol and Weight Loss

Sipping on a frozen strawberry daiquiri can feel like bliss on a hot summer day. But indulging in this treat and other alcoholic beverages can wreck your waistline and make it harder to shed those pounds.

Put it another way: At 500 to 600 calories, a strawberry daiquiri can have the same amount of calories as a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese, a Big Mac, and a Burger King sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit.

Now imagine a night out with your friends where you are ramming down mugs of beer and shots of tequila. By then, you will have easily consumed the equivalent of a full day’s worth of calories.

Read on to learn more about alcohol and the impact it has on weight.

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How Alcohol Impacts Your Weight

Still, if you don’t drink that heavily, even casual or social alcohol use can cause you to put on the pounds. There are eight ways alcohol can stop you from losing weight.

Healthline lists eight factors that show how alcohol can get in the way of your weight loss mission:

  1. When you drink alcohol, you consume “empty” calories. What this means is that an alcoholic beverage adds calories to your body, but it contains minuscule amounts of nutrients. In other words, empty calories. Conversely, nuts, salmon, and sweet potatoes are the polar opposite because they are nutrient dense. A 12-ounce can of beer has 155 calories, and a 5-ounce glass of red wine has 125 calories. So, according to Healthline, a night of drinking can cause you to consume hundreds of extra calories.
  2. When alcohol enters the body, it becomes the primary fuel source. When consumed, the body chooses to burn the alcohol first, ahead of any glucose from carbohydrates or lipids from fats, says Healthline. However, excess glucose and lipids end up as fat.
  3. Alcohol can impact your organs and interrupt how the body stores energy from food. When alcohol enters your body, the liver processes about 90 percent of it. The liver is also charged with metabolizing carbohydrates and fats. Drinking too much booze, however, can cause you to develop alcoholic fatty liver, which changes the way your body metabolizes and stores sugars and fats, according to Healthline. This change can make it hard to lose weight.
  4. Drinking alcohol often leads to extra belly fat. There is a reason they call it “beer belly.” Beer is high in simple sugars, just like soda and candy. These sugars, which have a high-calorie count, end up stored as extra fat in the body, states Healthline.
  5. Being drunk can you lead you to make some bad decisions, especially with food. People who drink more alcohol are less likely to eat fruit, but they will opt for foods high in unhealthy fats and added sugars, according to research from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
  6. Drinking can impact testosterone levels. Having low testosterone can hamper the body’s ability to form muscles and burn fat. Also, according to Healthline, low testosterone levels may predict metabolic syndrome in men. When men have this condition, they get high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high sugar levels, and a high body mass index (BMI). So, more alcohol consumption can mean less testosterone, which could lead to the decreased ability to burn fat. Got that?
  7. Drinking can hurt sleep. Alcohol can disrupt sleep patterns. A lack of sleep or impaired sleep can cause a hormone imbalance. Those hormones are associated with hunger, satiety, and energy storage states Healthline.
  8. Alcohol can impact how you digest food and nutrients. Booze can diminish the stomach and the intestines’ ability to secrete digestive fluids that lead to effective food digestion. Healthline states that alcohol intake can impair nutrient digestion and absorption, which can significantly affect the metabolism of organs that play a role in weight management.

What Alcohol Does to Your Body

The adverse effects of long-term alcohol abuse and binge drinking are widely known. Alcohol can impact your brain, heart, pancreas, and especially the liver. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), long-term alcohol abuse, or drinking too much on a single occasion (binge drinking) can result in life-threatening health effects such as:

  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Stroke
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Pancreatitis
  • Fibrosis of the liver
  • Head, neck, rectal, esophageal and breast cancer
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Stretching of the heart muscle
  • The weakening of the immune system

Why Professional Treatment Is Needed

Excessive drinking leads to weight gain on top of the disastrous effects it has on the body.

Heavy use is 15 or more drinks per week for men and eight or more for women, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Binge drinking also counts as excessive drinking. For men, binge drinking is having five or more on a single occasion and four or more for women over the same period.  

If your alcohol consumption looks like this, weight gain will likely be the least of your worries. This is why professional addiction treatment is vital.

How Professional Treatment Can Help You

Alcohol can ravage the body and produce adverse withdrawal symptoms such as depression and shakiness on the mild end and hallucinations and life-threatening seizures on the severe end.

Professional treatment will allow for a safe and comfortable recovery from alcohol. The process begins with acute treatment services, where alcohol is removed from the body, and withdrawal symptoms are treated with approved medications via detox.

After detox is completed, severe alcohol addictions are best addressed in residential treatment. A residential program will allow you to receive comprehensive, multilevel therapy, and care that addresses the mind, body, and soul. Just as the name suggests, this program will allow you to live on site where you will receive treatment.

Another option for people with mild alcohol addictions is outpatient treatment, which provides therapy and counseling services on a part-time basis.

Our treatment centers offer the following services:

  • Individual and group therapy
  • Family counseling
  • Educational programs on optimal stress management and coping techniques
  • Peer support and mediation
  • Family therapy
  • Integrative and holistic service options
  • Rehabilitation and detoxification support
  • Medical support
  • Ongoing (continued care) support

Sources

Alcohol withdrawal: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. (n.d.). from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000764.htm

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). CDC – Fact Sheets-Alcohol Use And Health – Alcohol. from https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm

Healthline. (n.d.). Alcohol and Weight: 8 Ways Drinking Slows Weight Loss. from https://www.healthline.com/health/alcohol-and-weight-loss#overview

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (n.d.). Alcohol's Effects on the Body. from https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/alcohols-effects-body

National Institutes of Health. (2015, October 05). Diet Quality Worsens as Alcohol Intake Increases. from https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/diet-quality-worsens-alcohol-intake-increases

The 9 Worst Cocktails for Weight Loss. (2013, July 02). from https://www.fitnessmagazine.com/weight-loss/eating-help/calories/worst-cocktails/?page=5

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