It’s a well known fact that heavy alcohol consumption causes weight gain and obesity irrespective of the type being consumed. It contains 7 calories/g and offers no nutritional value. Most people think that if they don’t eat when they know they are going to be drinking alcohol they can replace the food calories with alcohol calories. You couldn’t be more mistaken!
Unfortunately, alcohol is metabolised differently than normal foods and beverages. Unlike normal conditions where your body gets its energy from the calories of your macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins) that are digested in the stomach, alcohol does not get digested.
When alcohol is consumed, it gets seen by the body as a “toxin” and becomes an immediate priority to be metabolised or excreted. The alcohol molecules diffuse through the stomach wall as soon as they arrive and can reach the brain and liver within minutes. This reaction is slightly slowed down when you have food in your system, but as soon as the mixed contents enter the small intestine, the alcohol is prioritised and is absorbed quickly arriving at the liver for processing.
At this stage you may be wondering what the big deal is about the liver prioritising alcohol metabolism? Brace yourselves!
All the macronutrients are now no longer being metabolised and used as fuel. They are converted into fat and transported to your fat cells for storage in the body. Not only that but by now you’re hungry as alcohol increases your appetite and lets’ face it, at this stage you won’t be making healthy choices and now you know where that’s going! Wait it gets worse! Just a single bout of heavy drinking will vastly increase your levels of cortisol (stress hormone), while significantly decreasing your testosterone levels. Cortisol causes the body to breakdown muscle and suppresses recovery from exercise, while decreased testosterone levels makes the body less likely to build lean muscle or to burn fat as a fuel.
Alcohol can also increase the amount of acid that your stomach produces, nausea being a symptom, causing your stomach lining to become inflamed. Over time, excessive alcohol use and binge drinking can lead to serious health problems, including stomach ulcers, liver disease and heart problems. Since alcohol is a diuretic it causes water loss and dehydration. Along with this water loss you lose important minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc. These are all minerals vital to maintain fluid balance, chemical reactions, muscle contraction and relaxation.
Although alcohol in moderation has a place in a healthy lifestyle it’s not conducive for fat loss and now you know why!
“Make it Happen”
Alvina Cloete BSc (Hon’s)
Master Trainer and Lifestyle Coach
If you enjoyed this post please LIKE and comment below!