We’ve all heard of booze bloat. But exactly how does alcohol hinder your weight loss journey? And can you have any alcohol at all while you’re trying to lose weight?
Like many mums you may find that you are still craving a glass of wine a few times a week.
We look at the effects of alcohol and weight loss – especially alcohol and belly fat.
How booze can contribute to tummy bloat
When you eat or drink more calories than you burn, the excess calories are stored as fat. Exactly where your body stores that fat is determined in part by your age, sex, and your hormones.
Alcohol is metabolised differently than other foods and drinks. Normally, your body gets its energy from the calories in carbohydrates, fats and proteins, which are slowly digested and absorbed within the gastrointestinal system.
However, this digestive process changes when alcohol is there. When you drink alcohol, it gets immediate attention (because it is seen by the body as a toxin) and needs no digestion.
Alcohol delays your liver’s ability to break down fat
Generally speaking, alcohol intake is associated with having a bigger waist because when you drink alcohol the liver burns alcohol instead of fat. Alcohol also suppresses testosterone production, the primary metabolic hormone, this can last up to 24 hours following consumption.
So not only does alcohol delay your liver’s ability to break down fat, it also obstructs your body’s access to the hormones it needs to help you break down fat.
When the body is focused on processing alcohol, it is not able to properly break down foods containing carbohydrates and fat. Therefore, these calories are converted into body fat and are carried away for permanent storage on your body.
Even though alcohol contains calories, alcohol doesn’t satisfy us in the same way that food does. This means we don’t end up consuming fewer food calories to compensate for those we’ve drank.
Booze makes us eat more!
In fact, alcohol can make us want to eat more! Alcohol increases your appetite by suppressing leptin, the hormone which normally tells your brain to stop eating and negatively effects many other brain chemicals that are involved in appetite suppression.
It can also makes us lose our inhibitions, making the decision to grab a slice of pizza or a greasy kebab all the more easy. Our healthy food choices become less important to us!
Another important fact to remember is alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that it causes water loss and dehydration. Along with this water loss, you lose important minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc.
These minerals are vital to the maintenance of fluid balance, chemical reactions, and muscle contraction and relaxation.
Alcohol can disrupt your sleep patterns
Alcohol affects your body in other negative ways, it may help induce sleep, but the sleep you get isn’t very deep. You get less rest, which can trigger you to eat more calories the next day.
Tips for what to do when you want to have a drink
All this information can be good and well, and if you must enjoy a social drink here and there!
1. Try a low calorie alcoholic drink
But just remember that when drinking, try to have one low calorie drink, ideally water, between each alcoholic beverage to limit your intake.
2. Have a meal before you start drinking
Have a meal before you start drinking and choose low energy density foods. Filling up on foods that provide few calories is a good way to reduce your overall energy consumption. Vegetables and fruit are ideal for this and are also highly nutritious.
3. Cut back on how much you drink
But if you are totally serious about losing that belly fat, we encourage anyone to rethink their drinking habits. Alcohol consumption will lead to a larger waistline and a bigger belly!
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