Thursday, 12 March 2015

The Truth About Alcohol

Going out and socialising wouldn't be the same without alcohol. But for those of us with an agenda to lose weight, adding alcohol to the equation makes this a tough thing to do. Here’s why:

Alcohol is the second most potent source of calories  Partying with alcohol is fun because we like feeling intoxicated, but this intoxication comes with a calorific price tag. One gram of alcohol is 7 calories, which is more than one gram of carbohydrate (4 calories) and protein (4 calories).

We don’t burn extra calories to metabolize alcohol  Not like we do from digesting carbs, fat and protein. This phenomenon, called the “thermic effect of food”, refers to the energy we use to digest food into small, absorbable components. Because alcohol is so easy to absorb, it enters our bloodstream without burning any extra calories!

Your liver does the dirty work  Because alcohol is seen as a toxin, the liver prioritizes metabolizing alcohol first, which means you won’t be burning calories from other sources while that happens. The liver is only able to clear alcohol at a rate of around one ounce per hour, which is why consuming more than this will leave you feeling tipsy.

Alcohol makes your blood sugar drop, making you want to reach for carbs  The liver helps keep our blood sugar steady, but a liver busy at work metabolizing alcohol can’t do this effectively, causing your blood sugar to drop and stay low until the alcohol is metabolized. This explains why you crave carbs and wake up the next day with a headache.

Alcohol calories that aren’t burned will be stored as fat  This is true for all extra calories eaten no matter the source, but what makes alcohol calories worse is that they are stored in your liver first. It takes time for the liver to ship out the alcohol-induced fat for proper storage in your fat cells. If the liver doesn’t do this fast enough (or if you drink too much, too often) the fat stays stuck in your liver and around your abdomen giving you what we refer to as a “beer belly.”

This of course doesn’t mean that you need to completely dodge all social occasions. Here are some tips to help you drink more responsibly, both for your health and fitness goals:

1. Pour yourself half as much. This will help you limit yourself to one or two drinks per party.
2. Avoid higher calorie mixed drinks like eggnog, margaritas, mudslides, or other sugary mixed drinks.
3. Alternate between having alcohol and water to stay well hydrated.
4. Sip slowly and take the time of enjoy your alcoholic beverage.
5. Keep your alcohol budget at or below 200 calories. Pick these lower calorie alcohol alternatives:
  • Red or white wine: 5 ounces | Calories; 125, Carbohydrate: 4g
  • Light beer: 12 ounces | Calories: 100; Carbohydrate: 5g
  • Champagne: 5 ounces | Calories: 100; Carbohydrate: 1g
  • Vodka, whiskey, rum or gin: 1.5 ounces | Calories: 96; Carbohydrate: 0g

If you live in Sutton Coldfield or any of the surrounding areas and would like more advice on this and any other related exercise issues please get in touch with your Home Trainer Sutton Coldfield!

Rich Palmer PT
“making your fitness goals a reality”