The Effects of Alcohol on Weight Loss

It is important to understand the effects of alcohol when it comes to losing weight. Whilst only a very small portion of the calories from alcohol are converted into fat (it is estimated to be less than 3%), alcohol will definitely slow down your fat-burning and weight-loss efforts. Therefore, it is important to be aware of your alcohol intake if you're serious about losing weight. Here are some facts about alcohol and fat burning:

The calories in alcohol are said to be 7.1 calories per gram. However, the true amount it contains is actually slightly less because alcohol induces a thermogenic response in the body when it is consumed. A 'thermogenic response' means that your metabolism speeds up!

Before we examine the effects of alcohol when it comes to weight loss, it is important to be aware that alcohol itself is an extremely addictive substance. If you feel that it is a problem for you help is available.

The Effects of Alcohol on Weight Loss

Even though alcohol may not be stored as body fat directly, it does slow down your fat-burning and weight-loss efforts via two mechanisms:

  • The liver converts alcohol into acetate, which is used as the primary fuel source by the body. This means less fat is used as a fuel

  • There is greater likelihood to convert excess daily calories into body fat because the body is getting its energy needs from the acetate.
  • One study in particular found that fat burning decreased by 73% when just two standard alcoholic drinks were consumed! Imagine the effects of alcohol on your fat-burning and weight-loss efforts if you have more than two standard drinks on a regular basis!

    Another way that alcohol may put the brakes on your fat-burning and weight-loss efforts is because it stimulates your appetite. Studies have shown that people tend to eat more food in a meal when they consume alcohol compared to other beverages. This means that not only do you get extra calories from the alcohol but also are likely to get extra calories from the food you consume. All these extra calories increase the likelihood of you gaining weight and fat!

    So the question remains: 'Can you drink alcohol and still burn fat and lose weight?' The answer is, 'Yes', but you need to be careful. The fact is that most people enjoy having the occasional drink and if you can limit your alcohol intake to just once a week then the effects of alcohol on your ability to lose weight is likely to be negligible.

    Plus, if you're only drinking once a week then you don't need to be too concerned about the type of alcoholic beverage you consume. Simply drink whatever you enjoy.

    If, however, you drink alcohol more than once a week then you need to seriously limit the amount you have and you may also want to be selective about the type of alcoholic beverage you consume. Since alcohol adds to your overall calorie intake, dramatically reduces your body's fat-burning ability and stimulates your appetite, it is absolutely essential that you control your intake. Ideally, only have one or two standard drinks.

    Also, you may want to select alcoholic drinks that have few calories. Low-carb beer, spirits with low-calorie mixers or spritzers (wine and water mix) are preferred options.

    Overall, the effects of alcohol on fat burning and weight loss are quite dramatic so if you're serious about getting the excess weight off quickly and want to avoid the weight gain that is associated with alcohol, then you may want to abstain from alcohol consumption for a period of time and then slowly re-introduce it into your lifestyle once your goal weight is achieved.

    If you would like to discover some strategies to help you reduce your drinking habit, please get a copy of How to Change Your Drinking: a Harm Reduction Guide to Alcohol (2nd edition).

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