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Corporate Wellness

Is Alcohol Making Me Gain Weight?

That drink or two after work with cohorts may seem innocent enough, but they also can be the reason you gain weight or the reason weight loss is harder. Part of the reason is the calories in the drink, but the other part is how the body digests the alcohol. Increased alcohol intake can also increase your risk of liver disease and bring an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Some alcoholic beverages have health benefits.

You may have heard that a glass of red wine a day provides resveratrol, which is a powerful antioxidant. Drinking in moderation may actually improve immune functioning, provide heart healthy benefits and even lower the risk of dementia. Not all alcoholic drinks provide anything beneficial to your body, except calories. In fact, there are no studies that would remotely lead you to believe that drinking alcohol can help you lose weight.

You’ll slow the fat burning process when you drink alcoholic beverages.

The body burns off the alcohol first, before burning other nutrients. That impairs how glucagon is used. Glucagon is the hormone that increases blood glucose levels as it breaks down fat. The body considers the alcohol poison, so it sets about eliminating it. When doing that, it’s not doing other processes, which means it’s not burning fat. Burning off the calories of alcohol causes blood glucose levels to drop and leaves you feeling hungry, even though you just consumed a high amount of calories.

When you’re trying to lose weight, you want to avoid empty calories.

Empty calories provide nothing but energy to fuel the cells or for storage. Aside from red wine, which contains resveratrol and drinks made with fruit juices, there are few nutrients that drinks provide. When you consume alcohol, as noted before, the body uses the calories in the alcohol first with all other calories being stored as fat. For women past menopause or those with low estrogen levels, the excess weight starts to form around the middle as belly fat. That’s because of an enzyme called Aldh1a1.

  • Drinking alcohol can make you feel hungry. It causes a sudden drop in glucose levels, which sends a signal to your brain that you’re starving. You eat more when you drink before or during a meal.
  • The increased alcohol consumption and spikes in insulin levels, not only cause insulin resistance that makes gaining weight easier, but also causes it to be more difficult to lose weight.
  • If you’re trying to build muscle tissue, drinking alcohol can also impede that. It not only lowers your metabolism but can reduce testosterone levels. The lower your testosterone, the harder it is to build muscle tissue.
  • One gram of alcohol has twice the calories as a gram of protein and far more than a gram of many carbohydrates. If you think fat is fattening at 9 calories per gram, you should also look at alcohol at 7 calories per gram.

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