If you like to drink but want to be an educated drinker when it comes to the effect of alcohol on your body’s ability to burn fat, this article is for you. Let’s delve into the physiology behind alcohol consumption and talk about ways to reduce its negative impact on your health.
What Happens When You Drink Alcohol?
Your body responds to the ingestion of alcohol the way it would respond to your ingesting a poison. Since alcohol itself has no nutritional value & cannot be digested or used for any kind of function, its elimination takes precedence over dozens of other bodily functions, like the maintenance of blood sugar levels, the production and secretion of certain hormones, and the mobilization of fat for fuel.
The alcohol travels into your bloodstream quickly, setting off a series of reactions in the brain that give you that nice relaxed, walking on air feeling. Via the bloodstream, alcohol makes its way to the liver for metabolization. Since your liver can only metabolize so much alcohol at a time, if the rate of consumption outpaces the liver’s ability to metabolize, your blood alcohol level rises & you become increasingly intoxicated. The key issue here is that alcohol metabolism decreases your basal metabolic rate for many hours after alcohol consumption & can also provide the loopy state of mind needed to indulge in ‘drunk food’- unhealthy, high-calorie foods that you would usually avoid when sober.
What types of drinks are best?
Drinking alcohol regularly is going to earn you a belly regardless of what type you drink. For one, alcohol is very estrogenic; it mimics the hormone estrogen & therefore manipulates normal hormone levels in both men & women, providing both sexes with the extra appetite, mood swings, and body fat associated with high levels of this sex hormone. Read my article on estrogen-dominance for more information.
I have snagged a pretty good infographic that illustrates the sugar and alcohol content of some popular drinks:
Drinks that have high sugar content 1)get you drunk more quickly 2)pack a huge calorie punch. The worst culprits would be fruity mixed drinks & beer. The majority of their calorie content comes from sugar; drinking these types of beverages even a few times a week really adds up.
Other Factors to Watch Out For
Since alcohol consumption negatively affects muscle repair, if you are committed to training & to living a healthier lifestyle, alcohol just isn’t in the picture. There’s no way around it. It is extra, useless calories you don‘t need, it raises the level of a hormone that makes lowering your body fat next to impossible(1) & decreases the hormone you need to build muscle(2).
That being said, if you want to drink & want to minimize the affect on your body composition, your best bet is to go with hard liquor on ice or mixed with a diet soda. Beer, wine, and mixed drinks will only make the aftermath worse!
1. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research Volume 17, Issue 4, pages 786–790, August 1993
2. Gordon GG, Altman K, Southren AL, Rubin E, Lieber CS The New England Journal of Medicine [1976, 295(15):793-797]