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The Truth About Alcohol

16.12.2014

Do alcohol calories count more than ordinary ones?

Having three ounces of alcohol, the equivalent to a double vodka, reduces fat burning by a third for up to 48 hours!

If you love drinking and you love fat burning, then this poses something of a dilemma. To lose weight you need to stop drinking. There are also a number of other health benefits to make it worthwhile cutting back or giving up the booze altogether.

 

Why drinking alcohol is a sure way to keep hold of the fat..

Alcohol is mostly sugar. You could say that when you drink a glass of wine, you are drinking a glass of sugar. But the scary truth is that not only is alcohol laden with empty calories (calories with no nutritional value), it also inhibits the burning of ordinary calories and the burning of body fat.

Official statistics say the majority of people need to lose weight. They also show that 65% of British men are overweight or obese and 56% of British women are overweight or obese. Health officials are always looking for ways to tell us to stop drinking, and publishing these statistics may help them achieve that.

However, it is worth remembering that moderate drinking is linked with a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes and has also shown to increase levels of 'good' HDL cholesterol. Moderate drinking is one small glass of wine a day (preferably red, for its cholesterol reducing properties).

It is also worth noting that the amount alcohol affects your figure and health depends on your genetics, diet, gender and habits.

When you drink alcohol, it is broken down into acetate (basically vinegar). The body burns this before any other calorie you’ve consumed or stored, this includes fat and sugar. Therefore, if you consume more calories than you need, you're more likely to store fat from the food you have eaten and any soft drink you have consumed because your body is getting its energy (fuel) from the acetate in the alcohol you drank. Studies show that alcohol inhibits 'lipid oxidation' - in other words, when alcohol is in your system, it's harder for your body to burn the fat that's already there.

This does not mean that you cannot drink moderately and lose weight, although your weight loss will slow down. Consider that a glass of wine is approximately 150 calories and statistics prove that we also eat about 20% more when we drink with a meal.

It’s true that alcohol does not necessarily equal overweight men and women. Numerous studies have found that women who are light drinkers tend to have a lower body mass index than their teetotal or heavy-drinking counterparts. However, take this data with a pinch of salt - it could be that women who drink moderately have other healthy habits that keep their weight in check, or perhaps unhealthy habits by way of foregoing nutritious food for an alcoholic drink!  

 

And there’s more..

Metabolic studies of chronic alcohol abusers have turned up something interesting. If you drink enough you pass a threshold after which a certain portion of your alcohol calories are 'free'. Basically you do so much damage to your liver that it can't process alcohol any more and you 'waste' the calories or store them in your liver, giving yourself a disease called fatty liver which can lead to cirrhosis and death if a high alcohol consumption is maintained.

Habitual excessive alcohol consumption has long been linked to an increased hip-to-waist ratio. Brand new research shows, however, that even infrequent binge drinking can thicken your middle. A slim middle reduces your risk of heart disease. For men the ratio should not be over 0.90 and for women that figure is 0.85. The higher your ratio, the greater your risk of heart disease. To work out your waist-to-hip ratio, simply divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement.

 

So what are you to do if you want your wine and a slim middle?

Consider your genetic risk for heart disease versus cancer (even moderate drinking has been shown to increase the risk of cancer, particularly breast cancer) – whether you're willing to make the necessary calorie cuts in your diet to make room for the alcohol calories, and if you're able to drink moderately. Here's the truth – if you want to drink moderately you will improve your cholesterol level, but you will get those calories. If you want to be a heavy drinker, you may not store as many calories but you probably won't get the benefits to your heart. Personally I've always gone with my heart.

 

The quickest way to lose weight..

If you want to lose weight and are of the mind that having excess fat hanging around is boring and needs to be dealt with then the simplest solution is to follow a good, well balanced, weight loss plan and give up drinking until you have reached your goal weight. This makes the whole process far quicker and therefore you are less likely to become bored and more likely to succeed in your weight loss quest than give up half way through.

Once you are there, consider the re-introduction of alcohol. Consider your genetic make up, your risk for heart disease, cancer and other diseases. To put your mind at rest take medical advice and then make your decision about re-introducing booze.

 

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