By Kennedy Shelley
Just how much does alcohol consumption affect your weight?
Back in the 1960’s Robert Cameron published a widely popular diet book called the Drinking Man’s Diet.
Surprisingly it was effective at helping people lose weight because it was essentially a low carbohydrate way of eating.
Alcohol, and especially distilled spirits have no carbohydrates.
This seems absolutely counterintuitive because it comes from grain which is all carbohydrates, but the process of distillation and fermentation kills the sugars.
There are calories in alcohol, but alcohol itself is its own food group. It is neither fat, protein or a carbohydrate.
Just drinking distilled alcohol alone won’t cause weight gain.
The problem is very few people drink pure distilled spirits, but instead mix them with sweetened beverages which do include carbs and boost insulin levels which does lead to weight gain.
The type of alcohol you consume also affects how it is absorbed. Not every calorie is a calorie. Some increase hormones such as leptin and insulin which control how many calories are stored as fat.
Beer and wine will cause more insulin in the blood, which increases your body’s tendency to store fat.
Drinking straight vodka or whiskey will not. They are similar in calories but processed very differently.
But the real problem with alcohol is how it is processed by the liver.
Alcohol is treated as a poison by the body, especially the liver. It is prioritized first for elimination.
So, if you have a drink with dinner, the alcohol will be broken down first, and then the liver will work with the nutritious food.
This is why so many chronic alcoholics who have engaged in long term drinking are so malnourished. Their liver gets damaged trying to process the alcohol and then can’t get other nutrients from food.
So, trying to lose weight by drinking heavily may work at making the number on the scale go down, but it is hardly a way to achieve optimum health.
But reducing your nutritional intake is only half the problem. When you imbibe, you also get relaxed at your ability to say “no” to sweets and other items not on your diet goes down.
Let’s face it, how many times have you wondered where the bag of chips went after you were drinking on the couch binge watching a TV show?
And let’s face it, no one wants to exercise when they are enjoying an alcoholic buzz. Alcohol is a depressant drug which slows down your overall metabolism.
In short it is the cascade of effects that happen when you drink too much that tends to lead to the weight gain from drinking too much.
Another note, drinking too much alcohol tends to dehydrate you and messes up your ability to get deep restful sleep, both of which make you more vulnerable to viruses and bacteria which may not be what you want to be during a pandemic.
So, while having one or two of your favorite adult beverages a couple of times a week won’t affect your weight, but when you unleash the cascade of problems by drinking too much it will show up on the scale.
Since it is reported that alcohol sales have gone up over 60% since the lockdown started, it is probably a major reason why so many people are going to need to purchase bigger clothes in the coming weeks.