Are any of my friends in the booze business? I’d be curious to see how sales have been in 2020. My guess is that liquor sales have gone through the roof. I mean.. no judgement. But that’s just my theory.
With the holidays fast approaching, there’s been one resounding question I keep getting from my clients: can I drink alcohol, and if so, how much?
Well, I mean.. which answer do you want me to give you? Alcohol and weight loss don’t really go hand in hand, and I feel I could go in so many directions with this answer, and depending who I’m talking to, sometimes I do. Ha. But the truth of it is, we’re all adults. So it’s up to you to decide if you want to have a drink, and if so, how many. If you’re working on a body re-composition goal, however, it’s important to know that alcohol can have some serious effects on your progress.
So, as you’re opening that bottle of wine for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or next Tuesday.. here are 3 facts about alcohol and weight loss to keep in mind, and… they may surprise you.
3 Facts About Alcohol and Weight Loss That Might Surprise You
Alcohol Can Cause Excess Fat Storage
We all like to joke about the dreaded beer gut, but guys – it’s a real thing. When you consume a diet high in foods that are composed mostly of simple sugars (think: candy, cake, soda), and BEER – the extra calories get stored as fat in our bodies.
While your genetic predisposition plays a role in how and where you store fat, the chances are higher that excess fat stores will end up in your abdomen. Aka: beer gut.
Alcohol Can Affect Digestion And How Your Body Absorbs Nutrients
When you drink, alcohol can have some serious effects on your digestive function. Alcohol places stress on your digestive system which can lead to an increase in the digestive secretions your body produces. These secretions are a vital part of our digestive process; they’re what helps break down the food we eat into basic micronutrients that are absorbed and used by our body. When this process is inhibited, our digestion can go all out of whack. Further, alcohol use (especially over long periods of time) can change how our body metabolizes and stores carbohydrates, which can lead to increased fat storages vs. burning through carbs as fuel. When you consume alcohol, your body can actually stop being able to burn through fat for up to 48 hours. So if you’ve been trying to lose weight, having a drink socially on the weekends could actually be slowing your progress.
Alcohol Contains Empty Calories + Leads To Impaired Judgement
The calories in alcohol are considered “empty” because they contain very little nutritional value. So, when you’re drinking, the calories you’re taking in aren’t being used for anything beneficial within your body, and instead, are being stored as fat. In addition, the more you drink, the less likely you are to care about your nutrition. I think we’ve all been there: a few drinks in and all of a sudden an order of cheese fries magically appear before our eyes. Will one or two drinks hurt you overall? No, probably not (if you’re drinking responsibly). But when two drinks lead to a late night Taco Bell drive-thru, that’s then you’ll start to see some serious side effects show up on the scale.
Tricks to Keep in Mind…
If you do decide the occasional adult beverage is in the cards, then here are some quick tips and tricks to keep in mind:
- Drink a LOT of water. This includes before drinking, during, and after – especially the next day. Water will help flush out any water retention the alcohol might cause.
- Limit yourself to 2 drinks, max. You’ll be of sound mind and able to make better decisions that way.
- Keep an eye on the “extras.” Things like your mixers; juices and sodas can be packed full of sugar and extra calories and trust me, they add up quick.
One more thing…
I really think it’s worth mentioning that you don’t have to drink. Like, ever. But if you do, that’s okay, too. Just keep in mind that if you’re attending family get togethers or social events, please don’t feel the need to explain yourself if you choose to order a sparkling water vs. a Goose and tonic. I think, for whatever reason, we’ve placed this pressure on adults to drink socially. That the “normal” thing to do is to drink, and if you’re not drinking, there must be this big glaring reason. Either you have a drinking problem, or – if you’re a woman, you must be pregnant. If you’re abstaining from alcohol, for whatever the reason may be – (and please know, whatever that reason is, it’s NO ONE’S business), then that’s the end. Period. You don’t owe anyone an explanation, and not drinking IS normal.
2020 has been a year of not drinking for me. It actually started in 2019. I was training for the half marathon and those 4:30 am wake up calls become a lot harder when you’ve had one too many margaritas the night before. So I kind of got into the habit of not drinking, and found that I really like the way I feel on a consistent basis when I haven’t been partaking. Having said that, I’m sure I’ll have a glass of wine at some point. Or maybe even another margarita again. But for now, I’m enjoying this period of my life that doesn’t involve an alcohol-induced headache, or the feeling of sluggishness that invariably comes whether I’ve had one or one too many.
So for those of you who have been asking, “Will I lose weight if I stop drinking?” the answer is – most likely, yes.
Natasha Funderburk is a wife, #boymom, NASM-Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutrition Consultant, and ACE-Behavior Change Specialist. When not watching her son play baseball, she can be found on various writing platforms, coaching her clients to live their best lives, drinking all the coffee, and conducting living-room dance parties.