Question: Does Alcohol Consumption Impact Weight Loss When Dieting?
Answer: You can eat a perfect diet and work out until you’re blue in the face and still have a difficult time losing fat if you're not careful with alcohol consumption.
First, alcohol has 7 calories per gram, almost as much as fat (9 calories per gram) and nearly twice as many calories as a gram of carbohydrate or protein (4 calories per gram). So even just a couple of drinks can set you back as much as 300-400 calories, which will make creating that critical calorie deficit very challenging.
In addition, when you consume alcohol at the same time as food, your body tends to burn the alcohol first, sparing the fat. The more alcohol you consume, the more likely some of your food will be stored as fat and studies show that alcohol not only makes people hungrier but it also lowers their inhibitions so they are more likely to binge or make unwise food choices. The more you drink, the less you care about what you are eating and how it might be sabotaging your progress.
This is not to say you have to cut out alcohol altogether. Alcohol, just like fat and sugar, can be consumed in moderation. If you drink regularly, we suggest cutting back to a glass every other night, or a glass on the weekends, or only when you go out to eat. There are ways to minimize the impact alcohol has on your diet. If you’re going to indulge, please consider these suggestions:
1. Choose a light beer over some of the heavy microbrews. Several lite beers now have as few as 55 calories in a 12-oz. bottle, whereas some microbrews have more than 200 calories!
2. Try an all-natural diet soda (e.g., Hansens), diet tonic, Crystal Light, or seltzer instead of sugary mixers such as juice, regular soda, or syrup in mixed drinks. That can save you 200 to 300 calories or more per cocktail.
For example, lemon Crystal Light, fresh squeezed lime or orange juice, and a little tequila will offer a lot less calories of a traditional margarita because you’re cutting out all the sugar and calories from the mixer. Some margaritas have more than 500 calories and close to 100 grams of sugar! But a Crystal Lite margarita has less than 100 calories, and it tastes really good.
3. Wine isn’t the worst choice, as it has fewer calories than many cocktails and most all microbrews. However, consuming 3 or 4 glasses means a lot of additional calories, so watch your intake. Don’t forget the water. For every alcoholic drink you have, drink at least one extra glass of water. This will help your body metabolize the alcohol and may counteract some of the dehydrating effects of the alcohol on the body, such as next-day hangovers.
It takes your liver 1 hour to process and metabolize 1 ounce of alcohol, so space your drinks out accordingly. The less you overload the liver, the better it will be able to process the alcohol and work on any fats waiting to be broken down. If you plan on going out with friends for a drink or two, plan accordingly and eat fewer calories throughout the day and try to be a more active as well to help maintain a calorie deficit.
One last word about alcohol. In general, alcohol has few, if any, nutrients; that’s why they’re called empty calories. If you’re getting 500 calories from a few beers, for example, it means that you’ll be missing that same amount in beneficial nutrients that support fat loss, muscle building or preservation, and good health in general, such as fiber, protein, and vitamins and minerals.
So, for maximum weight loss, keep your drinking to a minimum and only indulge once in a while. If you follow these tips, I’m certain your results will go from “okay” to “fantastic” in no time at all!
Answered by: FITera
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