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Alcohol and Weight Loss
Can you Drink Alcohol and Lose Weight?

Can you drink alcohol on a diet?
Can you drink alcohol on a diet?

Losing weight is tricky when alcohol is involved. Our bodies don't have any mechanism to store alcohol. There's also no way for our bodies to turn alcohol into body fat.

So if we can't store it and we can't turn it into fat, why do people who regularly drink alcohol tend to put on weight and have a much more difficult time dieting? Here's what's happening.

Alcohol is a poison. When you drink, your body must get rid of the poison first. Between 20% and 30% of the alcohol molecules diffuse directly through the stomach wall and go straight into the bloodstream. That reaches the brain and liver in minutes. The remaining alcohol is taken in through the small intestine and then shuttled directly to the liver.

Your liver then gets busy eliminating that alcohol first. Any foods you may have eaten are turned into fat, held onto until the alcohol is digested and then carried away for permanent fat storage. If you're trying to lose weight, you want to get energy from food, not have it stored as fat.

Alcohol also inhibits the action of a hormone called glucagon. Normally, the pancreas produces glucagon, which triggers the liver to release stored sugars. Those sugars give us more energy to complete the things we're doing, and it's how some of our body fat is broken down.

Drinking alcohol stops glucagon from working properly, and our fat-burning abilities drop dramatically. But that's not all.

Alcohol is an appetite stimulant. The more we drink, the hungrier we get because glucagon drops blood sugar levels. When blood sugar drops, we tend to get tired, hungry and irritable. That makes high-calorie, low-quality foods look pretty appetizing because they provide a quick insulin boost.

The more you drink, the more that alcohol tends to loosen inhibitions. If you're hungry and have a drink, you're less likely to be careful about your food choices for the rest of the night.

So how does something we can't store as fat make us fat? It's all about the calories. Eat regular food, and it's slowly digested in the stomach while your body draws out energy, vitamins and minerals. Drink some alcohol, and your body stores all the food you've eaten as fat.

Here's how much some typical drinks will set you back. There are seven calories per gram of alcohol. But drinks have different levels of alcohol in them.

If you pour yourself a "serving" of red or white wine (5 fluid ounces), it's about 125 calories. A 12-ounce bottle of Budweiser beer has 145 calories in it. Three fluid ounces of gin is 192 calories, while three fluid ounces of vodka will set you back 218 calories.

The things your body NORMALLY would use as energy get stored as fat so the alcohol can be processed. Just two glasses of gin will help your body hang onto 384 calories that you would typically burn off. The fat isn't from the alcohol; it's from the food your body hangs onto while trying to clear the poison from your system.

The real-world consequences are much worse than a couple of hundred extra calories. Researchers looked at the eating and drinking habits of 2,042 members of the U.K. weight-loss organization Slimming World. They found the day AFTER women drank too much, they ate an average of 2,051 EXTRA calories.

Women took in 1,476 EXTRA calories from the alcohol and another 2,829 EXTRA calories in food the night they drank too much. That's 6,300 total extra calories!

The damage extended to their fitness routine. Half of the women surveyed said they skipped their workout the day after the excess alcohol. The point of no return for many women was just 2.7 large glasses of wine.

Alcohol can be fun. There are tasty concoctions that can bring relaxation after a stressful day. But if you've got a weight problem, alcohol may be one of those indulgences you need to seriously cut back on or eliminate before you'll see progress.

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