Could Reducing Alcohol Be the Key to Weight Loss?

This month I am featuring an article by Health and Wellness Writer, Helen Young.  Over the years many of my clients have wondered whether a healthy diet is compatible with occasional or regular alcohol consumption. I hope you find this guidance helpful–Sharon 

If you are committed to eating a healthy diet and are still struggling to lose weight then it could well be that instead of focusing on what you eat, you should also focus on what you drink. Research has shown that consuming just three ounces of alcohol reduces the efficiency of your body’s ability to burn fat by a third: not only does this mean that your consuming extra calories when you consume alcohol but also that you will be less able to process those extra calories. So how exactly does alcohol consumption inhibit weight loss? Well research shows that alcohol temporarily inhibits your “lipid oxidation”; this means that your body finds it harder to oxidinate the fat in your lipid system, making it much more difficult to burn any fat that your body already contains. This means that that glass of wine that you consume each evening, or the cocktail or two that you enjoy at the weekend could contribute to preventing your weight loss.

The Calorie Content of Alcohol

While the calorie content of your favorite drink viewed in isolation may not be particularly concerning, many alcoholic beverages contain high amounts of sugar: this is true if you favor cocktails which tend to be mixed with sugary fruit juices or syrupy sodas. Cutting out alcohol isn’t easy, particularly if it is your only vice. Like pulling off a band aid, you simply have to go cold turkey and make the decision to stop your alcohol consumption entirely, detoxing your body of the harmful chemicals that alcohol contains. (Separately, but related, is the importance of detoxing your mind while you are cleaning up your body:  click here for a fascinating article.)

You may well be surprised by how many calories you are consuming each month purely in the alcohol that you drink: individuals who consider themselves to be average normal wine drinkers actually consume an additional 2,000 calories a month. That’s the equivalent to eating 141 ice cream cones over the course of a year. If you would be reluctant to consume such a large amount of ice cream and are focusing on achieving your weight loss goals then you should certainly consider cutting alcohol from your weekly diet.

The Health Impact of Alcohol Consumption

With so much research surrounding alcohol consumption, it can be difficult for the average consumer to know what to do. We have been told that excessive alcohol consumption can increase your cancer risk, while moderate alcohol consumption (particularly consumption of red wine) can reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Additional research has shown that alcohol can lower your risk of developing diabetes, can increase the risk of fetal anomalies during pregnancy, and can have a negative impact on both your long term and short term memory when consumed in excess.

The fact is that occasional consumption of moderate amounts of alcohol should not cause any long term damage to your health, however it will also not aid your weight loss goals. When under the influence of alcohol, some individuals are much more likely to make bad food choices, or forgo regular exercise. If you’re serious about losing weight and maximizing your physical and mental health then it might be worth evaluating whether less or no alcohol would benefit you.

By Helen Young

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