I have to kick off this post by saying that I’m not judging anyone for drinking. Heck, I have cocktails as a planned indulgence, too. So let’s be clear that this is not a “do as I say, not as I do” situation. I just want to share some information about alcohol and weight loss so you can make an informed choice.
I will never tell any of my clients that they should “never” drink alcohol again. Hey, if it’s your birthday and you want to have some wine, go ahead!
But truthfully, regular consumption of alcohol may slow down your weight-loss progress. If you’re used to having a glass of wine at dinner each night, you can probably forget about losing those 10 lbs. before your vacation next month. Why? Read on for 3 reasons alcohol is not your weight-loss friend.
Reason #1: It’s Basically Poison
Here’s the thing: When you drink alcohol, your body uses it as a “priority fuel” until all of it has been removed from your body. What? It’s like a poison your body wants to expel as quickly as possible. So when you consume adult beverages, rather than metabolizing fat, your liver goes into full-on “get rid of the poison” mode. This means that when you have a drink, your fat-burning furnace is shut off for about 6-8 hours while your liver burns out the alcohol.
You read that right: I said a drink. As in, one drink.
Logically, if you take the number of drinks you normally drink in a week and have all of them on Saturday and Sunday, your fat loss would be better (note: we’re talking about fat loss NOT drunkenness) if all other things are equal. Instead of your fat-burning furnace being turned off 6-8 hours per day, it may be turned off for 12-16 hours over the weekend.
So mathematically it makes sense. But if you’re drinking that much at once, can all other things really be equal?
Reason #2: All the Junk Food
As a part of your lowered inhibitions, alcohol dramatically increases the likelihood that you’re going to nibble on food unplanned or fall face first into some late night pizza.
That is why alcohol is not your friend! It’s true – alcohol can stimulate your appetite and cause you to eat way too many calories of junk food.
We’ve all had those mornings where we wake up and walk into the kitchen only to find fast food wrappers scattered all over the counter. “Oh, no I didn’t!” is usually the first thought. Who ever went on a drunken fast-food binge and felt happy when they remembered what they had done the next morning? No one!
When you drink, your food inhibitions are washed away in a sea of alcohol. You’re just not going to make good food choices, period. End of story. If there’s a little part of your brain that likes junk food but you don’t let yourself have it normally, as soon as the alcohol kicks in, that’s where you lose your inhibitions.
My recommendation is: Eat your pizza when you’re sober so you can truly enjoy it and remember the experience.
Reason #3: Not All Drinks are Equal
If you’re not willing to give up your alcohol, having 1-2 drinks a couple times a week probably isn’t going to throw off your healthy living and weight loss goals. I’m not a huge fan of regular drinking while attempting to lose weight, but the truth is, when I was first working to lose weight, I continued with a nightly glass of wine after my kids went to bed for some time and continued to lose weight.
If you are going to imbibe while trying to lose weight, make sure to avoid any cocktails with calorie-laden mixers. A pina colada can send the scale skyrocketing. A good rule of thumb is if it has an umbrella in it, you won’t look good in a bikini. Keep the alcohol on the rocks or mixed with soda water and a fresh lime or lemon wedge.