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Alcohol & Fat Loss
By Our #1 Stillorgan Personal Trainer
19th October 2016
It may sound surprising that there are some alcoholic products that do not interfere with fat loss and may contribute to your health when taken in the proper amounts. Alcohol is difficult to categorize when it comes to its effect on the body. A little alcohol each day offers some benefits while a lot can cause serious issues. For men, the consumption of alcohol as part of a weight-loss protocol is possible if you understand the mechanics of how it works in the body.
#1 Alcohol Does Not Make You Fat
Technically speaking, alcohol is a macronutrient that contains about seven calories per gram. However, it is not the type of energy that you can burn in the same manner as proteins, carbs or fats. While it does not cause the body to store excess fat, it does interfere with the body’s ability to burn the fat that is present. However, that effect can be difficult to see when comparing individuals who drink and those who do not.
Your body views alcohol as a poison that must be removed which in turn causes a considerable number of calories to be expended to remove the substance. It may seem that the extra expenditure of calories by those who consume alcohol means that more fat is being burned. However, in studies that compare drinkers to non-drinkers, there was no weight loss difference. What happened was that the consumption of alcohol suppressed the body’s ability to burn away the dietary fat. So, you do burn more calories, but you wind up keeping more fat.
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#2 The Effects of Alcohol
How alcohol affects your body will depend on several factors that include, but are not limited to the following;
- How much you consume
- The type of alcohol you drink
- What you eat along with the alcohol
There is little doubt that heavy drinkers are affected considerably by the effects of alcohol which includes the reduction of the synthesis of muscle proteins after training. This means that if you engage in resistance or weight training, the ability of your muscles to recover and grow will be greatly reduced. However, those who drink in moderation seemingly are not affected.
Hard liquor choices are out in terms of losing weight. This is because the alcohol content is too high for the body to overcome which makes it counterproductive for your weight-loss efforts. The occasional drink will have little to no effect. Considering beer and wine are the most commonly consumed alcohol beverages, we will talk about them next.
#3 Beer & Wine
The two most common alcoholic beverages are beer and wine. On the surface, it may appear that wine is the better choice. After all, wine comes from grapes which is a fruit and good for the body. However, beer has several attributes as well which makes it a good drink in moderation.
Both red wine and beer have polyphenols which help protect the heart. Wine from the grapes and beer from the hops and barley. In addition, the alcohol content of beer and wine help prevent blood clots which is good for the heart. Beer does contain several healthy nutrients such as the following;
- B5 and B12
- Niacin and Folate
- Selenium and Silicon
Wine has a different set of nutrients which are good for the body as well.
- Calcium and Iron
- Magnesium and Potassium
- Manganese and Zinc
In the category of which has the fewer calories, it is beer that surprisingly wins out. This is arguably because wine has more alcohol per serving compared to beer. However, it should be noted that wine contains resveratrol which blocks the building of estrogen and lowering the blood sugar. Beer does not contain any resveratrol, but the amount that wine has is negligible unless you drink a lot of it each day and that will have its own complications.
#4 Tips on Consuming Alcohol
It should be noted that the best approach is to take alcohol consumption in moderation. The goal is to gain the benefits of the fat-burning by augmenting what you drink with the right types of meals.
Reduce Carbs & Fats: If you are having a beer or glass of wine at lunch or dinner, load up on protein and vegetables. This will reduce the negative effects of the fat burning process by taking away the carbs and fats that wind up being stored in your body. By adjusting your diet in this manner, you can maximise the chances for burning fat at the right time. Save the carbs and fats for breakfast, but when you are eating a salad and lean meats, having a beer or glass of wine is a good compliment.
Avoid Mixed Drinks: Straight hard liquor is one thing to savour from time to time, but mixed drinks are loaded with sugar. This means that you’ll not only store more fat, but drink more often thanks to the effects of the sugar.
Keep Intake Below .5g/kg: Consuming alcohol is a balance issue between drinking enough to gain the positive effects without going overboard. So, keep it around .5g/kg and you’ll do fine.
Drink after Weight Training: It is not advised that if you are to consume alcohol, the best time is after a workout, as your body is still burning calories. Here, you can drink a little more after a hard workout, but keep it below 1g/kg.
The key to combining alcohol with your diet and workout routine is to know when to drink and with what meals to drink with to get the beneficial effects. This means no late nights out drinking yourself stupid with the lads. Instead, you will want to moderate your consumption of alcohol so that you get the most beneficial effects.