One of the most common principles of many diet plans today is that you have to cut down on your alcohol consumption or avoid it altogether if you wish to lose weight properly.
In the public mind, alcohol is very much tied to weight gain (hence the term Beer Belly) but is this really the case? Does alcohol make you fat or not?
While there are a number of conflicting studies on the matter: some find a connection between alcohol and weight gain and some don’t, not to mention the French paradox of why the French are deemed to be very thin despite consuming a lot of red wine, alcohol does pose a significant threat to any fat loss process.
There are a number of reasons for this and I’ll go over them all right here in this short article:
Why Alcohol Makes You Fat
1. Alcohol is calorie rich
1 gram of alcohol contains 7 calories. This is much more than the 4 calories that are found in 1 gram of carbohydrates or protein. It is a bit lower than the 9 calories contained in a gram of fat, but considering how many grams of alcohol can be found in a bottle of beer or a glass of wine or a shot of Vodka, you’ll see that by drinking alcohol, you’re adding a ton of calories to your diet. These calories will translate into fat making it harder for you to maintain your current weight.
So, the first reason why alcohol makes you fat is that it is rich in calories.
2. Alcohol and munchies
Let’s face it, most people don’t just drink. They drink and munch on something at the same time. This is why bars always offer pretzels, nuts, or other oily stuff to go along with the liquor you’re consuming.
Alcohol creates a craving for food. This craving is something that causes people who drink to eat a lot of extra food that they shouldn’t have had in the first place. This adds even more calories to their diet creating an indirect calorie surplus which can cause weight gain quite easily.
So, the second reason why drinking alcohol make you fat
In addition, you should note that alcoholic drinks usually contain very little nutrients of their own. They don’t really give your body anything that it can use to function properly. This means that you will have to eat food on top of the alcohol to function. Did anyone say more calories?
3. Alcohol is first in line
Imagine that the nutrients in your body are standing in line to be burned off by you. What would you like to burn first? Fat, of course!
The more fat you burn in your natural activity, the leaner you will look. The problem is that when you have alcohol inside of you, it immediately jumps to the head of the line.
When alcohol enters your body it is broken up into acetate and fat. The fat gets stored away and the acetate is used as your primary source of energy.
Your body first burns off the alcohol calories. Only afterward does it get to the fat, carbs, and protein that you have inside of you. A sure way to delay the fat burning process is to drink alcohol. You’re actually stopping fat from being melted away.
4. Alcohol Causes Lethargy
There’s little doubt that alcohol can make you drowsy and lethargic, not the best thing for someone who wants to burn more calories. Alcohol slows you down, makes you heavy, and doesn’t support an active lifestyle. Again, this is an indirect consequence of drinking, but it does affect your chances of losing fat and it can make you gain weight.
5. The Low Carb Alcohol Lie
One of the latest marketing ploys made by marketers of alcoholic beverages is labeling them as low in carbs. This immediately creates an atmosphere surrounding them as if drinking these beverages will help you lose weight or not gain weight (although nothing that explicit is ever written).
The truth is that nearly all alcoholic drinks (at least those to which nothing is added) are low in carbs, so having a low carb drink is a bit of a ploy since they’re all that way.
For instance, distilled alcohol like vodka has zero grams of carbs. A glass of red wine has 1-2 grams. Even beer has just 13 grams of carbs (a light beer has much less). So, most “low carb” alcoholic drinks offer no benefit whatsoever to you. They’re just as fattening as the rest of them.
I’m not saying that you should give up on alcohol entirely. Red wine, for instance does have its benefits as it’s rich in antioxidants. In addition, mild drinking has been shown to have some health benefits. However, you do need to exercise moderation and sound judgment. You need to choose the low-calorie drinks and don’t binge drink.
In addition, don’t replace food with alcohol, this is the road to serious health issues. You must also avoid eating too many of the foods that usually accompany alcohol like salted peanuts or pretzels. These are just sources of empty calories that you can and should do without. Often, it is not the alcohol itself that makes you fat. It’s what you eat with it and the lack of activity that it may drive you to.