Not losing those last few pounds, and having no success whittling your waist down those last few inches?
That bottle in the fridge or alcohol cupboard may be the problem...
Before we plough into the main facts that may seem to affect your weekend, let’s get back to basics and rewind back to the science lessons at school!
Alcohol, often referred to in its pure form as ethanol, is made from the fermentation of grains (hence why vodka can be made from potatoes). Fermentation is the process where sugars (carbohydrates) get turned into that great accompany to your choice of soft drink... alcohol.
It has an energy content of 7kcal/g, which if you compare to carbohydrate and protein is a fair bit more as they both have 4kcal/g. It is absorbed by your stomach but mostly by your small intestine. As you might have guessed, it goes straight into your bloodstream and affects all of your body's systems. For example, you might be wondering why you struggle to remember your name on a night out, this is because your favourite tipple depresses a system in your brain, slowing it all the way down.
Women are from Venus, men are from Mars
We all know we aren't from different planets, but why is it men seem to have a greater ability to consume ridiculous amounts of alcohol with all their pride in tack, whereas women just seem to end up clinging to their best friend moaning about their lost handbag contents?
It really isn’t because women are useless drinkers; it is purely down to the different physiology of a woman’s body compared to a man’s body – that’s right, they are different. Firstly, men have larger amounts of the alcohol enzyme in their bodies compared to women, meaning men break down the alcohol more. Secondly, men have a sneaky first metabolism point for the alcohol that women don’t have at all, meaning men can break down the alcohol earlier too.
Women have higher amounts of water in their bodies, meaning that even if two people of different sexes were drinking the same amount, the female would always have a higher alcohol level in her blood. So there are many reasons to blame alcohol for your midnight feast at the nearest kebab shop!
As mentioned above, alcohol yes does have calories (7kcal/g), which means that alcohol contributes to your daily intake of calories, which may be hugely affecting your weight and, even more importantly, your health.
Although alcohol has calories like fat, carbs and protein, it sadly does not offer any other nutrients to our body – that’s right, not a single one. This is where the term “empty calories” comes from, meaning your calories from drinking don’t offer your body any additional nourishment or elements that may help your body to carry out its normal functions. Also alcohol is a bit of strange one, as it does not go through the same processing as other food groups do, it just simply doesn’t take part in the normal mechanisms the body goes about, so may be given the term “unregulated energy”.
Every glass of wine or bottle of beer is adding to your total daily intake, meaning your total energy intake will only go up, as you're simply adding calories to your body. This in the long-term could add to a positive energy intake, meaning that you’re only going to gain weight. Any alcohol also stops fat being oxidised, which basically means that the fat doesn’t get broken down and used as energy – pretty much a disaster, if you ask me.
Notice that after a few nights out on the town, or a stressful week with copious amounts of wine your stomach may feel slightly bloated or even significantly bigger after that week away? The calories from alcohol that your bodies don’t use up, end up all around that lovely area of the stomach, making those skinny jeans near impossible to get into. To add even more to your problems, alcohol deviously acts on hormones making more fat deposit around the waist, and also causes salt to be retained in the body. Not only will your jeans not fit, but all of this will contribute to an increase in blood pressure in the long run.
Obviously I’m not trying to be a complete Debbie downer on alcohol, but it is important to realise the effects of overdoing it and how this may impact your health in the long term. If your current goal is weight loss in any form or even gaining lean muscle, alcohol intake is something you should really look at. Although it may sound crazy thinking about the impact alcohol has on weight gain, even two glasses of wine is around 360 kcal, equal to three maple-glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts – now who's crazy?
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