Negative Effects of Alcohol on the Body: Alcohol and Weight Gain

There has been a good amount of research over the last few years about the benefits of red wine and safe limits for alcohol consumption, but what are the effects of alcohol when you’re trying to diet?

Alcohol and Weight Gain

The truth may be surprising to you. Drinking alcohol, whether in the form of wine, liquor, or beer, can impede weight loss. People who drink alcohol on a diet have a harder time losing weight than those who do not drink at all. Here are some facts on the negative effects of alcohol:

Negative Effects of Alcohol

  • Alcohol effects on your metabolism:

The New England Journal of Medicine published the results of a Swiss study showing that if you’re on a 1,250 calorie diet and get just 250 of those calories from alcohol, it can slow your metabolism by 36%

  • Alcohol effects on your body's ability to burn fat:

Alcohol and fat are both processed in the liver. When the liver is processing alcohol, it cannot effectively metabolize fat.

  • Alcohol effects on your mood:

Although you may initially feel better after drinking alcohol, the ultimate effect is a depression, which has a negative effect on the dieter overall.

  • Alcohol increases fatigue, making you less likely to exercise

One of the effects of alcohol is a decrease in the liver’s output of glucose, resulting in the lowering of the amount of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) entering the cells. ATP is the fuel for muscle contraction and immediate bursts of energy, so your ability to exercise will be impaired.

  • Alcohol causes dehydration.

Dehydration causes your body to retain water and thereby cause water weight gain. Alcohol is also a sugar and can trigger carbohydrate cravings and hunger. In addition, people often snack or eat in combination with drinking alcohol. Alcohol also makes you more likely to stop your weight loss program as it decreases your resolve to stick to it.

  • Some alcohol (like beer) is high in both carbohydrates and calories.

The ugly truth is that these calories are truly “empty” meaning they have no nutritional value. For example, a five-ounce glass of wine contains approximately 110 calories from alcohol, which represents 10% of a person’s calories if they consume alcohol on a diet of 1,100 calories per day. That is 10% of their intake which did them no good.

Now we are not saying you need to become a teetotaler (a person who abstains from alcohol completely) to lose weight. An occasional glass of alcohol is fine but if you are exceeding two servings a week and you’re overweight, you may want to cut back. The effects of alcohol and high carb foods are related in the fact that both activities cause a serotonin boost in the brain and can give you a relaxed, happy feeling which can be addictive.

Facts on Alcohol And Weight Gain

The best alcoholic beverages to drink are dry (low sugar) drinks such as dry wine, dry champagnes, light beer, and spirits like vodka, gin, etc. High sugar, high fat cocktails like the TJ Fridays “Mudslide” (a chocolate shake with alcohol) can make you gain one pound all by itself.

When you drink you should always take a multi-vitamin supplement high in B-vitamins to help you detoxify the alcohol and avoid a hangover. Furthermore, drink two glasses of water for every alcoholic beverage you drink to flush the alcohol from your system and avoid dehydration.

The healthiest of this list is red wine which contains resveratrol, but all alcohol causes damage your liver and brain cells. Resveratrol offers the following benefits:

  • Protects your cells from free radical damage
  • Helps you keep your blood pressure within the normal range
  • Keeps your heart healthy and helps improve blood vessel elasticity
  • Boosts your protection against the spread of abnormal cell activity
  • Helps you better control the aging process

The best way to reap the benefits of resveratrol it to take it as a supplement.

About the Author:
Dr. Kendra Pearsall, N.M.D. is a Naturopathic Medical Doctor specializing in natural weight loss and food addiction. She created to help millions of people achieve optimal health, natural weight loss and life success with her free weekly e-newsletter (sign up at the top of this page.)