Many people are often under the impression that the only negative effect of alcohol when it comes to prohibiting weight loss is the extra calories consumed in the drink itself. However, this is not the case — alcohol can sabotage weight loss efforts for a multitude of reasons given its pervasive effect on the entire body. We’ve summarized the main points from an article that’s supported by many studies and which outlines the effects of alcohol on weight loss, also adding a few of our own. Read on to find out why a few drinks here and there could be doing more harm than you think!
- Alcohol slows fat-burning
- Because alcohol is toxic to the body, the breakdown on alcohol puts the body on high alert as it views this substance as a threat. As a consequence of this, the body’s fat-burning rate slows by as much as 75% after only 1 ½ drinks!
- Decreased testosterone levels
- In addition to slowing the rate of fat metabolism, alcohol also decreases testosterone levels in the body, a hormone that is a major player in helping the body build muscle! While this hormone is often referred to as a “male hormone,” testosterone is present in women’s bodies too. The lowered levels of testosterone following alcohol consumption inhibits protein synthesis, which can set back weight loss efforts due to the fact that the more muscle a person has, the more calories they will burn 24/7.
- Alcohol is calorie dense, but nutrient sparse
- Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram, but contains NO nutrients! Compare this amount to the 4 calories per gram present in carbohydrates and protein, which, in addition to being less calories per gram, contain important nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to help support your body and make you feel your best.
- Dehydration and Increased Hunger
- Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it causes the body to lose water. Instead of replenishing lost water by drinking water, many people confuse the thirst they experience after drinking for hunger! This causes them to consume even more calories in the form of food, and likely this food will not be healthy considering the impaired decision-making consequence of alcohol consumption.
- Dehydration and Reduced Performance
- Lost/unreplenished water dehydrates the muscles, which impairs exercise performance, ultimately causing you to burn less calories due to fatigue and being unable to work as hard as usual. Less energy in your workout equates to less calories burned, and fewer pounds lost.
- Longer recovery time
- Protein synthesis is decreased following the consumption of alcohol, making recovery from your next workout take longer.
- Sleep Disruption
- Alcohol disrupts sleep. Because your body’s natural level of growth hormone peaks during restful sleep, not getting a good night’s sleep lowers this hormone. The decreased level of this hormone disrupts muscle building and recovery processes that, under normal circumstances, occur at night. Additionally, inadequate or disrupted sleep causes a rise in cortisol levels, which causes the body to store fat (especially abdominal fat).
- Alcohol lowers blood sugar
- When blood sugar crashes, the body typically responds by craving sugar to raise blood glucose back to normal levels. However, this causes a blood sugar rollercoaster, which causes dramatic swings in insulin levels and can lead to weight gain.
- Hangovers can make people miss their workout the day after drinking. Additionally, suffering from a hangover can make people crave traditional “hangover cure” foods: foods that are high in unhealthy fats and contain a large amount of calories.
- Hidden Refined Sugar in Mixed Drinks
- The refined sugar in the form of simple syrups used in mixed drinks can not only stall weight loss due to extra calories consumed, but also has a host of negative health effects on the body. For example, refined sugar spikes blood glucose levels, which has a cascading effect on hormones and can lead to weight gain.
Clearly alcohol has many negative effects on your health and weight loss goals. Our recommendation: skip the alcohol! If you must drink, do so sparingly for special occasions, and try to limit yourself to one glass of wine!
Have you ever noticed a negative effect of drinking alcohol on your health and/or weight loss goals? Share with us in the comment section below!