3 Reasons Alcohol Sabotages Weight Loss

By Britni Vincent, RD, LD
March 22, 2017

Ever wonder if alcohol is sabotaging your weight loss goal? The answer is yes, it might be. As a dietitian, I often hear "Well, what about alcohol?" Here are three reasons that alcohol could be causing you to gain weight.

It's a Toxin

Your liver converts alcohol (ethanol) into a toxic compound called acetaldehyde. Your liver also breaks down fat. When you drink, your liver is too busy metabolizing the alcohol and dealing with the toxin to also break down fat. This will not only put a halt to fat loss, but it will also increase fat storage.

It Leads to Eating More

Let's face it— most of us get the munchies by the second or third drink, and you're probably not going to chow down on veggies and guacamole, instead nachos or pizza sound pretty tasty. Not only does alcohol make you want to eat, it also leads you to overeat once the food is in front of you.

It's Full of Sugar & Empty Calories

Alcohol contains seven calories per gram. As we know it is not all about calories, but if you are consuming an excess of empty calories that will lead to weight gain. While many spirits don't contain carbohydrates, beer and sweet wine definitely do. The carbohydrates from beer and wine, especially the sweet stuff, will spike your blood sugar, which leads to fat storage. If you are having spirits such as vodka or gin, consider what you are mixing it with. For example, many people order a gin and tonic thinking it's a healthier choice; however, a standard gin and tonic contains about 11 grams of sugar (2.75 tsp sugar). Whoa! Alcohol really has the potential to send your blood sugar skyrocketing.

Alcohol_sidebar2.jpgHappy Hour Healthier

Moral of the story? Alcohol is not going to make you healthier and may even lead to weight gain. Now I'm not saying you need to give up alcohol completely, but just know it's not going to help you to your weight loss goal. So by now most of you are probably thinking "Well, what should I do if I am going to drink alcohol?"

If you are going to drink follow these tips:

  • If you're going to drink, drink in moderation. Keep it to a few drinks a week. A good rule of thumb is to avoid alcohol during weekdays.
  • When you do drink eat a healthy, balanced meal of real protein, carbohydrates and fat before you start drinking. Also, have some healthy food available for after you start drinking. This will prevent you from being tempted to order a pizza or having your designated driver go through the drive through on the way home.
  • Hydrate! Drink one to two glasses of water for each alcoholic beverage.
  • Stick with dry wine (red is best) or clear spirits. Avoid sugary mixes; try club soda with a lime or maybe flavored sparkling water.

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About the author

Britni is a licensed dietitian at Nutritional Weight & Wellness. Britni once struggled with insomnia, acne and regular migraines that would force her to retreat to a dark room for relief. She tried several different approaches to feel better before she realized her diet was the culprit and changed her eating to a more balanced approach. As a result, her insomnia and acne are gone, and she rarely has migraines. Britni is a registered and licensed dietitian through the Minnesota Board of Nutrition and Dietetics. She received her B.S. in dietetics from the University of St. Thomas and completed her dietetic internship at the University of Iowa. She has experience in nutrition counseling, leading seminars and motivating clients of all ages to make changes.

View all posts by Britni Vincent, RD, LD

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