WEIGHT LOSS AND ALCOHOL
How does it affect you?
Alcohol contains calories (even hard liquor) and has other effects on your appetite that may interfere with your weight loss efforts. First of all, an ounce of hard liquor (gin, vodka, rum, whiskey, or scotch) contains 64 calories for 80 proof varieties, and 80 calories for those that are100 proof. The proof refers to the percentage of alcohol in the liquor (80 proof is 40 percent alcohol; 100 proof is 50 percent alcohol). The alcohol in your 3 to 4 drinks could be contributing anywhere from 192 to 320 calories. That’s if you’re using only one ounce per drink (many drinks at bars or made at home are made with more than an ounce). If you’re also adding a mixer, the calories may soar! Consider that per 8 oz. cup, orange juice contains 111 calories, regular cola or lemon-lime soda pop has about 100 calories, and regular ginger ale, tonic, or quinine water has around 80 calories. If you are having mixed drinks, you can easily be taking in over 500 calories per day from your libations. That’s nearly one-third of the minimum total daily intake range of 1,600 to 2,400 calories for an “average” sized, moderately active woman.
In addition to the calories, alcohol interferes with fat burning, something important for weight loss. Normally, the liver metabolizes fats, but when a person drinks, alcohol takes preference. The liver breaks down alcohol for energy first, causing a build-up of fatty acids. What this means is that the body uses the calories supplied from alcohol before it is able to expend the calories from fat. This characteristic is referred to as “fat sparing,” meaning alcohol’s presence spares the fat from being utilized for energy. Alcohol also stimulates appetite in many people. This may thwart your weight loss efforts even more.
Besides adding empty calories, your alcohol intake may be jeopardizing your health. Messages in the media about alcohol can be quite confusing. Let’s start with an explanation about how alcohol influences your nutritional status, and then about how it impacts your risk for other diseases. First of all, alcohol affects the hormones responsible for fluid balance. As a result, it causes drinkers to urinate frequently, losing body fluids. When thirsty drinkers have another alcoholic beverage, the vicious cycle of urination –> dehydration –> thirst continues. The only way to break the cycle is to have water or another non-alcoholic beverage. Along with the fluids drinkers lose, they excrete important nutrients as well: calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Alcohol also interferes with the absorption of vitamins B-1 (thiamin), B-6, B-12, and folate. It causes problems in processing Vitamins A and D, too. As a consequence, nutritional deficiencies are often seen in people who over-imbibe alcohol.
FAT AROUND YOUR MIDDLE & HOW STRESS EFFECTS YOUR WEIGHT-LOSS
The main reason some people gather more fat around their middle than others is specifically because of the action of the stress hormone cortisol.
The problem with many modern lifestyles is that stress (our ‘perceived threat’) is almost continuous and comes without the natural release that either fighting or fleeing might provide.
Unless you do something physical (as your body is expecting you to) all that extra energy, in the form of fat and glucose, has nowhere to go. It must be simply re-deposited as fat.
If you don’t fight or flee when your body expects you to, the fat and glucose swimming around your system get deposited as fat – around the middle of your body. And if you eat something sugary or fatty as a consequence of the post-stress appetite surge, any weight you gain as a result, will be around your middle too.
The reason fat targets the middle is because it is close to the liver where it can most quickly be converted back into energy if needed. There it provides the body with protection ready for the next stress attack. Your body is only trying to help. To continue providing the energy it thinks you need, it tries to keep a convenient fat store ready for constant use and creates cravings and increases appetite to ensure good supplies of necessary fuel.
7 to 8 hours of sleep. With less sleep a hormone Ghrelin (a hunger hormone) would increase, leading to overeating. If you are unable to get a full night’s sleep, a short 5–15 minute nap can give a few hours of improved cognitive performance.
Your body depends on water for survival. Did you know that water makes up more than half of your body weight? Every cell, tissue and organ in your body needs water to function correctly. For example, your body uses water to maintain its temperature, remove waste and lubricate joints. Water is essential for good health. At least 8 glasses of water need to be consumed daily to ensure you stay hydrated.
Exercise has numerous mental and physical benefits:
- Helps lower stress, depression and anxiety by increasing dopamine and serotonin levels.
- Strengthens the immune system.
- Increased tolerance to cortisol, a stress hormone.
- Reduced cholesterol and improved cardiovascular health.