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Episode 157: Alcohol and Weight Loss... Can You Have Both?

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If I were to ask you how you unwind after a long, stressful day, what would your answer be?

For many of us, especially post-pandemic, the answer would be a glass of wine... or scotch... or whatever your drink of choice may be.

And here's the thing, if you're happy with your weight, your physical health, and your mental wellbeing, and you enjoy a cocktail every night, I say more power to you!

But most of us are not there. 

Most of us are struggling with unwanted weight, anxiety, depression, gut issues, skin issues, immune issues, or a myriad of other things that can be significantly impacted by how much alcohol we consume. 

Now I'm going to tell you right now, I'm not going to sit here and ask you to be sober. 

I drink, my family drinks, most of my clients drink, and I think alcohol can be a fun part of a balanced diet. 

But I also think it's important that we know exactly how the things we choose to consume impact us so we can make an informed decision each and every day as to whether or not that indulgence is worth it. 

So with that in mind, let's dive into how alcohol may be impacting you and your goals. 

1. We all know alcohol has empty calories and sugar, and that's not even counting the mixers we add in. 

One 5 oz glass of wine is about 125 calories. But who's pouring a proper 5 oz glass of wine? Let's assume we're drinking at least double that, that's 250 calories per day, which equates to 1,750 empty calories per week. And that's assuming you aren't drinking more on the weekend. Do we see how this can add up quickly. 

And just for comparison, here are some estimated calorie counts of some other alcoholic beverages:

  • margarita: 250-500 calories
  • frozen daiquiri: 400 calories
  • mojito: 240 calories
  • old fashioned: 151 calories
  • martini: 140 calories
  • mai tai: 260 calories
  • pina colada: 250 calories
  • bloody mary: 200-400 calories

2. Alcohol inhibits fat oxidation.

When alcohol is present, it replaces fat as the primary fuel source for the liver (meaning your body focuses on burning alcohol instead of fat). It interferes with fat mobilization (in other words you're unable to access your fat stores as easily). And it even can cause the liver to produce more cholesterol. 

There are a myriad of scientific reasons for this, but the long and short is this: alcohol is a neurotoxin and when there's a toxin present, your body's priority becomes metabolizing that toxin out of the body, not losing weight. 

On top of all this, it takes about 25 hours for alcohol to completely leave your system. So if you're drinking every night, you are consistently suppressing your fat-burning abilities. 

3. Alcohol disrupts your gut microbiome.

  1. Alcohol impairs the muscles surrounding the GI tract which can reduce motility, leading to fermentation of food in the gut which can create a breeding ground for pathogenic bacteria.
  2. Alcohol inhibits the absorption of key nutrients by the small intestine. 
  3. Alcohol disrupts the structural integrity of the gut lining, allowing food and toxins to escape into the blood stream which can lead to wide spread inflammation, food sensitivities, autoimmune conditions, and more.
  4. And alcohol suppresses beneficial bacteria in the gut which are integral in generating short and long chain fatty acids necessary for maintaining gut and overall health. 

4. Drinking negatively impacts sleep.

In fact, studies showed low amounts of alcohol (less than 1 drink for women) decrease sleep quality by 9.3%, moderate amounts (1 drink for women) decrease sleep quality by 24%, and high amounts (more than 1 drink for women) decrease sleep quality by 39.2%!

When you are sleeping well, you should have 4-5 REM cycles where the first one or two cycles have more slow-wave sleep and less REM sleep, and the later cycles have more REM sleep and less slow-wave sleep. 

But alcohol disrupts that pattern and can cause too much slow-wave sleep and too little REM sleep, leading to poorer sleep quality and more sleep disruptions. 

It can even exacerbate insomnia and sleep apnea.

-Sleep Foundation

5. Drinking lowers inhibitions and increases cravings. 

"The liver, the organ that processes any alcohol you drink, is in charge of releasing glycogen into your blood. Alcohol stops this from happening, causing your blood sugar to drop."

And when your blood sugar is low, your body will crave processed carbs and sugar to counteract it.

And while normally you might be able to say no to that large cheese pizza and ice cream, after you've been drinking and your inhibitions are lowered, a 'fuck it mentality' is much more likely to slip through. 

Now I want to reiterate, I am not saying you cannot drink alcohol and reach your goals. But I hope this information has made you reflect on your drinking habits and maybe realize it's time to cut back a bit. 

Give your body, your gut, and your brain a rest. 

Find other ways to decompress at night. Maybe try things like:

  • Reading.
  • Sipping on some chamomile or peppermint tea.
  • Trying Curious Elixirs alcohol-free cocktails that I've heard are delicious(they're made with adaptogens so they help your body calm down in response to stress).
  • Journaling.
  • Taking a walk.
  • Listening to music.
  • Cooking.
  • Taking a hot bath or shower.

I hope you liked today's episode, if you did please don't hesitate to share it with your friends and to social media. And when you do don't forget to tag me @katspanglerunleashed


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