No one can deny how wonderful a glass of wine can taste after a hard day.

However, when it comes to weight loss, alcohol isn’t your friend. Giving it up is hard because alcohol habits run pretty deep in our culture. That’s why wine tasting, microbreweries, and happy hour have become so popular.

There’s more than one reason why I advocate for my weight loss clients to skip drinking and it’s not just because of the high calorie content.

1. Alcohol slows how you burn fat

Yep, even one drink impairs your fat burning ability.

Alcohol can’t be stored after you drink it, so your body quickly metabolizes it through the ADH pathway, creating acetate. Acetate increases oxidation throughout the body, especially in the liver. Your body sees this as dangerous and wants to use up this fuel as fast as possible. As a result, you burn the calories from alcohol first.

If you’re trying to burn fat and create a calorie deficit, your progress will be impaired by how much you drink. It doesn’t mean that you have to completely give it up, but it does mean that you need to consider how slow you want your weight loss to be.

2. Alcohol costs calories

This one’s pretty obvious. We’ve all seen the graphics or read articles that summarize what to order if you want to be healthy.

Every gram of alcohol you drink costs 7.1 calories. So the higher the alcohol content, the more the drink will cost you. Wine is often touted as having “antioxidants” (whatever that means) and lower in calories than beer, but most restaurants pour more than the recommended 4 ounces. Your 90 calorie glass of wine is probably more along the lines of 150 calories. Let’s not talk about how many calories are in a blended margarita…

3. Alcohol stimulates your appetite

Since alcohol loosens your inhibitions and messes with your judgement, you’re more likely to reach for dessert or pizza when you know you shouldn’t. Alcohol also has a numbing effect, which decreases the ability to tell when you’re full.

4. Alcohol interferes with your sleep

After 1-2 drinks, your body starts to increase it’s usage of GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. GABA is the primary reason you stay asleep and when it’s used while you’re drinking, you have less of it left over to keep you asleep.

5. Alcohol uses your vitamin and mineral stores

In order for the liver to process the alcohol byproducts, it has to use up certain vitamins. This consists of B1, B3, B6, folate, Vitamin C as well as fat soluble vitamins A, E, and K1. After long term alcohol use (and insufficient vitamin intake) this can decrease your motivation and energy, not to mention impair other metabolic functions.

As you can see, it’s just easier to skip the post-work libation when you’re in weight loss mode. I understand that it can be a comfort that you don’t want to give up, which is why next week I’m covering strategies to make giving up your wine or beer much easier. Come back to learn how!


Do you drink? Do you not drink? Let’s chat about it.


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