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Should I give up alcohol when trying to lose weight?

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It’s the age old question, I want to lose weight, but can’t give up my glass of wine. Deep down we know that in any weight loss program, we should be limiting our alcohol intake but does it make a difference whether we give up or not?

It gives your liver extra work

Firstly alcohol is broken down in the liver, the same place where fat is broken down. Fat from your fat cells is digested into fatty acids and glycerol. This goes straight to the liver to be broken down further or made into glucose for energy. So if your liver is busy breaking down alcohol it won’t have as much time for breaking down fat and getting it out of your body.

Alcohol is broken down in the liver into several pretty toxic chemicals such as acetaldehyde, so it has to work hard getting rid of those toxins first before working on your fatty acids. All other processes stop until all the poisonous acetaldehyde has been dealt with. Stopping alcohol means your liver can give its full attention to the work in hand – processing all that blubber.

It causes fluid retention and inflammation

Have you ever noticed how puffy your eyes get after a big night out? It’s not just the tiredness, its actual fluid retention as well. That toxic process of breaking down alcohol causes inflammation all over our body and that results in holding onto fluid unnecessarily. Watch how that facial puffiness disappears when you spend a few days on the wagon.

It can affect your mood and make you eat more

On a big night out, we lose our inhibitions with booze and can blow out our eating plan with pizza, chips and kebabs.  Research shows that we eat more food when its served with an alcoholic drink that without. The next day, a hangover needs to be fed, as alcohol withdrawal can make us hypoglycemic. That’s why pizza and ice-cream help make us feel better. At the same time, a hangover can make us feel depressed and guilty, so feeding our low-self-esteem and feelings of failure.

You get less sleep

Alcohol might send you off to sleep but the quality and duration will be affected.  With a few drinks before bed, you might sleep deeper but you spend less time in rapid eye movement sleep (REM) which is the best, most refreshing sleep. Also when the alcohol starts to wear off, it wakens many people in the middle of the night, leaving them hungover, alert and craving carbs.

Alcohol acts like carbohydrates

When alcohol is broken down into acetaldehyde, it goes into the Krebs cycle producing energy just like any carbohydrate.  After all, remember that alcohol is made from fermenting sugars! So for example, 100mls of wine contains about 70 calories.

Don’t forget about all the extra sugar in mixers, beer and cider

Many forms of alcohol have still got sugar in them. The process of making beer and cider ferments the sugar in the apple or grain, converting it into our favourite alcohol. When the process is stopped there may be still lots of sugar left in the liquid, which is why cider and wine tastes so sweet. Different processes leave more sugar around so that’s why we get sweet and dry wine.

Add in mixers and you have a sugar loaded drink that’s going to make you eat more forbidden foods and make you crave sugar the next day.

 

What to do

Here are a few tips to handling alcohol while on a weight loss program

1) Reduce your alcohol intake to the absolute minimum while on the program

2) Have at least 2 alcohol free days each week. This allows your liver to get rid of the all the acetaldehyde and heal. You’ll find fluid retention decreases and you skin will look fresher.

3) If you really must have a de-stress drink after work, dilute your wine with soda water. Add some fruit and make a spritzer or sangria.

4) Delay having your drink until later so that you only have one, not several. So say to yourself, I won’t have that glass of wine until the dishes are done and the laundry is folded. Then you can fully relax feeling proud that your chores for the day have been done.

4) Make an event of non-alcoholic drinks. After work, squeeze the juice of an orange into a tall glass. Add ice cubes and top up with soda water. Add a slice of orange to the top or an umbrella. Sit down in your favourite chair and relax while sipping your drink. It’s a great reward to give yourself a healthy drink after a hard day’s work.

 

Enjoy!

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