Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Skinny on Alcohol

A new study in Europe suggests that not only does alcohol make you fat, but scientists also found that most women who drink have an alcohol-altered body shape with a half-inch larger waistline compared to women that consume little or no alcohol.   

Cutting alcohol out of your diet can be an effective way to lose weight; after all, it’s called a “beer belly” for a reason. In this particular study of over 250,000 Europeans, it was found that women, much more so than men, appear to store the fat gained by long-term alcohol consumption in their abdomens.

Although alcohol contains calories, (7 calories per gram, making it almost twice as calorie-laden as protein or carbohydrates which contain only 4 calories per gram) it is important that you know that alcohol is metabolized differently than carbs. Most of it is converted in your liver to acetate, which is used for energy.  Your body views alcohol as a toxin and it is placed first in your system to be oxidized and used for fuel instead of using the carbs, protein and fat that are present. These sources take a back seat when you consume alcohol because your body uses the increased levels of acetate for energy instead - slowing down your metabolism of fat.

Remember weight loss and weight gain are dictated by calorie surplus or calorie deficit. A light beer is 110 calories. A 5 oz glass of red wine is around 100 calories, but keep in mind some wine glasses hold up to 12 oz. so it really depends on the pour.

With a minor in Math, it is easy for me to go straight to the numbers - so if you consume an extra 100 calories per day than you work off, that will add up to a weight gain of 10 pounds per year. A 5 oz pour before dinner and another with your meal and you’re up to 200 extra calories a day or 20 pounds a year.

If the scale isn’t budging or you’re having difficulty changing your body shape consider treating the wine and beer you’re drinking as a food because it may be making you fat! Anytime you consume more than you burn the extra has to be stored somewhere … as body fat, and most likely around your middle.

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