Most people are aware that there is some connection between alcohol consumption and weight gain. We’ve all seen the middle aged ‘beer belly’ and assumed that ‘partaking’ a little too heavily and a little too often is the reason for many middle-aged men’s and some women’s physical shape.
There is some truth to the idea of weight gain and regular over consumption of alcohol, but what is really going on? What is the connection between alcohol consumption and weight gain?
Most people tend to think that alcoholic drinks contain a lot of sugar and immediately latch on to that as the weight gain culprit but many non alcoholic drinks such as sodas and so-called energy drinks contain more. So, is it the sugar content of alcohol that is problematic in the weight control issue?
The substance alcohol in and of itself does not contain any sugar or carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are added at the manufacture of the product when hops, grapes, fruit additives, flavorings and any sugar that the manufacturer cares to add are included to make the finished product that you drink.
Carbohydrates…and plain old table sugar is a carbohydrate, can fuel weight gain in some individuals over time by raising the blood insulin level. Consistently high blood insulin levels can promote the onset of a condition called insulin resistance syndrome. One symptom of insulin resistance syndrome is progressive weight gain.
Moderate to high regular alcohol consumption will certainly add to your over all carbohydrate loading and therefore may increase your likelihood of gaining unnecessary weight, especially if your diet is improperly balanced and biased heavily towards refined carbohydrates.
Alcohol is also an energy dense substance, coming in at second place behind dietary fat. You take on ‘packets’ of energy as you eat and drink throughout the day and your body fuels its energy requirements in this manner so that you can function.
Weight gain can increase and be strongly impacted by ingesting too much energy as food and drink for your particular requirements. If you sit at a desk most days, you won’t need the same energy from food as an athlete would. A sedentary lifestyle and a routinely moderate to high alcohol consumption pattern will certainly add unnecessary Calorie density to your daily energy requirements. Additionally, the Calories in alcohol are completely void of any nutritional quality, so on top of giving your body more energy as Calories than it really requires, you’re not even taking care of your body’s constant need for high quality nutritional components. Quality nutrition plays a huge role in keeping you disease free and promotes a healthy, normal lifespan.
Although over-consumption of alcoholic drinks will promote raised insulin levels and increase your Calorie consumption, these reasons alone are not the main cause of weight gain due to being over indulgent with alcohol. The most significant issue that relates weight gain to alcohol consumption is related more to the way your body processes alcohol.
Alcohol is deemed a foreign and toxic substance by your body, it is ‘burned’ or metabolized ahead of nutritional components. This means that your alcohol consumption can interfere with your body’s ability to burn stored fat because it prioritizes the processing of alcohol ahead of protein, carbohydrates and fat – in that order.
Unfortunately, there is more bad news. Alcohol also interferes with the process of lean muscle development in your body. Lean muscle development is important for both men and women and an effective weight control program should promote the replacement of body fat with lean muscle. Lean muscle mass development is not just a function of physical activity but also proper nutrition.
Does alcohol consumption confer any health benefits at all? Well, that’s a subject to be explored at another time. For now, if you drink alcohol, specifically red wine it appears that there may be some cardiovascular health benefits if your consumption is regular and low, not exceeding one small glass a day. However, if you don’t drink alcohol then the risks associated with consumption, including weight control out-weigh any benefits.
Any substance that abnormally adds to your daily carbohydrate loading and adds unnecessary Calories to your diet or can affect the way your body processes nutrition and negatively impact the development of your lean muscle mass, clearly can have a significant impact on healthy weight control and should be minimized or avoided if effective weight management is an issue for you.
Evaluate your alcohol consumption habits today and consider the role that alcohol may be playing in your quest for a healthy body composition and effective weight control.
Andrew has spent in excess of twenty years in the health care industry mostly as part of a cardiology based diagnostic team. Andrew now runs his own website at
http://www.coronary-heart-health.com where you can learn more about heart disease, heart health, weight control and nutrition. Visit Andrew today and subscribe to Health for Life Andrew’s FREE health Ezine