How Much Water Should I Drink If I Weight 110 How Alcohol Makes You Fat

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How Alcohol Makes You Fat

If you looked at the title of this article, you may have cringed. When it comes to fitness, nutrition, weight loss and general health, many of us struggle with areas. There are some individuals who have a glass of red wine with dinner every night. Others skip the weekday drinking altogether, then start throwing back a few on Thursday or Friday night, and keep it up until Sunday. Still others will not drink for two to three weeks, then have a weekend binge of a few dozen drinks or so (you know who you are!). Finally, while there are dozens of individuals out there who don’t drink alcohol at all and really won’t find this article personally useful, I encourage you (if you are one of those people) to read it anyway and share the information with a person you think might help.

So…how does alcohol make you fat, especially when it has no fat in it? To understand how this process occurs, let’s examine the consumption of a 5 ounce glass of red wine by a fictional character named Vinny.

Vinny takes a drink. When the alcohol enters the digestive tract, it is split into two compounds: fat and acetate. The fat is taken through the bloodstream and stored wherever Vinny tends to deposit fat. The acetate is absorbed into the bloodstream and used as Vinny’s primary energy fuel.

If you take anything away from this article, read that last sentence again. The acetate is used as Vinny’s primary energy fuel. This means that instead of burning carbohydrates, protein or fat for fuel, Vinny’s body relies on the acetate for energy. It completely stops burning anything else. Suddenly Vinny has an excess of carbohydrates, proteins and fat circulating in his body with nowhere to go. So where does it all end? You guessed it…it’s converted to fat and deposited on Vinny’s waist.

But that’s not the only effect on Vinny. Alcohol also acts as a potent appetizer. Have you ever heard of an apertif? It is an alcoholic drink taken before a meal to increase appetite and many restaurants realize this is a great way to get you to order more food! Several studies exist that show a sharp increase in caloric intake when an alcoholic beverage is consumed before a meal (compared to a glass of water or even a soda!). So now Vinny either wants: A) another glass of wine or B) food (probably something salty or greasy).

That’s not all! Let’s say Vinny succumbs to his appetite and finishes the bottle. Just a single round of heavy drinking will greatly increase the level of the hormone cortisol, while the level of the hormone testosterone is significantly reduced. In addition to his headache, here’s why Vinny should be worried: cortisol causes the body to break down muscle and suppress recovery from exercise, while low testosterone makes the body less likely to build lean muscle or burn fat for fuel. So Vinny gets a big belly and thin arms and legs.

Now let’s consider the actual calorie content of the glass of red wine. Before we begin, keep in mind that at most parties, social gatherings, and restaurants, a typical glass of red wine is actually more like 6-8 ounces. But we will be conservative. So Vinny’s glass of wine contains about 110 calories. Contrary to popular belief, there are very few carbohydrates in wine – only about 5 grams. This is because when grapes are made into wine, most of the fruit sugar is converted into alcohol. In comparison, this glass of wine has about the same amount of alcohol and calories as a 12 ounce light beer or a shot of 80 proof liquor (yes, that means a shot of tequila = about a full glass of wine). A regular non-light beer is even higher in calories as it contains over twice as many carbohydrates as light beer.

But realize that alcohol itself contains about seven calories per gram, making it almost twice as caloric as carbohydrates or protein, which only contain four calories per gram. gram. However, these calories contain no beneficial nutrients, vitamins or minerals. Sure – Vinny gets some benefit from the compounds present in the grape skins and grape juice, but if he drinks a large glass of red wine every night with
dinner, he consumes over 1000 extra calories a week and puts on a dozen extra kilos of fat a year!

I haven’t really discussed mixed drinks and won’t say too much. If you read my article “How Sugar Makes You Fat” you know about sugar’s potent effect on body fat levels, and if you’ve read the label on any soda or mixer lately, you know how much sugar it contains. A ton! Basically, you can take everything I just illustrated in the case of Vinny and multiply by 4-5. Margaritas, Long Island Iced Tea, Mudslides and other sweet mixed drinks can do more damage to your diet than a Big Mac with cheese.

So let’s be practical and assume you don’t want to give up drinking entirely, but want some tips for your next social event. Here are some ideas:

Dilute alcohol with diet soda. While there are health concerns with the artificial sweeteners and chemicals in diet soda, this will reduce your overall calorie intake.

Use lots of ice. It makes your drink seem bigger without adding actual calories.

If you have to choose between fruit juice and soda in a blender, choose fruit juice.

Avoid the salty snacks. They will make you want to drink more.

At the bar, restaurant or grocery store, try to find a top shelf product or a good wine that you enjoy, then pay the extra money and sip it slowly. Enjoying a drink will reduce overconsumption.

Drink as much water as possible. Try to have two drinks of water for every drink of alcohol.

Did you like these tips and tricks? You may want to check out my free blog and podcast at http://www.bengreenfieldfitness.com which provides weekly advice on everything from nutrition to fat loss to sports performance. Bookmark it now!

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