How Alcohol Affects Weight Loss

You’ve probably heard a lot lately about wine…”It extends your life! Fights diabetes & heart disease! Prevents cognitive decline!” All due to the miraculous effects of resveratrol, a powerful phytochemical that fights viruses & inflammation. But, there’s just one thing about resveratrol – it’s also a phytoestrogen.

While some argue that resveratrol’s phytoestrogen nature is protective against cancer – alcohol itslef is a breast cancer risk. One recent study found that alcohol helps develop the most common typre of breast cancer tumors, those w/both estrogen and progesterone receptors. One to two drink per day increases your risk by 32%; 3 or more bumps that number up to 51%.

Alcohol releases estrogen into your bloodstream, promotes fat storage and decreases muscle growth.
As soon as you have a drink, your body gobbles up all the glycogen in your liver, makes you hungry and lowers your inhibitions…so you’re way more likely to grab that chicken wing at happy hour.

You also burn way less fat and burn it slower than normal. Prevention magazine estimates that just two drinks cuts your fat burning ability by  73%.

Pure alcohol contains about 7 calories per gram, which makes it nearly twice as fattening as carbohydrates or protein (both contain about 4 calories per gram) and only just under the caloric value for fat (9 calories per gram). This means that if you want to lose weight and reduce excess body fat, alcohol is not a good choice.

You can work an alcoholic drink into your weight loss program, but to do so, you’ll have to account for the calories. For example, if you’re on a 1,500 calorie per day diet, you can have that glass of wine with dinner – but only if you make sure that your food calories total no more than about 1,400.

In the never-never land of diet hype, something new is on the scene—alcoholic beverages labeled for carbohydrate and calorie content, and many of them boasting of low carb beer, low carb wine and “no carbs” liquor. You may not have noticed the labels yet, but they are either in the marketplace already or in the offing. The labeling of beer, wine, and the hard stuff for calorie content is not a bad idea—it is useful to know the caloric content of anything you’re about to consume. But carbs?

Wine producers, on another tack, have lobbied for permission to use a “heart-healthy” label, but the agency with jurisdiction over such matters (the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) has been cool to the idea, and has required so many disclaimers that a bottle of wine would need to come with a booklet tied around its neck.

However, though the wine industry can’t simply label wine as having heart benefits, the low-carb and no-carb claims on alcoholic beverages are legal—so long as the labels don’t actually say that they help you lose weight. But, in fact, the terms are now irrevocably linked in most people’s minds (especially young people’s minds) to “weight loss,” “Atkins diet,” or even “better for you.” “Cut carbs, lose weight,” many people now think. “Low-carb” has somehow come to mean “healthy.” Nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to alcohol—and no subject could be more confused and confusing than the effect of alcoholic beverages on weight.

In spite of the strong implication that “low-carb” somehow means low-calorie, and that low-carb foods in general can help you lose weight—or indeed, that they are “health foods”—there’s no evidence this is so and particularly not when it comes to beer, wine, and liquor. Alcoholic beverages have calories because alcohol has a lot of calories—not because of carbs. The implication that low-carb beers and wine or carb-free spirits are a boon on a weight-loss program is simply deceptive advertising.

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