Fitness. Fatloss. Results.

Why you should give up alcohol

Many clients have made the move to eating better and training frequently and consistently with proven training methods.  Most are seeing improvements in their body composition, their energy levels, they’re sleeping better and they are getting fitter.  Some however are not quite seeing the results they desire and for some of them, alcohol is the culprit.

I get asked a lot:

“Can I still drink?”

“What about just sometimes?”

“I only drink on the weekend.”

“I just have one while I get tea ready.”

“It’s not every night.”

“I really need it to relax.”

“But I enjoy having a drink with friends/hubby/parter etc, that’s okay isn’t it?”

A wreath Kolsch Beer - LA Times of Kölsch.

Image via Wikipedia

Well yes, and no.  Yes if you’re happy with how things are going for you.  And no if you want better outcomes.  In a targeted fat loss program, no amount of alcohol is okay-sorry!

I’ve reproduced a blog post I wrote last year which highlights just some of the affects alcohol has on our bodies.  Once you reach your fat loss goals, you may be able to introduce some alcohol back into your diet, but always making sure it’s occasional, controlled and with the knowledge that every single drink is going to set you back.

I know it sounds harsh and like I say at the end of the article, it can be hard to imagine that you could actually enjoy friends’ company or a night out without alcohol-but it can be done and it’s not a hardship.  It feels so good to be lean and healthy, to have energy to burn, good skin, and to be able to wear clothes you love.  The feelings of being a bit tipsy are outshone by all of this, you’ll be on a high all the time once you reach your goals.

Here’s the article:

Alcohol is a toxin. It is essentially a poison that must be detoxified by the body.  Some blood types handle alcohol better than others. The common O blood type handles it the worst of all blood types. And women process alcohol far less efficiently than men.

Alcohol also suppresses the body’s ability to burn fat.  Apart from the fact that alcohol contains 7 calories per gram and includes no nutrients, it also does not satisfy hunger and weakens your resolve when it comes to avoiding foods that should not be part of a healthy diet either.

This is probably the main reason why alcohol makes you fat, and the reason behind the famous ‘beer belly’ even on drinkers who don’t eat a lot.

The body has no storage capacity for alcohol like it does for carbohydrates and fats, so it must be digested and processed immediately by the liver.  Because it is a poison, the body must metabolise it as quickly as possible.

Now, while the liver is metabolising the alcohol, the utilisation of fats, carbohydrates and protein has to be temporarily suppressed. The burning of fats is suppressed the most, because the body metabolizes carbohydrates and proteins first. In short, alcohol puts fat metabolism on hold. When alcohol is in your system, your body will simply convert more of the food you normally eat into fat (instead of into energy, as it is ‘too busy’ dealing with the alcohol). And since most people usually consume their alcohol in addition to food and not as a substitute for it, the accumulation of extra body fat is the result.

Alcohol also interferes with the absorption of most nutrients.

Alcohol irritates the sensitive lining of the stomach and intestinal tract. This interferes with proper digestion and absorption of vital nutrients. It also destroys some of the good strains of bacteria that live in the intestinal tract. These bacteria assist in digestion, absorption of vitamins and in keeping harmful bacteria under control.

An excess of harmful bacteria in the gut causes gas, bloating, yeast infections, stomach cramps and a disruption of the body’s pH levels (link to Acid-Alkaline Balance) and can lead to more serious health problems if not rectified. Drinking regularly never gives the good bacteria a chance to re-establish themselves, which is another good reason to limit or stop your drinking.

The metabolisation of alcohol by the liver uses up the B vitamins thiamin and niacin. Alcohol also decreases the body’s ability to metabolise zinc. And it also suppresses testosterone, vital for muscle-building and optimal health for both men and women.

Excessive alcohol consumption has been associated with numerous health problems and degenerative diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, cardiomyopathy, abnormal heart rhythms, liver disease, cancer, decreased resistance to infections, gout and hypoglycemia.

The common advice is to ‘drink in moderation’ – 1 drink a day for women and 2 drinks for men. However, it is not a good idea to drink every day – 2 drinks a day adds up to 14 drinks a week, still a lot of alcohol for the liver to process.

Alcohol destroys the good intestinal flora in your gut, and drinking every day or even just a few times per week, never gives a chance for this to recover. Drinking regularly also builds on the habit of drinking. We are naturally creatures of habit and this is one habit that will not serve our quest for health and a long, disease-free life.

As anyone who has ever tried to stop drinking knows, there is tremendous social pressure to drink and this can be a problem for some people. It’s possibly a little easier for women but can be very difficult for guys. The harsh truth is, if it’s a major problem, you may need to consider who you spend time with. You will always become like those you spend time with.  99% of the world doesn’t care that you are trying to improve yourself. The only ones who do care are those people who are trying to improve themselves as well.

One way of doing it is to have a story prepared beforehand for when people ask (and they will). It’s pointless trying to give the real reason!

Try something like, ‘I’ve just found out I have a genetic liver disorder, I wish I could drink with you, but I just can’t take chances’ or ‘my doctor says (it’s amazing what people believe if you use these magic words!) I don’t have the enzymes to digest alcohol, so the toxins build up in my liver and other organs’.

This takes the pressure off and you can relax and have  fun too. And eventually people will get used to it and stop hassling you to drink.  And I know it sounds like you won’t have any fun if you don’t drink, but believe me, you still have just as much fun AND you feel better in the morning!!

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3 responses

  1. That was great. Thanks

    December 20, 2011 at 5:02 am

  2. Steve

    You left out one important fact; alcohol lowers blood sugar, which triggers hunger, causing many people to over eat after drinking. It’s not just that your resolve to eat is lowered, you are actually hungrier.

    January 8, 2012 at 11:51 pm

  3. Asher

    I love everything about this article! Wow, very educational, informational, and balanced with just enough “real world experience!” Its true, no one cares about a person’s desire to better themself except others trying to do the same thing. Thanks for writing, im going to work on my excuse for this weekend!

    April 15, 2012 at 8:33 am

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