Alcohol consumption is common practice in America and has become a large part of our culture.
But while alcohol is very popular, drinking it comes with a whole host of risks and can derail anyone from reaching his or her dietary and fitness goals.
Other than the drastic drop in athletic performance, alcohol leads to mental impairment, addiction, diabetes, stomach, liver and kidney disease, lower testosterone, and weight gain — just to name a few.
Like the other macro-nutrients that provide the body with calories, alcohol provides the body with seven calories per gram. This is just two calories less than pure fat, raising one’s total caloric intake when alcohol is consumed. These calories, however, are not used the same way.
Alcohol Leads to Fat Storage
When alcohol is ingested, it is converted into acetate in the liver which then floats in the blood stream. Under normal circumstances, the body prefers to use carbohydrates and fats for energy, and as a last resort, it will use protein. But when acetate is present in the blood from consuming alcohol, the body quickly begins to burn it for energy instead of using carbohydrates and fats. So, because there is no longer an immediate need for those carbohydrates and fats, the body will shuttle them to fat stores for later use.
To make this problem worse, when we’re out drinking we often have more carbohydrates and fats in our system due to the fact that alcohol often leads to poor food choices. There are not many bars out there serving healthy whole food options at happy hour. What we often see are wings, pizza, and anything else that can fit in a deep fryer. Even though you might otherwise refrain from eating these types of foods, alcohol also tends to increase our appetite and lower our inhibitions. This is quite a dangerous combination, especially for someone dedicated to accomplishing their fitness goals.
Alcohol has also been shown to lower testosterone. Testosterone has a powerful fat-reducing effect and is also a very anabolic hormone. Lowering it will halt its full potential as a fat burner and decrease gains in lean mass. This ultimately will lead to a lowered metabolic rate, making weight loss an even bigger challenge. The higher someones metabolic rate, the more calories he or she will burn at rest.
Alcohol also can damage the stomach, especially when consumed in excess. This can lead to a decrease in the rate and efficiency in which food can digest. This again will interfere with someone’s healthy metabolic process and weight loss process. Lastly, alcohol use can lead to liver damage, which is where fat is broken down into fuel. Damage to the liver will slow its ability to carry out this process.
Is it crazy to think someone will completely refrain
from drinking alcohol?
Depending on a person’s goals, no it’s not. However, drinking is a part of our culture and customs. Understanding this fact and the facts about alcohol’s effects on your performance will ultimately lead to a greater success rate in reaching your goals.
Alcohol will have a negative impact on any effort to lose body fat and will greatly lower performance. The most important takeaway message is to always drink in moderation and never lose sight of your goals.