It is common knowledge that drinking a lot of alcohol will make you fat, unless you have a fast metabolism or an otherwise exceptional nutritional program and burn a lot of calories through exercise. Alcoholic beverages can have a lot of calories, which can cause fat storage, but the number of calories is only one of the problems with alcohol.
The calories content in alcoholic drinks is still often an issue, because people often do not think of liquids as containing a lot of calories. Take a margarita for example, which is a popular drink, which can have around 500 calories each. It is not uncommon for people to have 2 or more of these during a meal.
This means they are consuming 1000 calories and that is before even counting the calories from the food. From a caloric standpoint, dinner and drinks at a restaurant with large portion sizes can have more calories than you should consume in the entire day.
Naturally, if you consume 1000 or more calories during one meal you are going to gain some fat, because your body simply does not have any use for that many calories at one time. Generally speaking, any calories that cannot be used (for energy and other physiological functions) will be converted into fat, so consuming large numbers of calories in a short amount of time is a guaranteed recipe for fat gain.
While the occasional night of dinner and drinking will cause some fat gain, even more serious problems occur when people drink alcohol consistently, especially when they have multiple drinks every day. Drinking frequent large amounts of alcohol can result in problems regulating blood sugar. This can lead to the development of insulin related diseases, such as hypoglycemia and diabetes.
When you have insulin or blood sugar issues, it is bad for your overall health and your body stores fat even faster. Plus, these issues make it more difficult to lose the fat you already have. Insulin is a fat storing hormone and if your body releases too much insulin, more of your consumed calories will be stored as fat.
There is also another alcohol related issue that affects fat storage, especially when consuming alcohol with significant amounts of food. I already mentioned the problem with consuming large numbers of calories during the same meal, but alcohol has some special properties that cause even greater amounts of fat gain relative to the number of calories you consume during a meal.
One unique property of alcohol is that is considered a carbohydrate, but it has 7 calories per gram instead of the 4 calories per gram found in other carbohydrates. Eating foods that have a high number of calories per weight, typically results in weight gain. Since alcohol has more calories per weight than other carbs and is in liquid form, you can consume a lot of calories without realizing it.
I think it is interesting that alcohol has more calories per gram than other carbohydrates, but that is not really such a big problem. Of greater importance is the fact that alcohol is a toxin, so it is processed differently than other calories. From a physiological standpoint, alcohol is considered to be fat, protein, and carbohydrate sparing. In other words, your body will burn calories from alcohol before any other calories.
Since alcohol is a toxin, your body’s first priority is to get it out of your system as fast as possible, but it takes time to process alcohol and the more you drink, the longer it takes. Normally, when you eat or drink calories, your body takes and uses what it needs from what you ate. For example, carbs can be used for energy, protein for rebuilding tissue, healthy fats for cell membranes, etc. However, once you drink a significant amount of alcohol, the whole process changes.
Instead of using the recently consumed calories for normal physiological functions, your body basically pushes everything to the side so it can concentrate on getting the alcohol out of your system. Instead of using (burning) some of your recently consumed calories, your body will basically just turn everything into fat until after the alcohol is dealt with. The result is that a higher percentage of calories will be stored as fat while drinking alcohol than under normal circumstances.
Of course, this is exactly what you want to avoid if you are trying to lose fat and it is why alcohol is such a problem for people trying to lose fat. If you do want to drink alcohol, I suggest drinking it on an empty stomach. This should make you feel the effects sooner and hopefully cause you to stop drinking sooner as a result.
By drinking less you will consume fewer calories and clear your system of alcohol in a shorter amount of time. In addition, drinking alcohol without food means you will avoid having your body convert such a high level of excess calories into fat. However, if you are serious about fat loss, the best thing to do is avoid alcohol altogether.
14 years of experience and education in health and fitness