How Does Alcohol Affect Your Body?

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We are all aware of how alcohol can affect us.  I‘ve heard people say things like: “A couple of drinks at the end of a stressful day helps me to unwind”, “A few drinks helps me relax and gets rid of my inhibitions when I’m at a party”.  However alcohol affects your body in other ways that many people are unaware of.

Alcohol and Weight Loss

Alcohol is known as ‘empty calories’, in other words there is no nutritional value in it but is does contain calories (kilojoules). When you drink alcohol, it’s broken down into acetate, which the body will burn first before any other calorie you’ve consumed or stored.  This means a delay of the fat burning process for anything else being consumed (your dinner or all those nibbles you eat while drinking) which could potentially mean more fat storage.  It also means your body will not burn any stored fat for fuel as it is getting what it needs from the alcohol.  Therefore if you are trying to lose weight drinking alcohol will not only add extra calories to your daily intake, it will also slow down the fat burning process.  Weight loss and alcohol don’t mix.

Alcohol and Calories

Alcohol has 7 calories per gram, (fat has 9 calories per gram). However, when you add ‘mixers’ into the equation the calorie count dramatically increases.  Mixers such as Coca-Cola, Lemon, Lime & Bitters and Lemonade will all add extra 43 calories per 100 ml.  Tonic Water adds 37 calories per 100ml.  When cocktails are consumed the calories count increases yet again.  Alcohol also stimulates your appetite so you are more likely to eat more while drinking.  All this adds even more calories to your daily intake which will most likely be converted into more fat stores.

Alcohol and our Inhibitions

As mentioned previously drinking alcohol relaxes your inhibitions and it also weakens your resolve.  The more you drink the worse it gets and you can end up eating a lot of junk food or fast food such as greasy burgers and chips that you normally wouldn’t even consider eating or at least have the willpower to refrain from when sober.

Alcohol and your Organs

Excess alcohol can inflame the lining of your stomach which effects the digestion of food and this will in turn slow down your metabolic rate and your weight loss goals.

Your liver is a vital component of the digestive system with over 5000 functions including food metabolism, energy storage, waste removal and detoxification to name but a few.  The liver breaks down alcohol and by-products are formed; one is called acetaldehyde, which is more toxic to the body than alcohol itself.  Over time it is these by-products that attack the liver causing serious damage and can eventually cause cirrhosis (a chronic liver disease which produces scarring of the liver and poor liver function).

Your kidneys work overtime when you drink alcohol, producing urine in excess of the amount of alcohol consumed. This can cause dehydration (unless additional fluid is drunk) to virtually every part of the body.

The long and short of it all:

  • Alcohol has no nutritional value.
  • Alcohol adds extra calories to your daily consumption.
  • Alcohol is not conducive to weight loss.
  • Alcohol in excess can damage your organs.

We are not saying give it up entirely but be smart about how much you drink –  moderation is the key! 

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