Part 1: Is alcohol keeping you from reaching your goals?

One question that often presents itself to many dieters who are trying to shed the excess weight that has accumulated over time is whether or not alcohol can be included in their diet plan.
Alcohol is something that many adults do like to indulge in from time to time – some more often than others.
So what’s the real deal about alcohol and your progress? Is this something that you can make room for in your diet or is it something that you need to give the boot? I’m not here to tell you whether you should have it or not, but I want to give you the facts to make a good decision for yourself.
Alcohol and Calories
The very first thing that you need to take note of is how many calories are found in alcohol.  Alcohol itself contains seven calories per gram, whereas both proteins and carbs contain just four.  Fat comes in at the highest calorie value per gram at nine, which places alcohol right in the middle with seven. In addition, alcohol can’t be stored as energy in the muscles (since it’s not a nutrient), so it’s typically stored as fat after metabolizing.
But what’s often worse is what the alcohol is mixed with.  If you’re drinking your alcohol with high calorie or fat mixers such as cream, sodas, or sugary mixers you could easily end up with a drink that packs in well over 300 calories per serving.
If you take in three or four of these over the course of the night, it’s really going to add up.
Alcohol And Fat Metabolism
The second important thing that you need to note is the impact that alcohol consumption will have on your fat metabolism.  The minute that you put alcohol into your body, all fat burning is going to come to a halt.
Your body views alcohol as a toxin and as such, as soon as it comes in, it’s going to do everything it can to rid itself of this alcohol.  No further fat will be burned off until alcohol is out of your system.
Only then will you start burning up body fat again.  So if you consume quite a bit of alcohol one night, you can expect to see your rate of fat loss drop off for a more significant period of time.  Not to mention that if you consume food while you drink (as many people do), alcohol is metabolized first and your food is just sitting there—waiting to be stored…not a pretty picture.
Alcohol and Your Recovery
Finally, the last important thing to note about alcohol consumption is the impact it will have on your recovery rates.
In addition to putting the breaks on all fat burning taking place in the body, the second thing that alcohol is going to put the breaks on is protein synthesis.
This means that no further lean muscle tissue will be built up as long as that alcohol is in the body.
It also causes dehydration, so you can imagine what all of this is going to do to your workout goals.
So if you’re serious about meeting your goals whether it’s muscle building or fat loss, your alcohol consumption (or lack thereof) should be considered.
Yours in Health,
Brook N. Bentley, M.S.
Fitness Director
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