The Truth About Wine on the Waistline


A glass of wine a day has health benefits. But if you turn that one glass into three glasses, just how much damage is it doing to your weight loss goals? The short answer: a lot.

It’s 2019 and millions of motivated Americans are once again committing to weight-loss goals, exercise programs and overall healthier living. It’s no wonder with nearly two-thirds of adult Americans overweight or obese, weight-loss resolutions hover at the top of this year’s list. How are this year’s resolutions going to be different for you?

Many of you will hire professional help from the “experts” in the fields of health and fitness who will educate and motivate you to reach your goals. Experts like personal trainers, dietitians, lifestyle coaches, etc. Others will opt to prepare a plan of action of their own.

Whether you hire professional help or “Google” weight loss, you are going to encounter the debate of successful weight loss and alcohol consumption. They seem to be long-time running enemies. One of the biggest culprits for weight gain and/or weight loss year round is alcohol, or the overindulgence of it.

What part of “NO” don’t you understand? No, it’s not your mother speaking, it’s your personal trainer! Your personal trainer firmly stresses: “Absolutely no alcohol as part of your weight loss program.” You debate: “But, even the government’s endorsed route to better health includes drinking in moderation!” So, what’s the difference between better health and weight loss? A lot!

Before crafting your next cocktail in the blender and happy hour quickly turns into hefty hour, let’s get you educated on four reasons why combining alcohol and weight loss can be a blunder.

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1. Alcohol Affects Your Metabolism
Alcohol not only affects your metabolism or how fast your body burns calories, but it does so in the wrong way. Successful weight loss and maintenance starts with a metabolism running in high gear. Drinking can cause your metabolism to slow, which can lead to weight gain. Add in the extra calories, too, and you have double trouble for any weight loss goal.

Because your body can’t store alcohol and must metabolize it first, metabolic processes suffer. Your body won’t metabolize sugars and fats as efficiently during the metabolism of alcohol. Alcohol temporarily keeps your body from burning fat, explains integrative medicine specialist Dr. Pamela M. Peeke, author of the book, The Hunger Fix. What’s worse: “Research has uncovered that alcohol especially decreases fat burn in the belly,” Peeke adds. “That’s why you never hear about ‘beer hips’ – you hear about a ‘beer belly.’” Talk about “wine on your waistline”…literally!

2. Alcohol Stops Fat Burning
Each gram of alcohol provides 7 kilocalories, compared to 9 for fats and 4 for carbohydrates and proteins. Unlike the macronutrients of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, alcohol supplies what nutritionists often refer to as empty calories: calories without nutrition.

In addition, your body will use these calories first. This process creates an environment where fat burning stops dead in its tracks and fat storage begins. The late diet guru Robert C. Atkins explained it this way: “Here’s the problem with all alcoholic beverages, and the reason I recommend refraining from alcohol consumption on the diet. Alcohol, whenever taken in, is the first fuel to burn. While that’s going on, your body will not burn fat.”

The way your body responds to alcohol is very similar to the way it deals with excess carbohydrates. America is low-carb diet crazed. Maybe if we were low-alcohol diet crazed, we would be a thinner nation. Just a thought.

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3. Alcohol Adds Extra Calories
All alcoholic beverages contain calories, and some of them contain a LOT of calories. How many extra calories will a few cocktails add to the daily calorie budget you’ve set for your weight loss goal? Calories, and empty ones at that, can add up fast. Keep in mind if you consume more calories than you burn, you will not lose weight. And on a bigger note, you may even gain! No pun intended.

The U.S. government explains in its Dietary Guidelines for Americans that if you choose to drink, you should do so only in moderation. Moderation is defined as the consumption of up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men. A standard drink is equal to 14 grams of pure alcohol. Generally, this amount is found in 12 ounces of beer (about 150 calories), 5 ounces of wine (150 calories), or 1.5 ounces of 80 proof distilled spirits (about 100 calories). If you are not diligent in monitoring casual drinking, it’s easy to digest more calories than you intended.

Not sure you have noticed, in more recent years the size of wine glasses has increased. The bigger the glass, the bigger the pour, and the more calories you’ll consume. Be aware: Wine o’clock sabotage happens quickly!

DID YOU KNOW? When you go out for drinks with the girls for girl’s night out or you’re getting together with friends to watch your favorite football team kick the opponent’s tail, what is your drink of choice? Do you have more than one? Be careful, the calories can add up fast! And don’t forget that if you pair alcohol with food, your body will digest the alcohol first, so the food takes a back seat and can get stored as fat. If you’re going to drink, drink wisely.

4. Alcohol Can Lead To Overeating

Alcohol can be the wrecking ball of any well thought out weight-loss program. Alcohol blocks feelings of fullness from a meal that would have satisfied you otherwise. Over drinking often leads to overeating. If you cannot control your binge eating, you may want to reconsider alcohol while trying to lose weight. Drinking impairs judgment, decision-making ability and self control. Healthy eating requires serious self control, even when sober!

There is scientific evidence to explain why drunk eating occurs. Dr. Ria Gilday, a naturopathic doctor and certified nutritionist points to the fact that alcohol is “technically sugar,” which means it is absorbed into the bloodstream right away. She explained, “The body’s natural defense against elevated blood sugar is to raise the insulin level and rid the sugar from blood. When insulin is released it will cause blood sugar levels to drop rapidly (by burning it and storing it as fat) but this response provokes a vicious cycle of wanting more sugar, hence the person drinks more, or eats more.”

So, even if you started the New Year with too much bubbly at the stroke of midnight, there are still more than 11 months left in 2019 to make your resolution a reality!