Alcohol has been reported to account for 16% of adult drinkers’ total energy intake in the United States , with men consuming about three times the amount consumed by women . Men are also more likely to drink beer, which is carbohydrate rich, and provides more energy than wine per standard drink . Overall, obesity is a multi-factorial condition and it is difficult to truly assess the independent influence of alcohol intake on obesity risk. The slow development of obesity and multi-faceted nature of this condition really complicates the possibility to show a cause-and-effect association between alcohol consumption and weight gain. Thus, we need to rely on short-term intervention studies and epidemiologic studies, each of which has clear limitations in showing an effect of alcohol intake on the vulnerability to gain weight.
The liver also plays a role in the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. When your body is using alcohol as a primary source of energy, the excess glucose and lipids end up, unfortunately for us, can alcohol make you gain weight as adipose tissue, or fat. This means that they provide your body with calories but contain very little nutrients. Here are eight ways alcohol can impede your weight loss and what you should drink instead.
How Alcohol Breaks Down in the Body
Beer bellies tend to be more prominent in older people because as you get older, your calorie needs go down, you often become less active, and gaining weight gets easier. Beer also gets the blame because alcohol calories are so easy to overdo. A typical beer has 150 calories – and if you down several in one sitting, you can end up with serious calorie overload. Have years of too many beers morphed your six-pack abs into a keg? It seems beer drinkers across the globe have a tendency to grow bellies, especially as they get older, and especially if they are men. If this applies to you then be mindful of your eating habits, try and have a bite to eat before drinking and leave some healthier snacks in the house for when you get home.
However, the experimental studies were small and the “intervention periods” were short. Dr. Chaput noted that even a very small weight gain over the course of 10 weeks can add up to a lot of extra pounds in five years unless there is a compensating reduction in food intake or increase in physical activity. Several found either no relationship or a negative relationship, at least in women, while others found that men who drank tended to risk becoming obese, especially if they were beer drinkers.
How Alcohol Leads To Weight Gain
The studies Dr. Chaput ranked as “most reliable” and “providing the strongest evidence” were controlled experiments in which people were randomly assigned to consume given amounts of alcohol under monitored conditions. A similar study among 20 overweight, sedentary women found no meaningful change in weight after 10 weeks of consuming a glass of wine five times a week. While cross-sectional and longitudinal studies have controlled for a number of important lifestyle factors, there are many to consider when examining body weight regulation. It is highly likely that the paradoxical results seen in studies examining the effect of alcohol on weight gain and obesity are also the product of a multitude of factors beyond the individual’s ingestion habits. Future research must consider the other important factors that may influence the link between alcohol and obesity, some of which are discussed below.
Alcohol has a lot of calories but offers no nutrients and may affect hormones that control appetite, hunger, and stress. Someone trying to achieve a faster effect from drinking on a regular basis may lose weight as a result. There is also evidence that alcohol stimulates nerve cells in the brain that stimulate appetite, which causes people to eat more while they drink alcohol.
How alcohol affects your weight loss
Even when two people of the same weight have a similar diet, adding alcohol to the mix might have different consequences for each person. A review by Yeomans  highlights some of the potential explanations for alcohol’s influence on weight gain or obesity. First, as previously mentioned, energy from alcohol appears to be additive to energy from other https://ecosoberhouse.com/ sources . Several studies suggest that consuming alcohol before or during a meal does not influence the amount of food eaten in that meal, despite increasing the energy density of the meal . Thus, individuals do not appear to compensate for the added energy from alcohol in the short-term, and alcohol appears to have little effect on satiety .
- Here, bariatric registered dietitian nutritionist Marianna Dayre, MS, RD, CDN, CDE, of the Stony Brook Bariatric and Metabolic Weight Loss Center, answers frequently asked questions about alcohol consumption and weight gain.
- A lack of sleep, or poor quality of sleep, increases your appetite and cravings for junk food rich in refined carbohydrates and decreases your energy expenditure on the following day.
- They noted that self-reported nutrient intake and physical activity did not differ between conditions, although there may have been dietary compensation that was not accurately reported by their 3-day food logs .
Still, research has linked excess alcohol use to poor sleep duration and quality. People with alcohol use disorder (AUD) have a higher insomnia risk than others. Most studies on alcohol’s effects on appetite have been conducted in animals. More human research is needed to understand how alcohol affects hunger.
Alcohol and Bloating
While recent research on humans is limited, past studies have suggested that different hunger-related hormones, like ghrelin and leptin, might be affected by alcohol consumption. “If you’re trying to lose weight, what you really want to happen is you want fat burning to be turned on as much as possible,” Wyatt says. If you consume too much of it, you can develop alcohol poisoning or even die. This is important for potential weight gain because it dictates how your body reacts to alcohol. Alcohol has sedative effects that may help you relax and make you sleepy after a drink.
How much alcohol is too much?
Heavy drinking includes binge drinking and has been defined for women as 4 or more drinks on any day or 8 or more per week, and for men as 5 or more drinks on any day or 15 or more per week.
One animal study published in 2017 found that alcohol activates cells in your brain that signal intense hunger. After a few drinks, you may be more likely to make unhealthy food choices without thinking about it. Instead, your liver prioritizes breaking down alcohol rather than fat.