Alcohol and Weight Loss
Alcohol Does NOT convert to Fat
Alcohol is converted into acetate which is metabolized
Alcohol increases hunger
Alcohol impairs carb metabolism
Alcohol makes you fat right? Wrong.
The idea that alcohol converts to fat is a myth. If you want to lose weight and be lean and fit for life you need the facts about alcohol and weight loss, and you need to understand how alcohol consumption and weight loss seem to be a problem for most people.
First, let’s address alcohol and weight gain or weight loss.
Alcohol does NOT convert to fat. In fact, several studies have looked at alcohol and weight gain and have found that weight loss results when heavy drinkers substitute alcohol for carbohydrates!
If this seems totally at odds with your weight loss experience, take heart, there is an explanation. First you need to understand what your body does with ingested alcohol.
Since alcohol does not need to go into the small intestine to yield any energy, as do fats or carbohydrates, what happens is that alcohol is absorbed through the stomach lining directly into the blood where it sits waiting for the liver to convert it into acetate. Acetate is the end product of alcohol, not sugar.
So how is it that alcohol seems to get in the way of weight loss if it does not convert to sugar or fat?
There are 3 primary reasons.
First, a number of studies over the last 5 years seem to link alcohol consumption to insulin sensitivity. For example, a huge study from the Graduate School of Medical Science at Kyushu University clearly demonstrated that regular consumption of alcohol correlated with decreased insulin sensitivity.
If you are insulin resistant, you will tend to easily gain weight, particularly abdominal body fat when you take in processed carbs. You will also increase your risk for type 2 diabetes. As it concerns weight loss, insulin resistance definitely predisposes you towards weight gain. This is the first way that alcohol and weight loss seem to be at odds.
The second way that alcohol and weight loss are at opposing poles has to do with hunger control. The European Journal of Endocrinology conducted a study in 2015 that showed a clear connection to alcohol intake and ghrelin inhibition. Ghrelin is a key hormone involved in hunger signaling and satiation. This probably confirms what you already know - drinking makes you hungry! It’s difficult to lose weight when alcohol induces you to inadvertently over eat, often at nighttime.
The third way that alcohol and weight loss are at odds has to do with energy metabolism. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a report in 2004 that made clear that the conversion of alcohol to acetate inhibits lipolysis, or fat burning. In effect, when you drink, any fat you happen to ingest will tend to get stored as fat.
Now let’s summarize the effect on alcohol with regard to weight gain and weight loss.
Myth: Alcohol converts to fat
Truth: Alcohol is metabolized into acetate.
Myth: Alcohol causes weight gain.
Truth: When substituted for carbs, studies show alcohol can cause weight loss.
The principle issue of alcohol and weight gain has to do with simultaneous consumption of carbs and fat.
Here is the real problem:
Alcohol increases insulin sensitivity predisposing carbs ingested with alcohol to be converted to fat.
Alcohol inhibits fat burning predisposing fat ingested with alcohol to also be stored as fat.
So if you are looking for a practical strategy for alcohol consumption, here it is.
Realize the alcohol catch-22 – eating food with alcohol slows the rate of alcohol absorption into the blood, but eating food with alcohol also means you are likely to store carbs and fat as FAT.
An Alcohol Weight Loss Strategy:
1.Take an insulin mimicker when you drink – alpha lipoic acid is the first that comes to mind. This will help shuttle carbs into glycogen instead of store them as fat by limiting the insulin response. There are limits. If you ingest too many carbs you are going to get a big insulin response, which leads to the second thing you can do…
2. Limit your carb intake while drinking – More than anything else, this will keep the weight gain at bay.
3. Do not combine fats and carbs when you drink, or eliminate fats entirely. The combination of fats and carbs together when drinking makes weight loss impossible and weight gain inevitable.
4.Take a hunger control supplement such as Hoodia when drinking. This will help to mitigate the alcohol induced suppression of ghrelin.