Alcohol can affect the body in many ways. Certain alcohol, in moderation, has actually shown to have positive effects on the body, such as red wine. One of the negative impacts that alcohol can have on the body, though, is weight gain.
Trying to maintain a healthy weight while drinking can be a tricky thing to do, especially for those suffering from substance abuse and addiction. If you are someone who is looking to lose weight while still drinking, you might be asking yourself, “Can you drink alcohol and still lose weight?” Let’s take a look.
Alcohol Is Full of Empty Calories
Many beer and seltzer makers are trying to change the narrative that alcohol is high in calories by advertising their low-calorie products. One of the biggest reasons they are doing this is because traditionally alcohol is full of what is called “empty calories.” Empty calories are calories that have no nutritional value and tend to make you feel full even if you aren’t.
Since alcohol can’t actually be stored by the body, the empty calories in alcohol are even worse for you. In fact, the average 12-ounce beer contains 155 calories, while even the healthier alternative of red wine contains 125 calories in a 5-ounce glass. The more empty calories that the body takes in, the more fat it produces.
Additionally, many people enjoy mixing juices or sodas with their liquor. These often sugary mixers also contain large amounts of empty calories to go along with the empty calories in the liquor itself. This can also contribute to excess fat and weight gain, making it hard to drink alcohol and still lose weight.
Over Time, Alcohol Can Damage Your Organs
Your liver doesn’t only filter out bad things entering your body, such as harmful substances like drugs or alcohol, but it also helps break down fats, carbs, and proteins as part of your metabolism. Over time, significant alcohol consumption can result in damage to the liver. This condition, known as an alcoholic fatty liver, can do significant damage to the liver, thus affecting the way your body breaks down and stores those carbs, fats, and proteins. These changes can result in weight gain.
Alcohol Can Lead to Poor Choices
Think about what happens after you have had a big night of drinking. If you are like most people, chances are you want some greasy and fatty foods either at the end of the night or even the next morning to try and “soak up the alcohol” and get rid of the hangover. If you were sober, you might think twice about this fast-food craving and either find a healthier alternative or skip the late-night meal altogether. However, alcohol tends to affect your decision-making and can lead to poor choices, such as that late-night fast-food run.
When you eat more junk food, especially late at night after drinking, your body doesn’t have time to properly break everything down, thus resulting in more fat storage.
Alcohol Can Play Games With Your Hormones
Alcohol intake can have negative effects on your hormone balance, especially testosterone. What does this have to do with weight gain, you may ask? Well, testosterone plays a role in the overall metabolism process, including fat-burning capabilities. As a result, someone with low testosterone levels can suffer from things like:
- High blood pressure
- High blood sugar levels
- High cholesterol
- High body mass index
All these things can directly result in weight gain, as well as trouble with losing excess weight.
Alcohol Affects Digestion
In addition to all of the problems listed above, alcohol can also negatively affect the body’s digestive system. Alcohol puts stress on the stomach and other intestines, which can lead to problems with food properly moving through the digestive tract.
Additionally, it can lead to a decrease in digestive secretions. Digestive secretions help break down food into nutrients that are then absorbed and used by the body. When you drink alcohol, it impairs the body’s ability to do that, which can affect your metabolism and, ultimately, your weight.
The “Beer Gut” Is More Than Just a Myth
For those who tend to drink a lot, especially beer drinkers, the term “beer gut” is a way to describe the change in their body as a result of the drinking. However, a “beer gut” is more than just an expression — it’s a real thing.
All those empty calories that we discussed earlier that come from alcohol get stored as fat in the body. When that happens, it can result in weight gain, typically seen in the abdominal or “gut” area. So, can you drink alcohol and still lose weight? It’s not easy.
What Can I Do to Fix My Alcohol-Induced Weight Gain?
The easiest way to counter any alcohol-related weight gain is to simply cut the alcohol out of your system and focus on living a healthier lifestyle. For those who are suffering from alcohol dependency or addiction, this is much easier said than done. Luckily, there are options out there to get the help you need for both your weight gain and your alcohol dependency or addiction, as well.
The first step in the process is to rid your body of all the alcohol and other harmful substances that have contributed to weight gain through detox. Without ridding the body of these substances, it can not truly begin to heal both inside and out.
Due to the nature of detox and the side effects associated with it, detoxing should be done under the care and supervision of trained medical professionals at either a local medical facility, a dedicated detox facility, or a treatment center that also offers detox services, such as Harmony Place. Attempting to self-detox can be very dangerous and even life-threatening.
Once detox has been completed, treatment can begin. One of the more successful treatment options for those who are suffering from alcohol addiction is behavioral therapy. Through behavioral therapy, the person in treatment essentially has their brain reprogrammed so they no longer think that they need drugs (or in this case, alcohol) to function properly. At Harmony Place, we offer the following behavioral therapies:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Family therapy
- Psychoeducational groups
- Nutritional counseling
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
- Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET)
- 12-step facilitation therapy
While in treatment, you will also learn new and effective ways to live a healthier lifestyle, including diet and exercise. A well-balanced diet, coupled with regular physical activity, is a great way to not only lose weight but to keep it off. Additionally, surrounding yourself with a support system can be a great way to help with any alcohol cravings that might arise and help keep you motivated with things like eating well and exercising regularly.
Can You Drink Alcohol and Still Lose Weight?
While it is possible to drink alcohol and still lose weight, the easiest and safest way to not only lose weight but keep it off is to not drink at all, eat a well-balanced diet, and exercise regularly.
If you or someone you know is suffering from uncontrolled weight gain as a result of alcohol, it might be time to get help before it is too late. Excessive alcohol use and abuse can lead to significant health problems in addition to weight gain. Getting the help you need early on can not only help with weight loss but can also improve your overall well-being and quality of life.
At Harmony Place, we want everyone that comes to see us to get the help that they need and to go on to live a happy, healthy, and sober life. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you achieve those goals.