If you are wanting to lose weight, where does alcohol enter the equation? Is having an alcoholic drink a detriment to your diet and exercise plan, even in moderation? Is it ever beneficial to your health? Once again, I’m not an expert here, but I have been doing some reading and research and want to share with you what I’ve discovered. So first of all, let’s answer the question, what exactly is an alcoholic drink considered to be?
What’s an alcoholic drink, anyway?
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, In the United States, one “standard” drink contains roughly 14 grams of pure alcohol, which is found in:
- 12 ounces of regular beer, which is usually about 5% alcohol
- 5 ounces of wine, which is typically about 12% alcohol
- 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, which is about 40% alcohol
Drinking and Calorie Counts
So now that we know what an alcoholic drink is, let’s look at the calorie count of an average alcoholic drink. There are numerous websites out there that will give you calculators, charts, and allow you to look up whatever drink you wish. For this post, I think an image speaks volumes, so take a look.
Drinking and Your Body
Alcohol has many effects on your body, both physiological and neurological; I will not go into a great deal of detail as I am not rewriting the book on this subject. Rather, I want to give you the higher level overview and let you make your own decision that fits your lifestyle.
- Skeletal Muscle: Alcohol has many detrimental effects on the skeletal muscle and has been observed not only in rodents undergoing testing, but also in human subjects as well. Alcohol may compromise the outer sheath of the muscle fiber, though this has not been definitely proven.
- Hydration: Alcohol has a historically recognized effect on the body’s hydration and diuretic functionality. Alcohol’s identification as a power diuretic dates back to 1948 where excess urine was measured for every gram of alcohol consumed. Not only this, but you tend to lose fluid by sweating more with alcohol. In other words, the more you drink, the more dehydrated you become.
- Metabolism: Alcohol interferes with the way your body burns fat. Normally, the liver metabolizes fat calories allowing you to use them for energy but when you drink alcohol, burning fat takes a backseat and the body turns to the calories from alcohol.
- Neurological: Let’s face it, after a drink or two, the phrase “Hold my beer!” comes to mind. Drinking lowers your inhibitions and can lead to decisions you might regret later. Alcohol is also a depressant. The more you drink the more depressed you become. These are but a few of the neurological ways alcohol can and will affect you.
Drinking and Exercise / Recovery
So far, research has shown that excessive alcohol consumption can affect aerobic activities, but the keyword is excessive. Further research has shown that moderate consumption of alcohol can affect resistance/strength training. As for recovery, there has been some research showing that alcohol consumption can affect your recovery from exercise. I am not going to go into full detail here but if you wish to read further, take a look at the links at the end of this post.
Any Benefits from Alcohol?
There has been research done that says that drinking alcohol and / or wine in moderation (meaning approximately two drinks a day) does have some benefits for you. Studies have shown there are reduced risks for some cancers, a reduced risk of heart disease, possible reduction in risk of ischemic stroke (when the arteries to your brain become narrowed or blocked, causing severely reduced blood flow), a reduced risk of diabetes and possibly a reduction of risk of dementia. Again, the studies are saying it is only from drinking in moderation and not to excess. The debate also extends to what type of alcohol is more beneficial: wine, or grain alcohol. There are benefits, but again, do your reading on this and ensure you can drink if you so choose.
Drinking is an individual decision and I’m not going to tell you one way or another how to live your life or what to drink or not drink, but I will tell you that after doing the reading and research I’ve done, I’ve made the decision to lay off my favorite go to of whiskey and bourbon and instead, drink water, or tea. I’m not saying I’m going to give this up completely for the rest of my life, but while I am working on weight loss, this feels like the best decision for me. As for those of you reading this, it is again, your decision. I hope this has been somewhat informative and helpful for you.