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Alcohol is fun, social, awesome. It’s a way to trigger happy feelings and help your body to release endorphins. Especially if you drink socially, you’re engaging with your community and finding that blissful buzz that makes the stressful day fade away. When we drink, we get have beautiful conversations with beautiful people and we can let our guard down for a moment.
And if we believe today’s movies, TV shows and magazines, alcohol is awesome, makes you cool and is absolutely normal to consume at any time for any reason. To relax at the end of a stressful day, to forget your terrible boss, …. Or just because. The idea is that if you work hard (especially physically) you earn the right to indulge and drink.
One might even have read somewhere that alcohol can be good for you. There are studies out there saying that a few drinks a day are actually healthy – but new research shows the opposite. The Global Burden of Diseases Study analyzed the effects of alcohol across 195 countries between 1990 and 2016. The conclusion? “The only amount of alcohol that was healthy was none.”
The bottom line is that no amount of alcohol is healthy. But most of us aren’t ready for an all-or-nothing approach, so I’d like to share some facts to help you make the most informed decision for your lifestyle.
Let’s look more closely at why alcohol is unhealthy, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.
1. Alcohol affects your sleep… and then being tired impacts your judgment and willpower. Not only are you taking in a toxin (alcohol is a toxin) and the extra calories in your drinks, but you’re more likely to indulge in salty snack foods or sugary treats after drinking, and again the following day when you’re feeling tired and sluggish as your body tries to rid itself of the toxins from the day before.
2. When you drink, your body’s top priority becomes eliminating the alcohol from your system. Fat metabolism, obviously a key part of weight loss, gets put on the back burner as all energy is used to get rid of the toxin.
3. Despite what society might tell us about how we worked hard and earned a drink… Alcohol is not a break for your body. It’s a burden on your body and can cause you to be dehydrated, impair liver function including glucose production which gives you energy, and can cause blood sugar imbalances that make you feel worse over time.
4. It also impacts your balance, which can be dangerous when you’re in the gym the next day lifting heavy. If you needed another reason not to workout while hungover, this is it.
Everyone handles alcohol differently and it is ultimately your choice if and how much you want to indulge.
If you drink, consider how alcohol impacts you. So before you have that next drink, ask yourself… are you more likely to reach for the bag of chips, skip a planned workout, or struggle with a good night’s sleep after a few glasses of wine? And is it worth it?
You’re going to occasionally drink alcohol, and that’s totally fine. If that’s your stance, no study will convince you otherwise. So the question isn’t about whether you can lose weight while drinking, but rather: how can you do it intelligently?
If you drink rarely and only moderate amounts, don’t worry about the calories. Enjoy the treat and move on.
What if drinking plays a larger role in your life today?
If, for you, drinking plays a bigger role in your life and you still want to watch your calorie intake, I suggest you first do a little research. Go online and find out how many calories your favorite drink contains and then decide if that fits with your goals.
Stay away from drinks that include a ton of sugar (Cosmopolitan, I’m looking at you), and pay attention to any food sensitivities you might have. Plan your drink and eating plan before you start, so that it’s easier to make decisions that support your goals.
Here’s a resource for you to learn what you can eat and drink without compromising your goals (step-by-step guide).