It is common to hear people say they do not understand why they are not loosing weight as they don't eat much. However, the number of calories being consumed through drinks can catch a lot of people out. If you are looking to lose weight or improve body composition, it can be one of the easiest things to look at and change.
Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram and contain starches and sugars, plus also many will have additional calories with mixers. Add those calories together and the calorie content in alcoholic drinks can be fairly high. Over time all those extra calories can catch up unexpectedly for many.
Lets take a look at some drink and food calorie equivalents
🍻 Couple of beers a night? An extra 364 calories- more than an Egg McMuffin
🍷🍷 Couple of glasses of wine a night?- An extra 320 calories- more than a couple of slices of pepperoni pizza.
🍹smashing the cocktails at the weekend?- Could be taking up to 780 calories per cocktail- A pub grub mac n cheese each cocktail.
Going out getting smashed at the weekend?-
Having a banquet? 🥞🥖🍕🍟🍔🥚🍦🍦🍡🍰🎂 ..
Other factors that alcohol which may play a part in fat gain......
Alcohol does not affect satiety (feelings of fullness) like other nutrients. The disinhibition of impulse control that follows having a few drinks may encourage overeating. How many come home from a night out via the pizza or kebab shop? Also the next day’s hangover comfort food. The craving for sugary, salty or fatty foods.
We can also through into the mix for many it will hamper our training and energy levels for a day or two after.
If looking to lose body weight or fat, don't sabotage your progress....
All the week of healthy eating habits can come undone with weekend binges.
Let’s not beat about the bush here, If you are having a few drinks too many or going out and getting smashed most weekends, followed by alcohol-induced overeating, then it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that results that you want are not coming, they plateau or weight gain occurs.
Now I am not saying you must live like a priest or nun and never drink- not at all.
Most of us like a drink now and again. Below is a Myfitness pal screen shot from a couple of years back. I felt horrendous the next day by the way!) That was 16000 cals in alcohol alone.
My daily calorie target was around 1800 at the time, I nearly hit that with alcohol alone!
Alcohol itself will not cause fat gain, there are other contributing factors. It is the overall calorie intake that will determine fat gain. But alcohol is a toxin to the body. when we drink it, it will prioritise metabolising it over other nutrients (including fat). Here comes the double whammy for fat gain- If your alcohol intake is helping push you into a calorie surplus you will gain body fat.
In the big scheme of things having a couple of drinks or the occasional blow out is not going to make too much of a dent in your diet. Going out getting hammered once or twice a week probably will.
Short-term experimental evidence has shown that alcohol potentially perturbs energy balance in favour of excess energy intake as alcohol does not appear to provide satiety and is additive to energy from other sources. Additionally, when consumed with food, it may even increase the amount of food eaten, presumably due to the psychoactive properties of alcohol leading to changed behaviour.
Although there is uncertainty as to the extent that alcohol plays a role in weight-gain, the most recent systematic review concluded that there is enough evidence to confirm that excess alcohol intake is a risk factor for weight-gain in some individuals
The relationship between body weight and drinking appears to be more consistent in the case of heavy drinking rather than light to moderate drinking (Grech et al 2017).
To Sum Up...
If you are looking to lose weight/improve your body composition, don't sabotage your own progress. If you can fit it in alcohol and still be in a calorie deficit or maintenance, while still getting adequate protein and other nutrients- great!
But many people fall into the trap saying they are eating well all week, but then going out on benders at the weekend, that can put them in a calorie surplus, then end up scratching their (sore) heads and wondering why they are not losing weight.
- Try reducing your alcohol intake or swap drinks for less calorific ones (doesn't mean you drink more of them though!!)
- Make better bad choices at the weekends regarding food and alcohol
- Keep an eye on the serving size
- Try slowing down the pace of your drinking. Alternate a glass of water with each alcoholic drink.
- Prevent mindless munching
- Pre plan post drink meal
- Finding other activities to do at the weekend rather than getting wasted
- Avoid peer pressure, e.g. volunteer to be designated driver.
Don't sabotage your own progress. Trying to eat well all week then going out on benders at the weekend, then scratching your head and wondering why you are not losing weight
If you are not making the progress you want maybe look into how your weekends are or how many calories you are consuming through alcohol.
Jamie Miller- Personal Trainer
UK Fitness Personal Training
Fitness, Nutrition & Personal Training