ENJOY THE XMAS CELEBRATIONS
Mixing, mingling and making merry this Christmas wouldn’t be the same without alcohol. But for those of us with an agenda to neutralise weight gain, adding alcohol to the equation makes this a tough one to balance. Here’s why:
ALCOHOL IS THE SECOND MOST POTENT SOURCE OF CALORIES
Partying with alcohol is fun because we like feeling intoxicated, but this intoxication comes with a calorific price tag. One gram of alcohol is 7 calories, which is more than one gram of carbohydrate (4 calories) and protein (4 calories) but less than one gram of fat (9 calories).
WE DON’T BURN EXTRA CALORIES TO METABOLIZE ALCOHOL
When we digest carbs, fat and proteins a phenomenon called the “thermogenic effect of food” occurs. This refers to the energy we use to digest food into small, absorbable components. We therefore actually burn calories when eating these foods but because alcohol is so easy to absorb, it enters our bloodstream without burning any extra calories.
YOUR LIVER DOES THE DIRTY WORK
Because alcohol is seen as a toxin, the liver prioritises metabolising alcohol first (get in line, fat…it’s not your turn!) which means you won’t be burning calories from other sources while that happens. The liver is only able to clear alcohol at a rate of around one ounce liquor per hour, which is why consuming more than this will leave you feeling tipsy.
ALCOHOL MAKES YOUR BLOOD SUGAR DROP, MAKING YOU WANT TO REACH FOR THE CARBS
The liver helps keep our blood sugar in equilibrium, but a liver busy at work metabolising alcohol can’t do this effectively, causing your blood sugar to drop and stay low until the alcohol is fully metabolised. This explains why you crave carbs and reach for those midnight snacks after drinking!
ALCOHOL CALORIES THAT AREN’T BURNED WILL BE STORED AS FAT
This is true for all extra calories eaten no matter the source, but what makes alcohol calories worse is that they are stored in your liver first. It takes time for the liver to ship out the alcohol-induced fat for proper storage in your fat cells. If the liver doesn’t do this fast enough (or if you drink too much, too often) the fat stays stuck in your liver and around your abdomen giving you what we refer to jovially as a “beer belly.”
This of course doesn’t mean you need to completely dodge all social sips this season. Here are some tips to help prevent you from gaining too much of your holiday cheer:
1. POUR YOURSELF HALF AS MUCH
This will help you limit yourself to one or two drinks per party.
2. AVOID HIGHER CALORIE MIXED DRINKS
Forgo eggnog, margaritas, mudslides and other sugary mixed drinks — or have one and consider it dessert.
3. ALTERNATE BETWEEN HAVING ALCOHOL AND WATER
You’ll stay well hydrated.
4. SIP SLOWLY
Take the time to enjoy your alcoholic beverage.
5. KEEP YOUR ALCOHOL BUDGET AT OR BELOW 200 CALORIES
Here is a list of Alcoholic beverages and their calories so you can make some wise choices of the festive season – www.enjoyfitnessstudio.co.uk/blog/calories-in-alcohol