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I have seen more than one of my colleagues and friends overtaken by the powerful effects of alcohol consumption. What may have begun as ‘just a drink or two with work mates’ became a powerful addiction that ended with a slow, torturous death.

So is there anything really wrong with having a drink or two? The answer to that question is, “it depends.” I believe in giving as much information as possible so that we can all make the best decision regarding alcohol consumption.

So, let’s look at some effects of alcohol on the body and the desire to lose weight.

The Effects of Alcohol on the Body

Alcohol moves quickly through the body. It enters the blood without being metabolized in the stomach. Alcohol can be measured in the blood within 5 minutes of having a drink, and within 30 to 90 minutes after you’ve had a drink, the alcohol in your bloodstream will be at its highest level.

The liver is responsible for most of the breakdown of alcohol once it is in your body. However, the body needs time, and if you are drinking alcohol faster than your body can break down the alcohol, the excess begins to move through your body and into other areas, such as the brain, where it can destroy cells.

The Effects of Alcohol on Diabetes

When a pre-diabetic person (many are without realizing it) consumes alcohol, he or she is susceptible to hypoglycemia, an abnormally low blood glucose level. Hypoglycemia can cause seizures, unconsciousness and in rare cases, brain damage or death.

Focusing on lifestyle changes is necessary to help ward off diabetes. If you are drinking, strictly limit yourself or stop altogether. You may safely consume a drink on occasion, depending on the severity of your pre-diabetic state. However, don’t over-consume, and always allow your body plenty of time to absorb the alcohol. Alcohol raises HGa1C levels, which is a marker for pre-diabetes and a marker in the management of diabetes.

Alcohol & Calories

Aside from the effect on sugar production and metabolism in pre-diabetic persons, alcohol is a source of calories. Excessive intake of alcohol contributes to weight gain, which can in turn disrupt blood sugar levels. There are 7 calories per gram of alcohol, a fact that is rarely thought of in regard to its intake.  One drink can lead to two, two drinks lead to three, and so on.

First, speak to your physician about alcohol in your diet to help reduce your chances of developing diabetes. If you do have a drink, make sure you aren’t drinking on an empty stomach, and limit consumption to one drink if you are female, two if you are male. Select drinks that are low in alcohol and sugar, such as a spritzer. Also, use mixers that are sugar free, such as diet drinks, tonics, and seltzers or water.

The Effect of Alcohol on Weight Loss

If you need to lose weight, avoiding alcohol is a wise decision. Not only is alcohol packed with empty calories and devoid of any nourishment, but it is inhibiting of your fat-burning AND fat-storing hormones, providing a double and triple whammy against all your weight loss efforts.

If that’s not bad enough, it lowers your inhibitions and changes your decision-making processes, causing you to make poor food choices. As stated,  alcohol lowers your blood sugar levels, thereby making you feel hungrier and much more likely to consume excess calories. Add this to the calories from the alcohol, and you’ll quickly see how bad alcohol is for weight loss.

Alcohol causes you to store food as fat.

Even worse, when your body is attempting to metabolize alcohol and food that have been consumed together, it will use the energy from the alcohol first and store the food as fat. Because the body perceives alcohol as a poison and because it cannot store the energy from alcohol, its first priority is to eliminate it, while digesting and processing the food becomes secondary.

That means your meal gets stored and synthesized as fat while the alcohol gets burned off. Because the food you’ve consumed is being stored and not properly metabolized with the overconsumption of alcohol, the nutrition from that food is not being absorbed by your body. The vitamins and minerals you need to be healthy are not utilized.

Without adequate nutrition, your body is less healthy and more likely to store fat. Bottom line…too much alcohol causes insulin resistance and increase the likelihood of weight loss resistance.

Hopefully now, we all can make better decisions regarding whether or not to have that ‘routine’ drink after work or on weekends.