Turn on a TV and you will see that “diet” alcohol is all the rage these days. Beer, seltzer, and even wine companies have begun marketing their products around calorie and carbohydrate content. They are doing this because the perception is that alcohol makes you gain weight. This perception isn’t completely inaccurate either.
Alcohol can affect the body in many ways, one of which is a person’s weight. If you suffer from alcohol abuse or addiction, maintaining a healthy weight while drinking can be a tough thing to do, especially when you factor in the other effects addiction can have on the body from a nutritional standpoint. That being said, can you drink alcohol and still lose weight? Well, let’s take a deeper look and attempt to answer that question.
Why Is There Such an Emphasis on Calorie Content?
As we mentioned, many alcohol companies are trying to market their low-calorie content to the more calorie and carb-conscious consumer. That’s because, as a whole, beer, in particular, has largely been known to be the source of what is called “empty calories.” Empty calories are calories that offer no nutritional value whatsoever. They also tend to be very filling, making you feel full even when you aren’t. It’s a big reason why people don’t feel hungry while they are actively drinking. Due to the fact that alcohol can’t actually be stored in the body, these empty calories become even worse for you because they can’t be properly processed or digested.
The average 12-ounce beer contains 155 calories, while the healthier alternative red wine contains 125 calories in a 5-ounce glass. The more empty calories that the body takes in, the more fat it produces. Additionally, many people enjoy mixed drinks with some of the more popular mixers like sugary juices or sodas. These mixers also contain large amounts of empty calories to go along with the empty calories found in the alcohol it is being mixed with. This can also contribute to excess fat and unwanted weight gain.
How Can Drinking Contribute to Weight Gain?
While you might not get hungry while actively drinking due to all the empty calories, that doesn’t mean you won’t get hungry later on in the night. In fact, think about what happens after a big night of drinking. Chances are, if you are like most people, after a long night of drinking, you want some greasy, fatty fast food either at the end of the night, the next morning, or both.
Not only is this food bad for you from a nutritional standpoint, but eating right before bed makes it harder for the body to properly process the food you ate, thus resulting in more fat build-up. While if you were sober, you might think twice about a late-night fast food craving and either find a healthier alternative or skip eating altogether. Alcohol affects your decision-making and can lead to poor choices such as that late-night fast food run.
Can Alcohol Do Damage to the Body Internally?
Over time, heavy drinking and alcohol consumption can do damage to the body and the brain. One of the organs that it can do the most damage to is the liver. By design, your liver serves the purpose of filtering out bad things that enter the body, such as harmful substances like drugs and alcohol. Additionally, it also helps break down fats, carbs, and proteins as part of your overall metabolism. Over time, significant alcohol consumption can result in what’s known as an alcoholic fatty liver. When this happens, it affects the way your body breaks down and stores things like carbs, proteins, and fats which can result in unwanted weight gain.
Does Alcohol Slow Metabolism?
Another way that alcohol can have a negative impact on the body internally is with your hormones. Drinking alcohol can have negative effects on the hormonal balance of the body, specifically testosterone. Since testosterone plays a role in the body’s metabolism, including its ability to burn fat, drinking can directly affect things like:
- Body mass index (BMI)
- Blood pressure
- Sugar levels
All of these things can play a role in both weight gain as well as making it harder to lose weight.
Is the “Beer Gut” a Real Thing?
Chances are you are familiar with the term “beer gut.” Often times it is used to describe excess fat in the stomach area. However, a beer gut is more than just an expression. It is very much a real thing. All those empty calories that we talked about gets stored as fat in the body, resulting in weight gain that is often carried in the abdominal area.
What Does Alcohol Do to the Digestive System?
In addition to everything else mentioned, alcohol can also wreak havoc on the digestive system. Drinking alcohol puts stress on the stomach and other intestines. This can lead to problems when it comes to food properly moving through the digestive tract. This can also lead to a decrease in digestive secretions. These secretions help break down food into nutrients that are absorbed and used throughout the body. By drinking, you impair the body’s ability to produce these secretions, which, in turn, affects your metabolism and your weight.
Can I Reverse Alcohol-Induced Weight Gain?
The good news is that if you have started noticing that you are putting on unwanted weight as a result of your drinking, there’s a sure-fire way to stop gaining weight and even losing weight. That is to simply cut back on your drinking or eliminate drinking entirely. Unfortunately, that can be easier said than done, especially for those who might be suffering from a substance abuse issue or addiction. Luckily, there are still ways for those people to stop drinking and lose weight as well with the help of treatment facilities.
The first step in this process is to detox the body and rid it of any and all harmful substances. Without ridding the body of these substances, it can’t begin the healing process. Due to the nature of detox and the side effects associated with it, detoxing should be done under the care and supervision of trained medical professionals. This can be done at either a local medical facility, a dedicated detox center, or a treatment facility that also offers detox services such as Coastal Detox. Attempting to self-detox can be very dangerous and even life-threatening. Additionally, trying to detox on your own increases the chances that you will start drinking again as a way to alleviate some of the side effects associated with detoxing.
Plans After Detox
After you have completed detox, you can then enter into a treatment program. Whether you enter into an inpatient, outpatient, or partial hospitalization program, one of the more successful treatment methods for those suffering from weight-related issues as it pertains to alcohol abuse or addiction is behavioral therapy. With behavioral therapy, a therapist will work with you to essentially reprogram your brain so that it no longer wants or needs alcohol or any other illicit substances in order to function properly. Your therapist will also teach you healthy ways in which you can combat any cravings that might arise.
At Coastal Detox, in addition to our extensive detox programs, we also offer behavioral therapies such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). In addition, we also offer holistic treatments designed to complement our more traditional therapies, including:
- Massage therapy
- Infrared sauna
- Biosound therapy
- Cold laser therapy
- Amino acid replacement
- Chiropractic care
In addition to these behavioral therapies and holistic treatments, another important component is learning how to live a healthier lifestyle through diet and fitness. A well-balanced diet, coupled with regular physical activity, is a great way to not only lose weight but to keep it off as well. Having a support system in place will help keep you motivated, especially on those days where you might be struggling.
Can You Drink Alcohol and Still Lose Weight?
While it might be possible to drink alcohol and lose weight, it certainly isn’t a guarantee or even likely. In fact, the easiest and safest way to not only lose weight but keep it off is to not drink at all, as well as eat a well-balanced diet and exercise regularly. If you or someone you know is suffering from uncontrolled weight gain as a result of alcohol, it might be time to get help before it is too late. Excessive alcohol use and abuse can lead to significant health problems in addition to weight gain. Seeking out help will not only help with your weight loss but also will help improve your overall quality of life since you will no longer be at the mercy of drugs or alcohol.
At Coastal Detox, we want everyone that comes to see us to get the help that they need so that they can go on and live a happy, healthy, and sober life. Give us a call today to learn more about the detox services and treatment plans that we offer and learn more about how we can help you achieve your goals.