Thursday, March 8, 2012

Weight Loss Help and Tips

Weight Loss Help and Tips

Do you gain weight with alcohol?

Posted: 07 Mar 2012 05:47 AM PST

The common saying I hear in the office after a stressful day is that there is nothing better than a nice meal and a couple of drinks at the end of a hard day. Most of my colleagues will argue that a glass of wine will do miracles for their stress levels. This is usually followed by the comment 'but not good for my waist'. We all have heard before and especially if you ever followed a weight loss diet, that alcohol contains quite a few calories and it doesn't help with losing weight.

Do you gain weight with alcohol?

However, in a world were something new comes out every day, how true is that and could it be that alcohol is responsible for the extra weight? Bellow we have looked at what research has to say and whether you need to say goodbye to a favourite past time; having a drink that is.

Looking at a few studies it appears that nothing is as clear cut as it seems. Some studies have shown one thing some studies have shown another thing and so on. Based on that I have looked bellow in some of the main points and beliefs about alcohol consumption and whether they are true or not.

1# Alcohol contains calories

Yes indeed alcohol does contain calories and some drinks can be quite calorie heavy for that matter. So consuming alcohol will add up to your total weekly or daily (depending how often you drink) calorie intake. However, whether these calories do add up to weight gain is not clear cut.

Here are some of the calories different drinks contain. Calorific values are an example and would vary depending on the brand and the alcohol percentage contained. You can also use our calorie calculator to find values of your favourite drinks:


Calories Kcal

Lager (beer) - 1 pint,  4% alcohol


Wine – 1 glass 175ml, 13% alcohol


Whiskey – 25ml shot


Champagne – 1 glass 175ml, 12% alcohol


Baileys – 50ml, shot 17% alcohol


Vodka – 25ml, shot 40% alcohol


Gin – 25ml, 37.5% alcohol


Bacardi – 25ml, 37.5% alcohol


Spirit mixed – 25ml shot + mixer, 37.5% alcohol



2# Extra calories coming from alcohol will lead to putting on weight

In simple words if you consume more calories than you need then you should put on weight. If these extra calories come from alcohol then it should translate to weight gain. However, studies seem to show that this is not quite the case. Moderate alcohol consumption in women does not seem to lead to weight gain. If anything women who consumed moderate amounts of alcohol gained less weight or lose weight than non drinkers.

3# Men are different from women

Yes even in alcoholic calories men are from Mars and women are from Venus. If you are a woman there may be good news but if you are a man not so good. As mentioned above women do not show to put on weight whereas men are more likely to do. Alcohol consumption was related to weight gain in men regardless of the kind of drink they consumed (see also our weight loss tips for men).

Although it is not clear why this takes place, one of the possible reasons given is hormonal and metabolic differences between the two genders.

4# Alcohol will stop you burning fat

Your body will burn the alcohol (well the products of the alcohol) first as a fuel in favour of fat. In addition, alcohol is shown to suppress the actual burning of fat process (fatty acid oxidation). Read also our how to burn fat with food article.

However, it is suggested the process of utilising alcohol in your body tends to require more energy; therefore you will also be using more calories to do that. In real terms, researchers are not quite sure why women tend to not put on weight however with alcohol so they give a number of different reasons, different dietary choice being one of them.

In addition, some studies suggest that consumption of alcohol (even low levels) can improve the HDL and LDL profiles of women consuming a high-fat diet which is typical in the U.S but does not have an effect in low-fat diet followers. To put it simply, these lipoproteins (HDL and LDL) are referring to cholesterol, and to an extend lipid metabolism, and all they are saying is that improved cholesterol profiles are connected to low risk of cardiovascular disease. Although you can get improved profiles of cholesterol when following a low-fat diet, alcohol will not have an extra effect.

5# Alcohol will increase your appetite

Now some studies say yes some say no. There is the binge eating thing that tends to happen after a heavy night out. You may have been there, where you have come back home on a Saturday night after a few too many, with a large kebab and fries or a large pizza and eaten it all. Often you find out the next morning mainly because a piece of pizza may still be stuck on your chin.      

On the other hand there are studies which have not found any differences in appetite level between alcohol and no alcohol consumption. Scientists in other words are unsure and debate the whole alcohol makes you eat more theory. What they may have observed however, is that women tend to eat less carbohydrates (sugar in particular) overall when consuming moderate amounts of alcohol. This could suggest that women may be substituting the sugar with alcohol.

6# The beer belly phenomenon

It is quite a typical image, a man with a big belly and a beer on his hand and I am sure you may have heard people saying it is a beer belly. Now that is not 100% true. You will not be storing the beer on your belly as it may have been suggested in the past and the 'beer belly' may just be an urban legend in some ways. However, it may be that in indirect ways beer may cause increase in abdominal fat.

This comes from the environmental estrogens theories. Some studies suggest that consumption of environmental estrogens does lead to fat being stored in the abdomen. Beer contains such estrogens and although there is not a lot of straight forward evidence it may be that it plays a role in that belly. See also 5 tips on how to lose belly fat

In conclusion, do you gain weight with alcohol?

Well if you are a woman it definitely seems as it is better news than if you are a man. Scientists tend to suggest that women can enjoy the one or two glasses of wine at the end of a stressful day and not pile the pounds on after all.

However, alcohol can have some negative effects in health and also what effect the different types of alcoholic drinks have has not been studied to a large extend. Keeping in things in moderation and drinking wisely is not a bad way to go.

9 Tips about alcohol and Weight Loss

Here are some tips to help you further:         

   Tip1.   Avoid the takeaways. If you are a Weekend post-party binge eater maybe try to avoid the takeaway place at the end of the night. When you are drunk and merry is harder to say no to a full on heavy calorific meal (see also How to control your desire of food).

   Tip2.   Don't drink on an empty stomach and eat something before you go out. You are more likely to be hungry after the drinking session and attack anything you can find. Also this is not a good treatment for your stomach and they do say that you don't get drunk as easy. Think of your health as well.

   Tip3.   Drink water in between drinks. Yes you heard that before I'm sure. You will be potentially drinking less alcohol and also it does miracles for that next day hangover. Alcohol can make you visit the toilet once too many times, and you could be potentially be dehydrating yourself. Drinking water between drinks will keep you hydrated.

   Tip4.   If you are thirsty drink water first, before going for alcohol. I remember a friend we were on holidays in Greece with. He would say I am thirsty let's get a beer. Now I never understood how having alcohol in 400C was a good but also if you are thirsty why not drink water (or a juice even). If you are thirsty you are more likely to drink more alcoholic drinks and faster.

   Tip5.   Opt for red wine. Some studies suggest that red wine has protective effects for the heart and general health. It tends to get praised as being one of the elements in Mediterranean dietary patterns which benefit health. However, in moderation is the magic word here.

   Tip6.   Avoid the sweet drinks. There are a number of low alcohol mixed drinks and they are often called 'alcopops'. Now these tend to contain a lot of added sugar and mixers which are not very calorie friendly. Plus the more sugar an alcoholic drink contains the more drunk people tend to get.

   Tip7.   It is ok to be 'teetotal'. In other words if you do not want to indulge in alcohol you don't need to worry about it. You don't have to start drinking just to keep your weight down. It s not a diet and it is a personal preference. I am sure that there are millions of non drinkers who are doing just as well with their weight.

   Tip8.   Consult an appropriate medical professional. If for any reason you have any concerns with your alcohol intake, your weight or any other issues the most appropriate people to ask are appropriately qualified medical professionals. Alcohol can have negative effects in health as already mentioned, and also it could contradict some medical conditions and/or medications. Before making any choices, changes or decisions you should seek appropriate advice.

   Tip9.   Don't obsess with calorie counting and don't starve in the name of a drink. This is nothing new I am saying. Be aware that alcoholic drinks do contain calories and that you could be consuming the equivalent of 2 meals in one party session. However, as you can see, research does not 100% agree that you will necessarily pile on the pounds. Don't starve yourself just so you can have a drink and keep the calories in a range. Drink wisely and eat wisely should do the trick.


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