Does Alcohol cause weight gain? This is a question that I am often asked and as Toronto naturopath, I can’t help but notice that North Amercian culture is one that is very devoted to the drinking of alcohol, especially socially. This has many people wondering if it is okay to drink while you are trying to lose weight
Is It True That Alcohol Has Nothing to Do With Fat?
You might feel that you can drink alcohol while you are trying to lose weight because oddly, no conclusive studies have ever proved that drinking alcohol actually causes you to put on the pounds. In fact, many At least scientifically, studies have often proved the opposite and many cite that drinking red wine is anti-aging and good or you. Still, consuming alcohol socially, at least in Canada, seems to go hand in hand with the stereotype of the overweight person with the “beer belly.”
A study done by the British Regional Heart Study actually recently concluded that drinking alcohol had very little to do with fat. This is surprising because alcohol can have a lot of calories in it. Most of the alcohol that we consume contains at least 7 calories per gram and certain mixed drinks, beer and champagne can also contain a lot of carbohydrates. However these researchers found no correlation between alcoholism and weight gain (and neither could several studies that were done by Japanese scientists in the last decade.
The true relationship between alcohol consumption and body weight may be a big mystery to nutritionists but not so much of a mystery to people in AA. Psychiatrists and teetolars see a lack of discipline to do with drinking leading to a lack of discipline in other areas of the person’s life (including diet and exercise.) For instance a person that is badly hung over might be less inclined to exercise the morning after a drinking binge simply because they feel too awful. When an alcoholic dehydrates their body, the body might also go into the mode that it does when it is saving up body tissue for a potential famine and start storing fat cells. People who drink to excess are always governed by cravings for the fat, greasy food that is often the cure for a hangover, they may not always be getting the nutrition that they need which is another trigger that tells the body to store fat.
Yet another indirect relationship of alcohol to weight loss is the fact that people who drink a lot of alcohol often don’t feel hungry, especially if they are drinking a lot. This is because alcohol has a way of stifling hunger. This can cause the person to eat at irregular times of the day or not often enough during the day, which can also cause weight gain. Alcoholics consume many empty calories and do not gain wait at all.
Recovery From Drinking and Weight Gain
A well-known fact about alcoholics is that they tend to have more than one addiction (besides their fondness for booze.) Very often an eating disorder of some kind accompanies the alcoholism. Even more common is the tendency for the alcoholic to gain weight after quitting drinking simply because food then becomes the substitute for the gratification that the person used to get from drinking a lot of alcohol. The process of recovery from drinking can also make some folks very angry, so they will eat to “stuff” those feelings that they are experiencing as part of the recovery process down.
Yet another thing to consider is that drinking too much alcohol destroys Vitamins including Vitamin B-12. This type of deficiency can harm the level as well as cause cravings for fatty foods.
So it seems that some people gain weight indirectly from the consequences of drinking alcohol and others don’t gain any weight directly from drinking alcohol. It has also been suggested that the reason that some people don’t gain weight when they drink is because the body does not metabolize it very well. Another theory, established by a scientist named Klesges in 1994, is that drinking alcohol actually seems to increase the metabolic rate in the human body which of course would cause more calories to be burned rather than stored in the body as fat. So this theory explains why most people don’t gain weight from directly consuming alcohol. Yet another factor may be that people tend to consume less sugar when they drink alcohol, as alcohol seems to simply cut the cravings
Hangovers Create Cravings for Calories
Although metabolic activity may increase and cravings for food decrease when we are drinking, the high-energy euphoria of getting drunk doesn’t last. As soon as the hangover hits the next morning many people reach for fattening unhealthy foods to help replace the nutrients in their body that have been destroyed by a bout of heavy drinking. This in itself may account for the weight gain that people who drink a lot of alcohol seem to fall prey to.
For more information about natural treatments for addiction and weight loss, nutritional counseling, biofeedback, acupuncture, vitamin B injections or to book a consultation about anti-aging, naturopathic testing, or any health issue you may be experiencing, visit the Pinewood Natural Healthcare Centre website that has a list of full services and products at www.pinewoodhealth.ca or call our Toronto Office at (416)-656- 8100. We also have an office in Pickering, Ontario at (905)-427-0057. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be happy to answer any question that you have about our holistic health services.