I recently had a friend reach out to me for some online training becoming a regular client of mine. This person will remain anonymous of course but I have permission to share what was said when we had our first consultation.
Whilst my client has always been at a great fitness level to me, she was concerned about her energy levels. Hitting 47 soon she was concerned that she was gaining excess body fat and her energy levels weren’t as high as they used to be. She had also plateaued with her fitness level and wanted to regain the buzz she always had for fitness with some guidance.
Whilst discussing where we were going with the sessions and her goals, an open and honest discussion revealed that over the past year she had increasingly drank wine of an evening after not regularly doing so in the past. Over the past week before the consultation 5 out of 7 nights she had consumed 2 glasses of wine.
I want to take the alcohol part of this consultation and reveal some facts about alcohol in this blog; which I believe is a major factor towards the negative effects my client was feeling.
If any of the above resonates slightly with you or you are simply interested then read on….
1- It is highly calorific and each calorie has zero nutritional benefit (or any health benefit for that matter).
At 7 kcal per gram, even one pint of beer a day (200kcal) is an additional 1400kcal a week. This is 5600kcal a month.
It takes 3500kcal to burn 1lb of body fat. Cutting down (or cutting OUT) alcohol is therefore a perfect way to reduce your calorie intake and therefore burn excess body fat.
2- When we drink alcohol our bodies use it as its primary source of fuel over other nutrients such as carbohydrates and fats.
As your body is desperate to get rid of the alcohol (poison) from your body it will select this as a primary source of fuel over the usual carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Unfortunately the excess calories from the other sources of food will then be stored as excess body fat. If you’re on a weight loss journey this is really not ideal as the alcohol tends to be on top of daily calorie intake ... resulting in a BIG calorie surplus. In other words, calories that you would have otherwise burnt, get stored as excess body fat.
3- Excess alcohol consumption can lead to what is known as alcoholic fatty liver.
The primary role of your liver is to act as the “filter” for any foreign substances that enter your body, such as drugs and alcohol. The liver also plays a role in the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. ‘Fatty Liver’ condition can damage your liver, affecting the way your body metabolizes and stores carbohydrates and fats. Changes in the way your body stores energy from food can make it very difficult to lose weight.
4- You WILL overeat!
Even the most die-hard fitness and health fanatic will have a hard time fighting the urge to dig in when intoxicated. (Guilty!)
Firstly whilst intoxicated, alcohol lowers inhibitions and can lead to poor decision-making in the heat of the moment — especially when it comes to food choices.
Whilst hungover your liver has worked overtime it has used up a lot of glycogen which is why we tend to crave carb and fat loaded foods the next day. This isn’t ideal as again, these foods are high in calories and therefore can put you into calorie surplus making it very difficult to lose weight.
5- Alcohol disturbs natural sleeping patterns.
A nightcap before bed may sound like a ticket to a good night’s rest but you may want to reconsider. Firstly if you re-look at the above points, in no way is your body “relaxed” by alcohol. If anything it is a stress on your body.
Research suggests that alcohol can lead to increased periods of wakefulness during sleep cycles. Sleep deprivation, whether from lack of sleep or impaired sleep, can lead to a plethora of health problems. A great book to read about these is “Why We Sleep, Matthew Walker” life changing!! As well as the many health issues surrounding sleep deprivation, studies have also suggested it causes an imbalance in hormones related to hunger, satiety and energy storage.
So..... quite a lot on alcohol! I’m not saying never drink, just be aware that it affects us in many ways! If you’re serious about losing excess body fat, these are all things to consider.
My client has reduced the nights she now has wine to 1-2. This is realistic, for now. My aim is to get her to reduce further as time goes on. I would never say give up completely; that is a decision she needs to make for herself. Consequently my client now has a tonne of extra energy and is smashing her fitness goals weekly! Proud!!
Personally I stated in January I was giving up alcohol for good. However, since then I have drank a few times. I am just highly, highly (annoyingly) aware of the effects on my body and hope to help others understand as well.
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PT, Teacher and Mum. Currently living in South East Asia. Thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do.