Drinking and Weight Loss

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Does moderate drinking prevent weight loss or contribute to fat storage?

If you ask a personal trainer, the likely response will be not to drink at all if you want to lose weight. Why? Because the average person looking to lose a significant amount of weight normally has issues with portion control and healthy food selection. Women that are significantly overweight tend to eat too much salt or sugar and not enough fruit and vegetables, which promote weight gain.

However, an interesting article posted in Women’s Health Magazine, states that moderate drinking may be better on the waist line than weekend “ladies night out” cocktails. Here’s the skinny on the article:

Your average drink—beer, wine, martini, pick your poison—is usually a combination of carbs, sugar, and ethanol (pure alcohol). When it goes down the hatch, it makes a pit stop at your stomach, where some of the alcohol is absorbed through the lining and into your bloodstream, giving you that initial buzz. The carbs and sugar go the traditional digestive route, while ethanol, a toxin, is diverted to the liver.

This is when that innocent little drink starts messing with your internal fat incinerator. Ethanol has no nutritional value, so your body burns it off first. That means any remaining calories in your stomach—whether they’re from the margarita or the chips and guacamole you had with it—will likely be stored as fat. And the more fattening the foods you eat, the easier the calories are to store. (Bear in mind that research published in Physiology & Behavior found that alcohol makes us focus on immediate pleasure and ignore the consequences, which often results in eating junk food.) Unlike protein and carbs, which require some energy for the body to break down and store, fat can directly deposit itself, so those chips are first in line to be plastered to your thighs.

Researchers found that women who had one or two alcoholic drinks a day were actually less likely to gain weight than those who shunned the sauce.

Researchers believe that the bodies of long-term moderate drinkers somehow adapt to metabolize alcohol differently than heavy or occasional drinkers. They use more energy, burning the calories in the drink—or even more than that—while digesting it, says Lu Wang, M.D., Ph.D., the lead researcher of the study and an instructor in medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Evidence suggests that moderate drinkers also tend to practice healthier habits than teetotalers. If you’re used to having three or four drinks every week as part of your diet, you’re probably compensating for them with fewer calories elsewhere. “These women know how to moderate how much they drink, so it makes sense that they’d moderate what they eat as well,” says Robert Klesges, Ph.D., a professor of preventive medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis. The Archives study found that these women also exercise more, which knocks off additional calories.

Ladies, weigh in here: does drinking promote or prevent weight loss for you?

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