Alcohol and Dieting: What You Need to Know

Unfortunately, alcohol isn't magic. It doesn't possess vanishing calories that will disappear the second you take a sip of that delicious cocktail. But is it true that if you quit drinking beer you'll lose weight? All good things come with a price, and unfortunately alcohol is no exception. Sure, there are studies that have revealed that consuming certain kinds of alcohol in controlled quantities can be conducive to a healthy lifestyle, but overall alcohol and weight loss just don't mix.

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Alcohol negatively impacts your metabolism. One of the primary reasons alcohol contributes to weight gain is because your body actually metabolizes it differently than other foods and drinks. Think about the foods you normally consume: fruit, carbs, veggies, dairy and protein. All of those are composed of a variety of nutrients that your metabolism must work to break down and digest. Those nutrients are utilized throughout your body, and then disposed of by your digestive tract.

But it's different with alcohol. Your body views alcohol as a toxin, and instead of trying to digest it and break it down, it focuses all of its attention on getting the alcohol out. The alcohol disperses through the wall of your stomach and reaches the brain and liver in a matter of minutes. If you drink too much, your liver gets overwhelmed and is not able to process the alcohol. Instead of focusing on digesting the other nutrients in your stomach, the liver gets weighed down by excess alcohol, and the foods that aren't broken down properly are stored as fat permanently in your body. So yep, alcohol is fattening.

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Alcohol causes dehydration. You may think that downing a couple "light" beers is the perfect way to indulge and watch your waistline, but alcohol is considered a diuretic. Excessive drinking causes you to lose water and become dehydrated very quickly. Staying hydrated is a critical component of weight loss, and unfortunately, you're not just peeing out water. You also lose vital minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc. These key elements are fundamental for vital bodily functions.

Alcohol still counts as calories. Vodka might look like water, but it still packs a punch when it comes to calorie count. There are almost 70 calories in a shot of vodka, and those calories are not nutrient-dense! Most alcohol — especially hard liquor — offers no nutritional value, so you are basically drinking empty calories. Why not invest those calories in something a little more wholesome? Learn more about eating the right calories here.

Alcohol lowers your inhibitions. A couple drinks may seem like no big deal, but alcohol is an appetite stimulant. After a couple drinks, consuming a slice (or four) of pizza, or a hunk of your daughter's leftover birthday cake doesn't sound like such a bad idea. Before we know it, your willpower and determination go right out the window.

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>> Read more: Is Alcohol Screwing Up Your Fitness?

We're not saying that you need to ditch the drinks altogether. In moderation, alcohol is completely acceptable and won't hinder your weight loss goals. We would just advise you to choose carefully! Stick to a glass of wine or a light beer, rather than a mixed drink or cocktail. You can watch your figure and enjoy yourself without suffering any of the nasty consequences of overindulgence! For more information, check out these sources: Spark People, Health.com, and Livestrong.com.