What effect does alcohol have on both fat loss or weight maintenance?
While there are general rules, you can always find an exception.I know one person who has two alcoholic drinks per day – and yet has lost 15% of their body weight – virtually all fat. At the same time they have experienced strength increases (from intense weight training).
Like many other issues in nutrition – there are no hard and fast rules – it is up to you to see what works for you. However – it is worth taking into account the following points.
- Many alcoholic drinks are empty calories. They provide little nutritional value.
- While the liver is busy metabolizing alcohol, it is unable to metabolize fat.
- 1 can of beer (average): 153 Calories
- 1 glass of wine (average): 124 Calories
- Pre-mixed drinks (such as Smirnoff Vodka Twist): 216 Calories per 100 mls.
It is clear that Calories can mount up and must be factored into your daily food intake.
What About the Beer Belly?
Start researching the relationship between beer and fat gain and you will find complete contradictions. Some claim that people who are regular beer drinkers typically also have a poor diet and are sedentary, and are therefore prone to weight gain.
Arthur Agatston – in his book The South Beach Diet – squarely blamed the maltose content in beer for causing the beer belly. He later backtracked after criticism about such claims. An intriguing research paper into the carbohydrate content of beer can be found here (PDF – note that this appeared in a journal about brewing.)
The BBC have also claimed the beer belly is a myth – citing Czech research showing no link between a large abdomen and beer drinking habits.
Despite the research, I have never seen a regular beer drinker who is in peak physical condition. I have also seen a number of ‘skinny-fat’ beer drinkers – men who have little muscle mass, and generally appear low in body fat — except for a large amount of abdominal fat (visceral or otherwise).
Alcohol is a personal choice. If you are trying to change your physical condition but are not getting results – then it’s worth assessing alcoholic intake. Alcohol has many effects on the body, and you will need help with alcoholism if you think you’ve been drinking too much of it.