The Perils and Pitfalls of Alcohol

The Perils and Pitfalls of Alcohol


We have all been there.

It’s Saturday night. Just one drink. Okay maybe another. I’ll do an extra half hour at the gym. Oh NO what time is it?!

Like everything else, it’s not the poison, it’s the dose. Alcohol in small measures can actually have a health benefit. But go over that easily crossed limit and you’ve smashed your diet, upset your liver, and set your metabolism to gain.

Here’s how it works.

5 Ways Alcohol Hinders Fat Loss

Concentrated calories, 7 per gram means a single shot of vodka has over 100 calories.  Alcohol lossens inhibitions and stimulates appetite,  a one-two punch that is not a good diet combination. Alcohol stresses and can damage your kidneys, liver, and stomach – all major digestion organs. And finally, testosterone helps you lose weight by regulating your metabolic rate, alcohol lowers your testosterone levels which negatively impacts your ability to lose weight.

So what happens to your body when you drink?

After your first drink, your body starts to get rid of the alcohol quickly using the alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) pathway.1 In this pathway, ADH converts the alcohol into acetaldehyde, which gets further broken down to acetate. These by-products (acetaldehyde and acetate) are considered to be highly reactive and can increase oxidation throughout the body, but especially in the liver.

Because your body sees these by-products as dangerous, it wants to use them as fuel.This means your body will significantly blunt fat-burning close to 75% after just one and a half drinks.2 And it will stop using carbs for energy. Therefore, although very little alcohol will be stored as fat (less than 5%), the fat and carbs you are eating have an increased risk of being stored as fat.

Your liver can process these toxins through the increased use of certain vitamins, such as the water soluble vitamins B1, B3, B6, folate and C, while also possibly depleting some of the fat-soluble vitamins, A, E and K1. Over-time these decreases in vitamins can play a secondary role in loss of motivation, energy, and well-being.

After your first couple of drinks, your brain also starts to increase its usage of GABA. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain and is a large reason why alcohol is known as a “depressant.” Over time, the GABA receptors get used to the effects of alcohol, which is a reason why people may need more and more alcohol to feel the effects from alcohol consumption.3 GABA is also the neurotransmitter, principally responsible for allowing you to stay asleep. Therefore when your brain uses more of it before you go to sleep, you have less while you’re actually sleeping, causing a disruption in restful sleep.

Alcohol also affects the higher processing areas of the brain, the cerebral cortex, while leaving the lower areas of the brain somewhat unaffected. This leaves you more emotional than you would normally be. If you’ve ever experienced “drunk logic” while doing or saying things you would never think to do sober, then you’ve experienced the inhibitory effects of having your cerebral cortex taken out of the equation.

While your body has started to use the alcohol as energy, your body releases anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) to help your body rid itself of the alcohol. This basically means that your urine volume increases significantly (about 100 ml per 10 grams of alcohol).4 If you’ve ever “broken the seal,” you know that the more you continue to drink, the more frequently you use the restroom.

Since your kidneys are working over-time, your body releases an increase in certain minerals and electrolytes especially calcium, magnesium, copper, selenium and manganese. All of these play important roles not only in blood volume, but in bone health, blood pressure and the anti-oxidant pathways.

In addition to everything above, a small increase in cortisol typically occurs with moderate drinking while testosterone levels will drop about 6.8% in men (not so much in women).5 Aromatase will also increase. Aromatase is an enzyme that helps to convert testosterone to estrogen and is obviously not something that is welcomed by many guys.


So what to do? Obviously you are not an abuser of alcohol but a drink every now and again is nice.

And that is okay. In fact, studies have shown that a moderate amount of drinking is beneficial, especially for women. But you must be careful, especially while dieting.

Here are some tips on How to Dring Without Gaining Weight.

Rule #1: Always eat when you drink

Rule #2: Know that some drinks make you hungrier than others

Rule #3: Stick to a drink or two, tops

Rule #4: Beware that gnawing, starving feeling the next day

As we noted before, it’s not the poison, it’s the dose. Stick to the rules above and you should be able to enjoy yourself without wrecking your HealthStyle.

If you found this blog post helpful, imagine how helpful having three credentialed MyHealthStyle coaches would be! Visit for more information!




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