Many people drink alcoholic beverages in social settings or in the evenings, and while it can help relaxation or enjoyment, it can also negatively impact health and weight loss goals. Although some research suggests moderate alcohol consumption may be beneficial for your health, regular alcohol consumption can increase your appetite, negatively affect hormones related to fullness, disrupt quality sleep, and can potentially lead to weight gain (1).
Often times, we forget that alcohol itself is an energy source. One gram of alcohol is equivalent to 7.1 calories, and when alcohol is in the body, it’s the first thing the liver wants to metabolize (it’s actually a toxin) (1). This additional energy/calorie intake can sneak in and contribute to weight gain or create a weight-loss plateau. Heavy drinking is correlated with an increased risk of obesity (1). Drinking alcohol can also lead to higher body fat in adults (1).
We eat more:
Alcohol can make a difference in the amount of food we eat at meals. Multiple studies have shown that people do not eat less at meals to account for the alcohol they are consuming with that meal (1). In fact, people usually eat the same amount, or even more, irrespective of the the extra alcohol calories (1). Therefore, alcohol does not appear to affect an individual’s fullness (1). It may actually do the opposite and increase a person’s food intake. Also, researchers believe that alcohol increases a person’s perception of their appetite when they see food (1). Our eyes tend to be bigger than our stomachs when we’ve had a drink or two and our good judgment seems to disappear.
Alcohol impacts our hunger hormones:
Alcohol can also affect satiety hormones (1). Many studies suggest that alcohol may impact energy intake by inhibiting leptin (our “I’m full” hormone) (1). As you’ve learned in 131 Method, leptin regulates body weight and food consumption. When body fat increases, leptin levels also increase and the appetite is suppressed to help with weight loss (2). Alcohol can also increase hunger through multiple central mechanisms in the body. Since alcohol prevents fat oxidation (the breakdown of fat), researchers propose that this could lead to fat sparing and possibly higher body fat in the future (1).
Alcohol disrupts our sleep:
Lastly, alcohol can negatively affect your sleep. It reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is an essential restorative part of the sleep cycle (1). Getting enough sleep is crucial and we don’t want to interfere with that!
Research shows that moderate amounts of alcohol may have some health benefits (1). Moderate alcohol consumption is 1 drink a day for women and 2 drinks a day for men (3). A drink is classified as 12 fluid ounces of beer, 5 fluid ounces of wine, or 1.5 fluid ounces of distilled spirits (3). Ultimately, it is your decision if you want to have alcoholic beverages during the 131 Method. We provide healthier cocktail ideas for you! Take the information above and use your best judgment, as this is YOUR diet!