There are two things many people enjoy doing and they are having a drink and burning fat. It will come as no surprise however that one of those actually impedes the other. A mere 3 ounces of alcohol reduces fat burning capability by a third so you can imagine the problem that it poses to those who drink significantly much more than this.
Alcoholism by itself is a dangerous disease with rippling catalyst effects but it also incites some very unhealthy disabilities in those it affects. When you learn that drinking and losing weight work in opposition to each other, it may not be sufficient to get you to cut back but it is information you should know.
In a sort of domino affect, there’s one example of just how far-reaching the effects of alcoholism are: alcoholism -> diabetes -> inevitable, unmovable weight retention. Simplistic as it may seem, you could very well switch the last two items in the flow and still be left with the same result which is poor health.
While there are many underlying, psychological and circumstantial root causes for alcoholism that need to be dealt with in order to treat it specifically, the additional issue of being an overweight alcoholic poses even greater health problems. In short, If You Booze, You Won’t Lose. The science behind it isn’t that complicated but you need to understand it if you want to have any hope of getting better and getting healthy.
When you consume alcohol, your body breaks it down to a chemical state known as acetate which, for all intents and purposes, is very similar in chemical composition to vinegar. The body will burn the acetate first before any of the other calories you’ve stored or consumed, inclusive of fats and sugars.
When you drink or consume more calories than are needed for your body type, metabolic rate and activity level, you’re more than likely storing the fat from your cheeseburger and the sugar from your root beer because your body is sourcing all its energy from that glass of wine you sloshed down earlier.
Studies have also proven that alcohol actually inhibits what is known as lipid oxidation which is the process by which the body burns fat that is already in its system. Since consuming fat is probably the most metabolically efficient way to get it in your system, you actually use a small number of calories when you turn excess carbohydrates and protein into body fat. However, excess fat finds its way quite easily to your stomach and thighs. So, hypothetically speaking, adherence to a high alcohol + high fat diet is the easiest way to gain unhealthy weight.
Your best bet as an alcoholic who is overweight is to engage in a holistic approach to dealing with both issues simultaneously. If you marry your alcohol treatment with healthy diet, regular exercise and active lifestyle habits, you will increase your body’s ability to burn fat, lose weight and in general, attain a higher level of health and recuperation.
Mark Dilworth, BA, PES