Did you know that drinking alcohol STALLS fat loss, even with a calorie deficit?

It’s true! Alcohol– wine, beer, and liquor affects not just our mood and inhibitions, but also our body’s ability to burn fat.

Here are 4 reasons to avoid or at least limit alcohol consumption during the holiday season and most other seasons too.

1) Alcohol, more specifically liquor, is literally empty calories…LITERALLY. In fact, two Oreo cookies have more nutritional value than a shot of vodka—for the SAME number of calories. But with the Oreos you get a little something that your body can use– a few carbs and some fat for fuel and a trace of vitamins and minerals in the enriched flour.

Vodka might be 0 carbohydrates, but it’s also zero anything else, except calories, coming in at 7 calories per gram! Almost twice as many calories than those found in carbohydrates and protein!  (4 calories per gram)

And unless you’re just doing straight up vodka shots, I can almost guarantee you that you’re consuming far more extra calories than you realize in those mixers.

2) Alcohol messes with our judgement. This is a big reason why we love it so much. Having a beer or a cocktail at a party allows us to lose some of our natural inhibitions– some call it liquid courage. This can be a lot of fun…until it isn’t anymore and you’re lying on the floor in the bathroom with your face pressed against the cold tile wishing the room would stop spinning (I have no idea what that’s like…ha!)— but the loss of those inhibitions and judgment also leads to decisions we wouldn’t normally make. I’m not just talking about hitting on your boss’s spouse, I’m talking about grazing longer at the buffet or hitting up Jack-n-the-Box on your way home, adding more mindless calories for our body to store as fat.

3) Alcohol slows weight loss and not just because of the extra empty calories.

Because the body so easily metabolizes alcohol (uses it for fuel) as long as there’s is alcohol in your system you body will not burn stored fat for fuel. Depending on how much and how often you drink you could be in a constant state of keeping your body from burning stored fat; AKA- losing weight.

I can’t find it now, but I remember learning at some point that it can take almost THREE days for your body to recover from drinking alcohol in order to revert back to fat burning mode. I don’t know about you, but a good buzz for a few hours isn’t worth postponing my health and lifestyle goals!

4) Even if you’re not concerned with your weight or fat loss right now, alcohol can wreak havoc on the liver, kidneys, and stomach lining and damaging these organs prevents your body from efficiently metabolizing the foods we consume.

This is why detox programs are so popular. However, a 3 day juice cleanse is not going to completely undo the damage or instantly get things back in working order.  As with all things, consistency is key.

So what do you do instead of drink?

Well, that’s up to you, because you are the one in control! But here are some options to consider…

  • You can choose to sacrifice the fat loss, if you can truly enjoy a margarita without guilt or shame. Sometimes it’s just worth it and that’s okay!
  • You can order a virgin drink where you’ll still get the added calories found in the mixer, but you’ll avoid that halt in the fat burning process– as long as you still have a calorie deficit.
  • You can choose to abstain completely. Find the courage within yourself to get up and dance, talk to strangers, and enjoy your evening while remaining in complete control of your faculties and your choices!
  • You can enjoy a drink or two, separated by water (sparkling if you want to feel festive) to pace yourself throughout the evening– you know, moderation!

Enjoying an alcoholic beverage or two (sometimes more) isn’t a bad thing, but it’s something that should be done with knowledge and understanding so we can make the best choices for ourselves and our goals. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, knowledge is power! The more knowledge you have the better armed you are to make the best decisions for YOU.

If (when) you drink alcohol, I always recommend a pacer– libation in one hand, water in the other. Sip both to avoid over intoxication.

Side note: because most alcoholic beverages are loaded with sugar, they actually make you more thirsty which makes you drink even more. So quench the thirst with water and drink responsibly!

Whatever you do, enjoy yourself. Remember that you are in control. You make the choices that are best for you. There’s no right or wrong answer, just the one that allows you to feel your best– physically, mentally and emotionally.

Wishing you continued, happy, healthy holidays!