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Is Alcohol Poison? How Much is Too Much Alcohol? Can I Drink Alcohol While Trying to Lose Weight?

Ok. Listen. I love drinking; specifically alcohol. I love red wine & fancy cocktails & gin & mescal - I really love mescal. I started drinking at 11 & was a functional alcoholic until I became pregnant with my daughter. Then when breast feeding was done, I was right back at my disfunction until I got fed up with myself, my life & allowing addiction to control my life. I got control around the age of 27, being able to eventually replace all addictive habits with healthy self soothing through resiliency work. Over the years I have still enjoyed a random, but very infrequent weekend bender or 1, maybe 2 glasses at the end of the week.

As my drinking becomes less frequent & the after effects seem to get worse...I question: how much damage is this really doing? Is it worth the 1 glass I like to have 2-3 nights a week?

I notice the cleaner my body gets - the worse alcohol feels. I notice that the more intense my fitness goals become - the more damage the alcohol does to my results.

Over the past 2 years, I've noticed Tim Ferriss mentioning that he has been exploring the toxicity levels of alcohol & one of his friends, Kevin Rose, was using an app call Less - which helps you become more mindful of your drinking habits.

Since then, Tim has brought up the topic both with Andrew Huberman of Huberman Labs & Peter Attia, a physician & author known for his research in longevity. Huberman has actually done a full 2 hour podcast on the many different effects of alcohol.

Find the webpage with bullet point notes & bookmarked sections of the podcast here:

We also have a great 8 minute clip here from Peter Attia on the Him & Her podcast.

What I found more interesting is learning the type of calories coming from alcohol & how those behave in the body.

So get this:

alcohol = 7 calories/gram

fat = 9 calories/gram

protein & carbs = 4 calories/gram

But calories do not get digested in the stomach or intestines. They get broken down in the liver & kidneys. More interesting - they are not very available for energy use.

That's what our 'calories' are for. "How much energy are we getting from that food or beverage?" Well - check the calories. But it doesn't work that way with 'ethanol' calories, which is the only type of the 3 alcohols that humans can consume.

First of all, the calories from alcohol are not converted to glycogen, which is our main energy source. They are, however, converted to 2 other things:

  1. The body treats it as fat, converting it to fatty acids

  2. The body "metabolizes alcohol to acetaldehyde, a highly toxic substance and known carcinogen. Then, acetaldehyde is further metabolized down to another, less active byproduct called acetate,1 which then is broken down into water and carbon dioxide for easy elimination." (Link for source)

So the very popular ZERO calorie cans of Pure, Nude & those other 'skinny girl' drinks are actually bullshitting you. Let's just be clear on that. The 'mix' part of those drinks might not have any calories in them - they just have artificial sweeteners and erythritol or some other weird thing the FDA was bribed to approve. BUT the alcohol itself, depending on the 'grams' of alcohol, have 7 calories each. The company just hasn't 'added' any on top of the calories that the alcohol has brought to the table.

Another notable difference, on top of not being a source of easily useable energy, is that the calories have nothing else attached to them. For instance vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, coenzymes - you know...those things your body needs to function?

So when you consume calories from fat, protein or carbs - you get a jungle of other things your body needs to operate & function. But not with alcohol. This is possibly where the saying comes from that alcohol is 'empty calories,' they have nothing useful with them.

So is it actually true that you can't or wont lose weight if you're drinking alcohol?

Not exactly. If you're still in a caloric deficit - you basically have to lose weight. But if you're taking 100 - 300 calories from alcohol & not from another, healthy source (fat, protein, carb) you're body is suffering in a number of ways:

  1. any recovery your body needs to do from the fitness training you're doing - is happening at a lesser rate than it could - due to the missed nutrients.

  2. what your body needs to do in order to metabolize the 'poison/toxin' that it registers alcohol as, is preventing your body from properly using the nutrients it DOES have for recovery or progress systems

So even if you are losing weight, you will also be losing strength, muscle, endurance (and a bunch of your brain cells needed for impulse control & cognition.)

It's food for thought.


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If you would like to start building your Core Resiliency Skills contact Coach Julia today. You will learn how to Thrive beyond your damage, become a Transitional Character, break abuse cycles in your family & build the core resiliency skills most often missed when being raised in a low nurture environment.

Julia is a Holistic Health Consultant, holding a Double Diploma in Community Support & Addictions Work, is a Certified Transformation Specialist, Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach & a Lvl 2 Reiki Practitioner. She specializes in Trauma Informed Practice & Resiliency Coaching and Holistic Pregnancy & Postpartum Health Coaching. 

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