Can alcohol make you fat?

By: Robin Heron

Author: Canadian Living


Can alcohol make you fat?

By: Robin Heron
Whether it's wine with dinner or drinks with friends, many of us enjoy an evening sipping on an alcoholic beverage or two. And now, with the release of a recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine stating that women who are light to moderate drinkers may be less likely to become obese than non-drinkers, we ladies may be tempted to raise our glasses in celebration.

Not so fast
According to Dr. Joey Shulman, one of Canada's leading authorities on health and nutrition, and author of The Last 15: A Weight Loss Breakthrough, this particular study runs counter to years of research on the subject, and alcohol is still a contributing factor to unwelcome weight gain.

"I think this might be a one-off," she says. "There is a substantial amount of information out there to show that alcohol results in a loss of inhibitions about food choices and increases calorie intake – and it's not just the calories that lead to weight gain, but the fact that alcohol is processed in the body in a different way which promotes fat storage."

So, not only does alcohol make you hungrier and more likely to choose unhealthy snack choices, but the calories you consume through alcohol will be processed first, before carbohydrates, fats or proteins, thus slowing down how fast your body can burn through its excess stores of energy.

Making better choices
However, Shulman says this doesn't mean that we have to sacrifice the cocktail hour completely; we just have to make better beverage choices and practice moderation in order to stay fit and healthy. For women, this means one standard drink per day, and for men, two standard drinks.

Also, we must control the urge to indulge in all those tempting treats that seem like such a great idea during a night out. As a healthier alternative, choose low-calorie options like fruits and veggies if you are a big snacker.

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In addition, Shulman recommends avoiding sugar-laden drinks that increase unnecessary calorie consumption, such as mixed cocktails and martinis.

"Any time you have hard liquor that’s a hundred calories, and then add soda on top of that and you are adding a lot of extra sugar," she says. "Long Island iced teas are off the charts."

Healthier options
Instead she recommends red or white wine as healthier alternatives, pointing out that red wine has the added benefit of heart healthy ingredients like antioxidants and resveratrol.

For dieters and women watching their weight, she also warns against skimping on food in order to add an alcoholic beverage into their target calorie intake. This can lead to vitamin deficiencies, poor nutrition and low energy levels that will impede them from maintaining proper activity levels and a healthy metabolism, making weight-loss much more difficult.

"There are women who will skip healthy food choices to bank their calories, and that's never a good idea," she says. "In moderation, alcohol is absolutely fine, but you just have to choose to enjoy it the right way."

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Can alcohol make you fat?