Monday, April 14, 2008

How alcohol calories can hinder your fat loss

For the past three months, I've been consistent about going to the gym either during my lunch hour or after work (or both) on average 4.5 days/week. I'll either do 30 minutes of cardio training or 20-30 minutes cardio and strength training. I think I've made some progress--I've lost 4 pounds since, my body has more tone, and my cardio level has improved greatly!

Still, I can't seem to shake the last 6 pounds to reach my ideal goal. My diet has been better than the last quarter of the past year. I'm eating more lean proteins, vegetables, and fruits; limiting processed food whenever possible. I wondered what am I doing wrong? My physical activity and diet is a 200% improvement from the sedentary life I had since last summer (I basically interact with my computer and munched on crackers all day) so what I am doing now is better than the nothing I did before and certainly should yield some good progress, right? But all I have to show is a few pounds of weight loss and yeah, my clothes are little more forgiving.

I'm suspecting the one culprit that is hindering my weight loss progress and that is alcohol. Yep, the gin and tonics, red wine, dirty martinis, and beer I drink throughout the week are sabotaging my progress. With boating season upon us, I will have three to six drinks just over the weekend and oh gawd--I don't want to do the math to account for the entire week!

So I did some research to see how alcohol calories are processed and burned by the body. This article was most useful: Why alcohol calories are more important than fat...

The main points are that alcohol is converted into a substance called acetate and the sharp rise (for example, after a drink) in acetate puts the brakes on fat loss because the body will burn acetate before fat (in effect putting fat burning after acetate).

If you read the article, you'll also find how alcohol increases the appetite and decreases muscle mass, one of our fat burning mechanisms.

I've always been aware of the downside of alcohol more than the health benefits but that has not slowed me down from drinking. After reading this article, I only want to drink more...LOL!! (It's funny, I have this sudden urge and I think it's the rebellion in me but seriously, this article gives me more reasons to decrease my intake and eventually I would like to "rarely" drink alcohol.

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