The unfortunate truth: why alcohol makes and keeps you fat

posted in: Fitmumas, Suffolk Babies | 0

By Mel Lewis

It probably isn’t a surprise to anyone that, however much we might enjoy a glass/bottle of our favourite tipple, there are unfortunately a multitude of hidden calories contained within that little hit of deliciousness. 

Of course we advocate the ‘everything in moderation’ approach, especially when as busy mums we all need some way to keep our sanity and help us relax and feel like ourselves again.

But, if you are trying to lose your ‘baby weight’ or just don’t feel happy in yourself right now, however much you enjoy a tipple or two there are a few things you need to know about the relationship between the booze and your body’s ability to shift the pounds. 

Alcohol has a two-fold negative effect on our ability to lose fat:

  1. Alcohol is highly calorificand easily over-consumed. Compare its calorific value with the other components of our diet: Alcohol is 7kcal/g, fat is 9 kcal/g, both protein and carbohydrate are roughly 4kcal/g
  2. The simple presence of alcohol in your system has a hugely negative impact on your ability to metabolise fat. Fact! This was illustrated by a study where eight men were given two drinks of vodka and lemonade separated by 30 minutes. Each drink contained just under 90 calories. Fat metabolism was measured before and after consumption of the drink.


The reason why alcohol has this dramatic effect on fat metabolism has to do with the way alcohol is handled in the body. Rather than getting stored as fat, the main fate of alcohol is conversion into acetate and the presence of acetate in the system puts the brakes on fat loss.

The greater the quantity of alcohol, the greater the quantity of acetate created, the less likely fat is metabolised. In other words, your body tends to use whatever you feed it, and after a time becomes adapted to the macro nutrient intake. Unfortunately when acetate levels rise, your body burns the acetate preferentially.

So the body simply burns the acetate first, this basically pushes fat oxidation out of the metabolic equation. So you are literally burning off your booze but not any of your fat stores (sorry to be the bearer of bad news).

Of course this isn’t to say that you can’t, and shouldn’t have the odd glass of wine even if you are on a weight loss mission.  However it’s worth being mindful of the facts so you can make the best choices.   But please don’t beat yourself up with guilt if you do go off the rails a little – we already have too much self-inflicted mum guilt on our shoulders, we don’t need any more 🙂

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