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How booze contributes to belly fat

Like many mums you may be doing really well on your weight-loss plan but still find that you are craving a glass of wine a few times a week.

Today the Healthy Mummy team are looking at the effects of alcohol and weight loss – especially alcohol and belly fat.

When you eat or drink more calories than you burn, the excess calories are stored as fat. Exactly where your body stores that fat is determined in part by your age, sex, and your hormones.

How booze contributes to belly fat

Alcohol is metabolised differently than other foods and drinks. Normally, your body gets its energy from the calories in carbohydrates, fats and proteins, which are slowly digested and absorbed within the gastrointestinal system.

However, this digestive process changes when alcohol is there. When you drink alcohol, it gets immediate attention (because it is seen by the body as a toxin) and needs no digestion.

Alcohol Delays Liver’s Ability To Break Down Fat

Generally speaking, alcohol intake is associated with having a bigger waist because when you drink alcohol the liver burns alcohol instead of fat. Alcohol also suppresses testosterone production, the primary metabolic hormone, this can last up to 24 hours following consumption.

So not only does alcohol delay your liver’s ability to break down fat, it also obstructs your body’s access to the hormones it needs to help you break down fat.

When the body is focused on processing alcohol, it is not able to properly break down foods containing carbohydrates and fat. Therefore, these calories are converted into body fat and are carried away for permanent storage on your body.

Even though alcohol contains calories, alcohol doesn’t satisfy us in the same way that food does. This means we don’t end up consuming fewer food calories to compensate for those we’ve drank.

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Booze Makes Us Eat More

In fact, alcohol can make us want to eat more! Alcohol increases your appetite by suppressing leptin, the hormone which normally tells your brain to stop eating and negatively affects many other brain chemicals that are involved in appetite suppression.

It can also makes us lose our inhibitions, making the decision to grab a slice of pizza or a greasy burger all the more easy. Our healthy food choices become less important to us!

Another important fact to remember is alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that it causes water loss and dehydration. Along with this water loss, you lose important minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc.

These minerals are vital to the maintenance of fluid balance, chemical reactions, and muscle contraction and relaxation.

Alcohol affects your body in other negative ways, it may help induce sleep, but the sleep you get isn’t very deep. You get less rest, which can trigger you to eat more calories the next day.

All this information can be good and well, and if you must enjoy a social drink here and there!  But just remember that when drinking, try to have one low calorie drink, ideally water, between each alcoholic beverage to limit your intake.

Have a meal before you have any alcohol and choose low energy density foods. Filling up on foods that provide few calories is a good way to reduce your overall energy consumption.  Vegetables and fruit are ideal for this and are also highly nutritious.

But if you are totally serious about losing that belly fat, we encourage anyone to rethink their drinking habits. Alcohol consumption will lead to a larger waistline and a bigger belly! And who wants that?

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