Are my drinking habits affecting your results?

Markus RosenbergNutrition1 Comment

Reading time: 5 min

Takeaways:

  • Alcohol disrupts functions in the body including hormones, neurotransmitters and metabolism.
  • Body size, body composition, gender and daily alcohol consumption play roles in alcohol metabolism and absorption.
  • Alcoholic beverages can contain up to 30-40 grams of carbohydrates, elevating the fat storing hormone insulin.
  • Alcohol causes dehydration and mineral deficiencies raising the stress hormone cortisol, which promotes belly fat, muscle breakdown in the extremities, reduces testosterone, sex drive and recovery from exercise.
  • Excess insulin secretion is regarded as the hormone of aging and chronic elevations of insulin have been shown to raise cortisol levels.
  • Alcohol is very energy dense and contains a high carbohydrate content which can be a major limiting factor in achieving results.

Do you have a dinner party planned or are you heading out for a social event this weekend? If so, this article may benefit you. When clients begin working with us alcohol consumption is a common role in their lifestyle. Used in moderation alcohol enhances mood by loosening inhibitions and creating a pleasant feeling of relaxation. However, the use of alcohol can be damaging to your health and prevent you from achieving the results you want. This article will describe what alcohol is, how it affects you and why you should avoid it if you/re wanting to look your best.

drinking habits affecting your results - wine being poured

What is alcohol?

Ethyl alcohol is the psychoactive ingredient in alcoholic beverages and acts as a depressant on the central nervous system. There’s a host of negative effects that occur disrupting the body’s hormones, brain chemistry and metabolism. Depending on a persons’ body size, bodyweight, body fat percentage, gender and daily alcohol intake determine their ability to metabolize alcohol and in turn the effects on health. The larger, the more muscular and leaner the person, results in a lower blood-alcohol level due to alcohol concentrating more into lean muscle tissue versus fatty tissues. The enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase breaks down alcohol and is four times more active in men than women. This means more unmetabolized alcohol is released into the bloodstream in women than men. Although this means a male may consume more alcohol with less of an effect, the excess “empty” calories and carbohydrates will degrade lean muscle and promote fat storage.

Hormones

Alcoholic beverages can contain up to 30-40 grams or more of carbohydrates and 14-17 grams of alcohol. The sugar content in beer, wine and spirits all vary depending on the fermentation process and the ingredients used. They all have in common a high glycemic index, the rate at which a food increases blood sugar in comparison to table sugar. This means all alcohol intake spike normal insulin levels, the fat storing hormone responsible for allowing sugars into a cell for energy production. Excess sugars circulating in the body are converted and stored into fat cells in the midsection. We all know alcohol affect hydration levels thus resulting in headaches, nausea, muscle cramps, mood disorders, fatigue, confusion and dizziness. Also known as hangovers, a person is generally more inflamed systemically creating elevated stress hormone levels such as cortisol. Testosterone and cortisol are opposite; if cortisol is high, testosterone is low. Elevated cortisol is the main culprit of causing muscle tissue wasting, fat gain, lower sex drive, low testosterone and poor recovery from exercise.

Neurotransmitters

Once in the bloodstream, alcohol produces feelings of intoxication. The rate of absorption into the bloodstream is increased through carbonation such as in beer and sparkling wines. Nonetheless, alcohol directly affects our brain chemistry during and after consumption. GABA is the neurotransmitter responsible for calming and relaxing our brain and causes us to become more social. Since GABA is elevated during drinking, the opposite chemical messenger glutamate lowers. Just like a seesaw, what goes up must come down. GABA becomes depleted from repeated alcohol intake and in turn chronically elevating glutamate.for the daily drinker. For the daily drinker high glutamate levels cause symptoms of agitation. This is why to achieve the same psychological effect, a persons’ consumption increases with frequent use. Alcohol impairs our thinking centers in the brain decreasing our decision making. This makes it difficult to focus and promotes impulsive action. Regarding nutritional choices, chances of eating foods that are not in favour of a healthy waistline are much higher and likely contain foods high carbohydrates and fats.

drinking habits affecting your results - migraine

Metabolism

Once alcohol arrives in the liver it’s broken down and repackaged forcing the liver to work. The liver resembles a recycling factory that repackages sugars and fats circulating around our body. Alcohol interferes with normal processes of the liver creating hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Eating foods or consuming more alcohol restores blood sugar to an elevated level. This is the reason we have an urge for carbs and fats only after a few drinks. Foods like pizza, potato chips, burritos, burgers, and fries containing high amounts of carbohydrates and fats are the common foods enjoyed after a night out. Alcohol affects the alkalinity of our body impeding the its’ natural ability to switch into fat loss mode. Alcohol lowers the pH of the body making it more acidic. Being in an acidic state recovery and rebuilding of muscle tissue is drastically reduced and keeps the body in a systemically inflamed state. Symptoms of chronic inflammation from alcohol use may appear on major organs including skin as redness on the face and on the cheeks and under the eyes.

Markus Rosenberg

Markus Rosenberg

Owner and Trainer at Fit Culture
Markus Rosenberg received his degree in Kinesiology and Health Sciences from York University. He is the founder of Fit Culture Inc., a boutique style personal training studio, which specializes in full service personal training, nutrition and supplement programs working with clients in Concord, Thornhill, Vaughan and North York/Toronto.
Markus Rosenberg

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