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The Yin and Yang of Alcohol

I had a love-hate relationship with alcohol. 

The feeling of getting beautifully crafted ales or a bottle of Cabernet Merlot down was a reward for a week’s work or a reason to catch up with friends. For many summers, it oozed me into relaxation mode, it brought people together, and it made me forget the troubles of the day.

While another round hit the table, the thought of what it did inside my body never crossed my mind. Just like most of us, living in the moment among friends and family with a glass full in one hand and food in the other is all that matters. The talks became more ‘loose” and navigating the regular ups-and-downs to the toilet became harder and harder after every trip. A few glasses, fine. More than a few glasses, we all can talk about the after-effects, the morning-afters, and the food cravings.

Alcohol is a macronutrient.

It falls under the same group as carbohydrates, dietary fats and protein. It provides energy in the form of calories. However, the processes to get it churned into something suitable for the body to use goes a bit different. The body sees alcohol as a poison, a drug. The liver has to work twice as hard to turn the content into something harmless. Processing alcohol shuts temporarily down other parts of its digestive system to solely work its way through your alcoholic intake. Not an effective macronutrient, as it pushes back the fat storage as a constant flow of energy to burn.

Additionally, sleep issues, lower testosterone levels, dehydration, high blood pressure, mood swings, and losing focus are some of the other side effects. A few glasses may not make the difference at first, but it all works on a continuum. One per cent more here and there, and an accumulation of damaging effects emerges. The body itself makes some alcohol itself through GI Tract fermentation yet is in general negligible. 

We consume liquid calories easier than calories through food. These calories do not satisfy our hunger but work on our thirst. A pint of beer can easily contain 150 calories, a glass of wine 100-125 calories, and cocktails score even higher on the glycemic index.

Counting your caloric intake when you are on a weight loss journey, and the results may be surprising. An expanding belly, a lower sex drive, fatty liver, bad sleep, and habitual binge eating – all scientifically proven results when even a few drinks here and there are consumed regularly.

In the above cases, I describe when alcoholic intakes are in average above an individual’s tolerance level. Each person has its limits, and many of us may be able to control this. But the correlation between alcohol and weight loss, and the effects it has on our body, affects the journey to thrive.

One thing I have learned is that taking up alcohol intake with clients during their weight loss journey is a highly sensitive topic.

I totally get that.

This is perfectly fine and understandable.

I can relate to it like no other going through the process myself. As earlier described, nothing can work as positively as having a glass after a day’s work. And this, too, is as important as choosing whole, less processed foods and lots of veggies for your next meal.

Here lies the Yin and Yang when taking up alcohol and the deep health correlation. Alcohol may an an inhibitor when on a weight loss journey when not seeing the effects you aim for.

But when your belly is bulging, the buttons on your trousers are tight, and eating well is under control, there may be a need to check in with you about your alcoholic intake.

Drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable | G.K. Chesterton

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