Let's talk seriously about alcohol and your metabolism.
No jokes about needing a glass of wine to take the edge off of a stressful week.
I'm giving you this information so that you can truly decide when you are going to drink and when you are not.
Continue reading to find out the effects of alcohol on your body and my recommendations for you moving forward!
First, let's discuss how alcohol is digested in your body:
Your body breaks down alcohol through an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase. This enzyme breaks apart one molecule of ethanol (the alcohol you drink) at a time. Think of alcohol dehydrogenase as a one-lane tunnel during rush hour. You can only fit one car through at a time; this same principle applies to the break down of ethanol (or alcohol). If you consume more alcohol, you simply add more traffic to this tunnel. Alcohol dehydrogenase is unable to speed up its process.
How long does it take to metabolize my drink?
For example, let's say you allowed your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) to increase to above the legal driving limit (0.08). Depending on your height, weight and gender, this could be a different amount of alcohol. Most people exceed 0.08 BAC after 1-2 drinks per hour (I put a BAC calculator below if you want to know your numbers exactly). Because every person, regardless of their height, weight or gender, metabolizes alcohol at the same rate, we can determine precisely how long it will take someone to remove all the alcohol inside of their body. Returning to the example of 0.08 BAC, it will take this person 7 hours to remove the alcohol from their system. If you consume more alcohol, it will take more time to remove it.
BAC Calculator: http://www.drinkfox.com/tools/bac-calculator
What effects does the metabolism of alcohol have on my body?
The final product of the metabolism of alcohol is acetate. Your body sees this as a toxin and prioritizes the removal of this compound. A surplus of acetate has been shown to put the brakes on fat loss. While your body is removing this toxin, there will be a significant drop in your whole body lipid oxidization (basically, your ability to burn fat). This drop could be as high as 73%.
Going back to the example of 0.08 BAC, over the course of seven hours, your metabolism will try to get rid of the alcohol and acetate first. It will leave the fat burning to another time.
Don't forget that every drink has useless calories. Foods are full of carbs, proteins or fats that help fuel your movement. Alcohol is empty, extra calories.
Many times when we get a drink, our next order isn't a spinach salad. Bring on the pizza and tacos, am I right?! Think about the food choices that revolve around your drink choices as well. Lowered inhibitions don't choose protein smoothies.
So I guess I'm never drinking again?
Ideally, yes. But is that actually going to happen? Probably not. I require that my Body Fat Burn clients stick to 3 drinks per week. Because alcohol metabolism is a one way tunnel during rush hour, it doesn't matter whether you get them all in one sitting or over the course of a few days. Alcohol is alcohol and you can only digest one molecule at a time.
How do I drink less?
My biggest recommendation is cut out the random drinks you could get in a week. You don't have to get a single glass of wine at a restaurant. You don't have to consume more than one beer at a brewery. If you've got real friends around you, they won't pressure you into drinking but instead respect your choice to put your body first. I know this last one sounds difficult but I can't tell you how many people that I've worked with who have positively influenced their friend group by saying no to a cocktail.
Keep in mind all of this information and advice is for those who really want to see a change in their body. It's ok to say screw it and drink when you feel it is necessary. But do so knowing that it's going to severely alter your results. I don't expect that anyone is going to completely stop drinking. That's why I allow my clients to still have a drink when they truly need it.
View a cocktail like you do a dessert; you aren't eating a piece of cake each night and an entire pie on the weekend. Save the drink for when you truly need it!
Thanks for reading!