It’s no secret that alcohol has its own set of health risks, but does alcohol make you gain weight? In this article, we’ll take a look at the research studies conducted on this topic to find out if there is any truth to it. Read on to learn more about what the experts have to say!
What is alcohol?
According to the World Health Organization, alcohol is a psychoactive substance that has a depressant effect on the central nervous system. It is typically consumed in liquid form and is made by fermentation of sugars or starches. Alcohol is found in a wide variety of drinks, including beer, wine, and spirits.
It is a known fact that alcohol consumption can lead to liver damage, cancer, and other chronic illnesses. In addition, alcohol abuse can cause social problems such as violence, crime, and family instability.
How Does Alcohol Make You Gain Weight?
1. It stops your body from burning fat.
When you drink alcohol, your body breaks down the ethanol into acetate, which it uses for body energy instead of stored fat. This means that while you may feel like you’re burning off calories by drinking, you’re actually just preventing your body from burning its own stored fat.
2. Increases insulin
Alcohol is metabolized by the liver and turned into sugar. This sugar is then released into the bloodstream, raising blood sugar levels.
The body responds to this by releasing insulin, which helps to lower blood sugar levels. However, insulin also promotes fat storage, so over time, regular consumption of alcohol can lead to weight gain.
3. Alcohol promotes bad food choices
When you drink alcohol, it lowers your inhibitions and judgment. This can lead you to make poor decisions regarding food and nutrition. For example, you may indulge in high-calorie foods that you wouldn’t normally eat or simply eat more than you would sober.
4. Increases appetite
Alcohol decreases the body’s ability to produce leptin, a hormone that regulates appetite. Additionally, alcohol consumption increases the number of calories the body absorbs from food. Therefore, while alcohol may not directly increase appetite, it can certainly lead to weight gain by causing the body to absorb more calories than it would otherwise.
5. Increases the stress hormone Cortisol
Cortisol is a hormone that’s released in response to stress. It helps you manage stress by increasing blood sugar levels and suppressing non-essential functions like digestion.
In small doses, cortisol is beneficial. But when cortisol levels are constantly high, it can lead to weight gain. This is because cortisol promotes fat storage. That’s why some people report gaining weight after a period of constant stress.
6. Disrupts sleep
When you drink alcohol, it interferes with your body’s natural sleep cycle. This can cause you to wake up frequently throughout the night, which makes it difficult to get a restful night’s sleep.
These sleep disruptions can lead to weight gain in several ways.
First, sleep disruptions lead to increased hormone ghrelin levels, which increases hunger and cravings for high-calorie foods.
Second, when we don’t get enough quality sleep, our bodies produce more stress hormone cortisol, which can increase appetite and promote fat storage.
Finally, getting less than seven hours of sleep per night has been linked with higher body mass indexes (BMIs).
Other Damaging Effects Of Alcohol On Your Body And Mind
The long-term effects of alcohol on the body are manifold. They range from organ damage and cognitive problems to increased cancer risk.
- Liver damage
Liver damage is one of the most common health problems caused by alcohol abuse.
The liver is responsible for filtering toxins out of the blood. When alcohol is present in the blood, the liver must work overtime to filter it out. Over time, this can lead to liver damage.
When the liver is damaged, toxins can build up and cause serious health problems.
Alcohol abuse can cause fatty liver disease, which is fat accumulation in the liver. This can lead to inflammation and scarring of the liver and eventually to Liver cirrhosis, which is a potentially fatal condition.
- Nutritional deficiencies
It’s no secret that alcohol consumption can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it causes your body to lose fluids and electrolytes, including sodium, potassium, and magnesium. This can lead to dehydration, which can, in turn, cause headaches, fatigue, and dizziness.
Alcohol also inhibits the absorption of many vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B12, folic acid, and zinc. This can lead to various problems, including anemia, nerve damage, and poor immune function.
- Neurological and Mental Health Effects
Alcohol consumption can have a negative impact on the brain and affect its structure and function. Studies have shown that alcohol can cause shrinkage of the frontal lobe, which is responsible for executive functioning, planning, and judgment. This can lead to impaired brain function and memory loss.
Additionally, alcohol consumption can decrease cognitive function, which can impact an individual’s ability to think clearly and make decisions.
Additionally, alcohol can exacerbate anxiety and depression. This is because alcohol is a depressant, and so it can increase feelings of sadness and anxiety.
For people who already suffer from anxiety or depression, drinking alcohol can make these conditions worse. In some cases, alcohol abuse can even lead to psychosis, characterized by hallucinations and paranoia.
- Slurred Speech & Impaired Judgment
Slurred speech and impaired judgment are common effects of alcohol intoxication.
While these effects may seem harmless, they can lead to dangerous situations.
Slurred speech can make it difficult to communicate with others and stay safe in potentially dangerous situations.
Impaired judgment can lead people to make poor decisions, such as driving while intoxicated or engaging in risky behaviors.
Both of these effects can result in serious injury or even death.
- Decreased Coordination & Balance Issues
When you drink alcohol, it quickly enters your bloodstream and begins to affect your central nervous system. This can lead to a decrease in coordination and balance, which makes it difficult to perform tasks.
Alcohol also interferes with the communication between your brain and your muscles, which can make it hard to walk or even stand up. This can increase your risk of falls and other accidents. That’s why you’re more likely to trip and fall or hurt yourself in other ways when you’re intoxicated.
- Gastrointestinal discomfort
Alcohol can cause Gastrointestinal discomfort because it irritates the lining of the stomach and intestines. This can lead to abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. In severe cases, it can also lead to bleeding and ulcers. If you experience any of these symptoms after drinking alcohol, it’s best to seek medical attention.
Chronic gastrointestinal discomfort can also be a symptom of other medical conditions such as celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and gastritis. So if you have persistent gastrointestinal issues, it is important to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis.
Risky Behavior and Accidents
Risky behavior and accidents are common occurrences when under the influence of alcohol.
This is because alcohol impairs your judgment and coordination, making it more difficult to control your movements and react to your surroundings.
As a result, you are more likely to take risks that you wouldn’t otherwise, such as driving drunk or engaging in unprotected sex. Not only can this lead to serious injuries or death, but it can also land you in legal trouble.
Tips to stop drinking alcohol
When it comes to quitting drinking alcohol, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, some general tips can help you on your journey to sobriety.
1. Make a commitment to yourself
Making a commitment to yourself is one of the most important things you can do if you want to stop drinking alcohol.
It means that you are willing to put in the hard work and make the necessary changes in your life to achieve your goal.
It can be difficult to stick to a commitment, especially if you have been drinking alcohol for a long time. But it is important to remember that you are doing this for yourself and no one else. You deserve to live a happy and healthy life, and making this commitment is the first step towards achieving that.
2. Create a plan
Quitting drinking is much easier if you have a plan in place. This could involve setting specific days or times when you will not drink, avoiding trigger situations, and having alternative activities planned for times when you’re tempted to drink (such as going for a walk or attending a sober social event).
3. Get rid of all your alcohol-related paraphernalia
If you’re trying to stop drinking alcohol, it’s important to get rid of all your alcohol-related paraphernalia. This includes things like bottles, glasses, and other drinking vessels.
It may also include things like bottle openers, corkscrews, and other items that are associated with drinking.
You may have sentimental value attached to them. Or you may be worried about what other people will think if they see them in your home. But it’s important to remember that keeping these items around is only going to make it harder for you to stay sober.
4. Seek out social support
It can be difficult to stop drinking alcohol on your own, which is why seeking out social support is an important step in the process. There are a variety of ways to find social support, such as attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, joining a support group or therapy program, or talking to friends and family members who are also trying to quit drinking.
Whatever method you choose, make sure that you surround yourself with people who will understand and support your decision to stop drinking.
5. Develop healthy coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety
For many people, drinking alcohol is a way to cope with stress and anxiety. But this coping mechanism can worsen your anxiety in the long run.
That’s why it’s important to develop healthy coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety that don’t involve alcohol. You can exercise, get enough sleep, journal your thoughts, make time for relaxation and hobbies, and eat a healthy diet.
6. Set realistic goals
Trying to cut back on your drinking all at once may not be realistic or sustainable in the long term. In fact, if you try to stop cold turkey, you’re more likely to experience withdrawal symptoms and relapse.
Instead, slowly reduce the amount of alcohol you drink over a period of time. This will give your body time to adjust and make it easier to stick to your goals.
7. Find alternative activities
There are many things you can do instead of drinking alcohol. Some people choose to drink non-alcoholic beverages, such as water, soda, or juice. Others may engage in different activities, such as going for a walk, reading a book, or playing a sport.
If you’re struggling to give up alcohol, finding alternative activities to help occupy your time may be helpful.
This can help you avoid situations where you’re tempted to drink and give you something else to focus on. It’s important to find activities that you enjoy and that make you feel good so that you’re more likely to stick with them.
Alternatives Drinks to Alcohol
There are many alternative non-alcoholic drinks to take, such as:
Water: This is the most obvious choice, and it’s essential to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, and try to avoid sugary or caffeinated beverages.
Fruit juice: A glass of 100% fruit juice counts as one of your daily recommended servings of fruit. Choose juices with no added sugar for the healthiest option.
Vegetable juice: Just like fruit juice, vegetable juice counts as one of your daily recommended servings of vegetables. Again, choose a version with no added sugar for the healthiest option.
Herbal tea: Herbal teas are a great way to get in some extra fluids and can also be very relaxing. Chamomile tea, for example, is perfect for helping you wind down at night.
Milk: A glass of milk is a good source of calcium and other nutrients. Opt for low-fat or skim milk to keep calories in check.
Sparkling water: If you’re looking for something a little more exciting than plain old water, try sparkling water. Just be sure to check the label to make sure there are no added sugar or artificial sweeteners.
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Drinking alcohol can contribute to various health issues, including weight gain. This is because alcohol is full of empty calories, and when it is combined with poor dietary choices and lack of physical activity, the result can be significant weight gain.
Quitting drinking may seem daunting, but there are many resources available to help you achieve your goal safely and effectively. With dedication and commitment, the tips above can help you live a healthier lifestyle free from alcohol consumption!
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