Does Alcohol Cause Weight Gain?
When you drink alcohol, particularly large amounts or excessively, it can affect so many parts of your body and your life.
An area of concern that people frequently wonder about is alcohol and weight gain. Does alcohol cause weight gain, or is this a myth?
Below is more information about how alcohol can affect you, and more specifically what to know about alcohol and weight gain.
A lot of people aren’t even aware that drinking in moderation refers to no more than one drink a day if you’re a woman and no more than two a day for men. If you’re drinking more than this, it could be considered problematic, and if you’re drinking more than five drinks a day as a man or four as a woman, you are considered a binge drinker.
The immediate effects of alcohol can include impaired coordination and judgment, memory problems, and slow reflexes. Even if you just have a single drink these things can occur, and the more you drink, the more profound and apparent these symptoms can become.
When you drink, a significant portion of the alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream, and then it is distributed through basically every tissue of your body.
A few things alcohol does to your body include:
- When you drink, it affects your brain significantly, including altering levels of GABA and dopamine which are neurotransmitters that are part of the brain’s reward system. If you have too much of either of these neurotransmitters, it can lead to everything from increased heart rate, to aggression and depression.
- Your liver is one of the parts of your body that is most significantly impacted by drinking. Your liver is where alcohol is processed and metabolized, and when you drink excessively, it causes your liver to accumulate fat, which can lead to a serious condition called fatty liver disease. This can ultimately then lead to cirrhosis.
- Drinking raises estrogen levels, and this has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
- When you drink, it causes your stomach to make an excessive amount of acid, which can contribute to a variety of conditions like irritation and inflammation of the stomach lining.
These aren’t even all the ways alcohol can affect your body—there are many more.
So, what about alcohol and weight gain? Does alcohol cause weight gain?
There are quite a few reasons alcohol and weight gain are linked, some of which are direct and others are indirect.
First, alcohol can cause weight gain simply because it has calories. Not only does the actual alcohol have calories, but additives and mixers that are included with many alcoholic beverages can be packed with calories as well as sugar. The calories that come from alcohol are considered empty, meaning they can pack on the pounds, but they have no nutritional value.
If you have too much alcohol, it can also turn into fat in your liver, which then turns into fat in your blood and is likely to be stored as fat in your body.
Research shows that people who are heavy drinkers, which is classified as having at least four drinks a day if you’re a woman, have a 41 percent higher chance of going from a healthy BMI to one that’s considered overweight, as compared to people who aren’t heavy drinkers. For people who are already obese, research shows they have a 35 percent higher chance of staying that way and gaining more weight if they’re a heavy drinker.
As was mentioned above, when it comes to alcohol and weight gain, there is an indirect way that alcohol can make you gain weight. It’s an appetite stimulant, so you may be more likely to eat more and also make poorer food choices if you’re drinking. Not only are you likely to feel hungrier if you’re drinking excessively, but your inhibitions will be lowered, so you’re not going to be thinking about choosing healthy foods.
Finally, another way alcohol and weight gain are linked is because alcohol suppresses the central nervous system which ultimately just slows all the functions of your body down.
Weight gain is just one of the many health considerations to keep in mind when it comes to your use of alcohol and limiting how much you drink.
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