Jamie Foxx’s song “Blame it” encourages blaming alcohol for all ruined relationships, unsafe situations, and perceived enhancement of other’s attractiveness. Outside of the many issues and poor decisions can that can result from a night of boozing, including a high credit card bill, higher risk for accidents, and even a 2am Taco Bell run…there are more. During Covid-19, some are hitting the wine and beer harder.
Let’s review the basics: alcohol interferes with communication between nerve cells and all other cells in the body. Moderation (the amount considered to not contribute to any major health concerns) for the average woman is defined by the CDC as not more than one drink per day and for the average man as not having more than two.
A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics asserts, “there has been an increase in the proportion of US adults who drink on any given day and an increase in calories consumed from alcoholic beverages when drinking occurs.”
What effect is this having on us from a weight loss perspective? Or a liver-health one?
Now we appreciate the humor some of you bring to our appointments:
“I think I’m drinking enough water. There’s water in beer, right?”
“I’m not too concerned. It’s called a liver, not a die-er”
“Wine-o? Maybe; I prefer ‘wine-yes'”
With alcoholic beverages being among the top five contributors to total caloric intake among US adults, this is something we need to talk about. But beyond calories, here are more reasons to explore your relationship with alcohol:
- It’s a source of calories that provides little to zero nutrition; in fact, it can cause malnutrition.
- Chronic usage can cause the depletion of many vitamins and minerals, including folate (vitamin B9) whose deficiency has been linked to higher levels of homocysteine in the blood (higher homocysteine levels have been linked to cardiovascular disease).
- Alcohol can adversely affect overall diet quality. Not only because of drinking calories versus eating them, but for both men and women, increasing alcoholic beverage consumption was associated with a decline in total diet quality
- As mentioned above, drinking alcohol is associated eating a less healthy diet, which can lead to increased calorie intake and body weight.
- Decreased energy levels? Blame it on the a-a-alcohol. Here’s why: when alcohol is broken down by the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase, a by-product is NADH. An elevation of this in the system ends up reducing the coenzyme that is needed in the production of ATP (energy). The result is a lack of energy and endurance. One client recently found this to be true after a few weeks of examining why her Saturday morning runs felt like an uphill slog after a night of a few drinks.
- Because alcohol depresses the central nervous system, it can exacerbate anxiety and depression.
- Alcohol irritates the lining of the stomach and intestines; it can increase stomach acid production (possibly leading to heartburn).
- Your adult beverages may very well contain the weed-killer glyphosate.
- Decreased blood flow to muscles causes muscle aches (which can feature in the following day’s hangover).
- Between dehydrating your skin and a poor night’s sleep, alcohol can increase the appearance of under-eye bags or circles.
- Alcohol can disrupt the quantity and quality of your sleep. In fact, it blocks the restorative REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
- Further chronic issues and conditions related to alcohol
This reminds us of an interaction with a client a couple of years ago. As a vegan, she was including salads and more vegetables in her diet, but along with frequent vegan treats in the food diary there were mixed drinks sprinkled into her week. The latter contributed to her added sugar intake and caused her to indulge in some late-night snacking, usually crunchy pretzels and/or half a bag of vegan cookies.
Another client expressed feeling frustrated and dismayed over her progress. Despite intense workouts at Orange Theory Fitness and cutting down on portions of food, she wasn’t losing weight. She estimated that she had ‘only’ one or two drinks per day. Guess what? After tracking in the food diary, we added up 22 drinks over the course of a week! Do you think that has any bearing on the other foods she ate? It sure did. There were more indulgences with nachos, fast food, and sweets. Once she cut back significantly on the alcohol, she saw the results of her workouts in her body composition and weight.
To give some hope to those entering menopause or are post-menopausal, you can lose some weight and belly fat. During our initial nutrition & wellness consultation with a lovely client in her late 60s, she reported eating pretty cleanly but drinking 2-3 alcoholic beverages about 3-4 times per week. Since working together to examine her feeling leading to drinking and strategizing solutions, she has lost 8lbs and can fit into jeans that were previously constricting. Her sleep has improved and she feels much better and attributes this to her improved habits.
The lesson is this: it’s time to explore what the role alcohol plays in our lives and what it is doing to us. Sometimes our alcohol consumption has negative results that we can’t just stuff right back into the bottle. After the initial euphoria and excitement felt while drinking, we may be left with rather ‘sobering’ results (pun intended): a beer belly, loss of productivity with work, regret, having caused an accident, a damaged liver, and/or destroyed relationships.
Does this mean one should never drink alcohol again? Not necessarily. Some like to identify themselves as ‘sober curious’ – being more mindful about alcohol consumption and cutting back. For many, this can be easier to achieve than absolute sobriety.
Take time to reflect on the possibilities of your life if you examined, and took action, in reducing added sugar, coffee, or your relationship with alcohol. What is the substance doing for you or to you? Do you love it or or feel like you need it? Does it seem to help you manage your stress and emotions or numb your anxiety in social situations? The first step to any change is curious awareness.
The second step involves bravery and vulnerability: connect with a trusted professional for coaching and obtain your desired results. Ready to reach out? Schedule your complimentary 20-minute discovery and strategy call today.