The Negatives of Alcohol

Yeah yeah, we’re the fun police, we get it. Take it or leave it, but at the end of the day, alcohol is a toxin. Here are three major reasons why alcohol is not your friend.

Increased energy intake

Pure alcohol is energy dense, containing 29 kilojoules per gram – almost equalling fat which contains 37 kilojoules per gram. Alcohols kilojoules are known as ‘empty kilojoules’ as they fail to provide nutrients that our body requires to perform important physiological functions. These kilojoules tend to stack up quickly because they are consumed in liquid form – liquid kilojoules don't elicit the same feeling or level of satiety as kilojoules from food. Because our hunger is not suppressed by alcohol we don’t compensate by reducing our food intake and our overall energy intake can increase significantly.

Altered brain chemistry

When we consume alcohol, our brain responds by releasing the feel-good chemical dopamine into our brains reward centre. The brain typically uses dopamine to reinforce healthy behaviours, however, alcohol triggers the release of very high amounts of dopamine. Excessive levels of dopamine block the expression of our negative emotions such as anxiety, fear, stress or insecurity and as a result, we feel relaxed and uninhibited. Because our inhibitions are lower, assessing our appetite and restraining from unhealthy food choices isn’t a priority. This is why after a drink (or six) you feel more comfortable reaching for a handful of chips or saying yes to that 2am dirty kebab. Far more comfortable than you did before drinking.

Increased appetite

To make matters worse, alcohol is an excellent appetite stimulant. The body reacts to ethanol as a poison, prioritising its breakdown and removal over the metabolism of carbohydrate and fat. Breaking down alcohol is a demanding task that requires the full attention of the liver. This means that the liver ceases to perform other important jobs such as the release of glucose to maintain our blood glucose levels. Eventually, our blood glucose levels dip and we become hypoglycaemic (low blood glucose levels) – triggering intense feelings of hunger.

The combination of alcohols high energy content with its un-inhibiting and appetite-stimulating effects often lead to weight gain in the short and long-term. Reducing your alcohol intake is a small but realistic change which, when combined with healthy eating and regular exercise, will promote weight loss.

Our advice…

Drink in moderation and enjoy a glass of wine or a beer with friends in a social setting. If you drink every night sitting at home, perhaps explore why you reach for alcohol at the end of the day. Our Healthy Lifestyle Challenge will help you learn what habits you’ve trained yourself to have in this space.

Why Alcohol is the Hand Break on Your Weight Loss Goals

No-one likes a hand brake. 

Yet consuming even moderate amounts of alcohol has detrimental effects on weight loss. The biggest problem with alcohol is not simply its energy density, it’s also how alcohol effects our body’s metabolic processes. Most importantly, its capacity to metabolise fat.

The reason why alcohol impacts our metabolism is linked to the way in which ethanol is processed. Ethanol is a toxic molecule and our body doesn’t have a storage place for it. Unlike fat, which is deposited into fat cells or carbohydrates which are stored as glycogen in our muscles and liver. Essentially the body has no choice but to prioritise the breakdown and removal of alcohol over all other macronutrients.

The major processing site for alcohol in the body is the liver. Up to 98% of alcohol consumed is transported to the liver where the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase converts alcohol to acetaldehyde. This molecule is then transformed into acetate, producing a sudden increase in blood acetate levels.

The body prefers to burn acetate over fat because it is more efficient. Acetate is a very readily available fuel source so the body doesn't have to do much metabolic work to use it. Our body suppresses fat oxidation (fat burning), sometimes by up to 73% (!), until the acetate is burned off. This means that for the subsequent hours after drinking, your body is in unable to utilise fat stores and any plans you had for fat loss come to a grinding halt.

But wait, there is more bad news…

When we drink heavily for an extended period of time, our body recognises alcohol as a consistent energy source and adapts to use it more efficiently. The body activates a system known as the ‘microsomal ethanol-oxidising system’ in order to redistribute and remove excess alcohol and promote body fat storage. The most common site of fat storage is around your mid-section (hence why lovers of alcohol usually sport a "beer gut").

If you’re a part of our Healthy Lifestyle Challenge, these are just a couple of good reasons why alcohol intake scores so poorly. While for some it may be hard to avoid, it wouldn’t be called a ‘challenge’ if it wasn’t challenging, right? We only have your health at heart. Plus it’s only 30 days out of your whole life – you’ll thank us for it later. 

 

 

Pour me a Standard Drink

Although they sound the same, one drink doesn’t always equal one standard drink....

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Why?

An alcoholic drink is not pure alcohol – it is a solution which contains varying amounts of ethanol (pure alcohol) and other ingredients. Some alcoholic drinks are stronger than others because they contain a greater amount of pure alcohol (ethanol) in the same volume. The higher the concentration of ethanol in the drink, the stronger the drink and the more standard drinks it will contain.

For example, mid-strength beer is 3.5% alcohol while spirits are approximately 40% alcohol.

What is a standard drink?

A standard (STD) drink is a unit measure of the amount of pure alcohol (ethanol) in your drink.

In Australia, 1.0 STD drink = 10g Ethanol

Below are some examples of typical drinks and how many standard drinks each contains:

For more information on alcohol and standard drink serves, visit www.alcohol.gov.au and  d  ownload the standard drinks chart   HERE

For more information on alcohol and standard drink serves,
visit www.alcohol.gov.au and download the standard drinks chart HERE

To further complicate matters, no matter where you go alcohol is served in different glasses, jars, bottles and jugs. Next time you’re out, take note of the size of the glass your drink is served in – don’t assume that a glass holds one standard drink. A standard restaurant pour of wine is in fact 150ml, while 1.0 standard drink of wine is 100ml.

When keeping track of alcohol intake it is more reliable to count the number of standard drinks you have had, than the number of glasses.

If you're a part of our Healthy Lifestyle Challenge...

You lose points for each alcoholic drink you consume. Deduct -10 points for each 1.0 Standard drink you consume. So if you had 150ml of wine, that's 1.5 standard drinks and means -15 points. ouch!

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