We tend to consume more alcohol during the holidays, which leads people to believe that it contributes to weight gain. But this is what science has to say about that.
It’s no secret that most of us get a bit anxious about weight gain during the holidays. This is absolutely normal, considering the fact that from late October until early January, we tend to eat more not only in terms of quantity (which, let’s face it, can be a lot), but also what we’re eating: sugar, fat, carbs, and of course, tons and tons of alcohol. If I took a shot every time someone blamed alcohol for their weight gain, I’d probably fall in an alcoholic coma. So, will cutting down booze really keep you from gaining weight or not?
Let’s start by understanding how alcohol works in our body, especially our digestive system, and how we process calories. When we drink, alcohol is metabolized and stored as fat faster than any protein and fat itself. This is because alcohol is quickly absorbed; actually, it’s estimated that 20% of its components are immediately absorbed through the stomach and transported to the bloodstream. Now, since the body immediately starts metabolizing and storing alcohol as fat, all the calories you’ve consumed that haven’t been processed are stored in your body since it no longer needs those foods’ energy to function. In other words, since the system is already processing and burning the fat alcohol provides, it will tend to ignore all the fat you previously consumed during the day.
The thing here, and in general, is to know how to balance our intake of food and alcohol. In fact, cutting out alcohol entirely might not even prevent you from gaining extra weight because what and how much we eat is pretty much responsible for our weight gain or loss, regardless of other factors. You might exercise like crazy, but if you’re still eating tons of carbs and fat, you probably won’t get the results you were looking for.
Now, that doesn’t mean that you can go and drink all the booze in the world during the holidays without seeing an impact on your weight. It’s a well-known fact that alcohol can inhibit reason, so, as you probably know already, our decisions about food and what we eat when we’re drunk can leave much to be desired. It’s estimated that we eat 30% more when we’re drunk. Raise your hands if you always eat tons of fattening and highly-caloric foods when you’re drunk. Thought so. Now, try to remember if you’re actually hungry when you eat all of this? Probably not.
It’s all about balance. I mean, you don’t have to get wasted at all your holiday parties, or eat as though there were no tomorrow. It’s been proven that moderate drinking has no effect on our metabolism at all; it’s only problematic when your alcohol intake is frequent and high. If you think about it, then, weight gain should be the least of your worries if this level of alcohol consumption is a daily habit for you.
Of course, genetics are also a huge factor that affects your metabolism and can make you more prone to gain weight, so that would also be something to consider. All in all, this isn’t a yes-or-no question, since all bodies are different and react differently to alcohol and food. The most advisable thing, as usual, is to know how to control ourselves and not get blackout drunk at every single party you attend. That, and to eat a balanced diet, which should be an everyday thing and not only during the holidays. Life should be enjoyed, and depriving ourselves shouldn’t be the way, so just monitor your intake, and you’ll be fine.
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