By Kate Richlin-Zack
I spent this past weekend in Las Vegas doing the ultimate Lazy Girl vacation activity — lounging by the pool sipping frozen drinks. I know, it’s a rough life. It was a much needed vacation and I love taking some time away from the daily grind to relax, but I’m fairly certain I’m going to regret all those frosty adult beverages when I step on the scale tomorrow morning. After a few days of poolside pina coladas, I was curious as to just how much damage I was doing to my body … so I did a little research. Most experts would agree alcohol in moderation is ok. Even a 4 oz glass of wine with dinner on a daily basis can have some health benefits. But after doing some research, a hangover isn’t the only reason to avoid alcohol. There are lots of other ways it messes with your metabolism and can quickly derail your weight loss efforts.
Here’s what I found out:
High in calories, low in nutrition
One of my favorite frozen drinks is the Miami Vice: half pina colada, half strawberry daiquiri. Whoever came up with this combination is a genius because it’s absolutely delicious. The problem is it’s loaded with calories and sugar and with the exception of the pineapple garnish sitting comfortably on the rim of my inappropriately large glass, it contains no nutritional value. To put it in perspective, a 4 oz Cosmopolitan has around 200 calories. Clearly, I was not doing my chubby knee caps a favor this weekend because the poolside bar uses 24 oz cups.
Alcohol is a diuretic
What the heck is a diuretic? Diuretics cause water loss and dehydration which is why I have to pee within minutes of having a drink. It also means I wake up the next day swearing I look 5 pounds lighter. I may have lost some water weight (don’t worry I made up for it in fat retention – see the next two items below) but I also lost the vitamins and minerals that help maintain fluid balance, regulate metabolic reactions, and control muscle contraction/relaxation. Ya know, the requirements for good health.
Alcohol is prioritized over food
I figured everything you put in your body is processed on a FIFO (first in first out) basis, meaning whatever you consume first gets metabolized first. Apparently not. Your body views alcohol as a toxin and will try to get rid of it immediately by prioritizing alcohol metabolism over food metabolism. Your body will focus on ridding itself of the wine and can’t properly break down the bowl of penne vodka you just had for dinner. That means all those calories from food will be converted to body fat. Diet fail.
Alcohol slows fat metabolism
Not only is the alcohol causing your body to store all the calories you consumed as body fat, it’s also preventing your body from breaking down any existing body fat and — according to the basic laws of mathematics — the more you drink, the more fat you’re accumulating. You may have lost water weight initially but once you rehydrate, you’ll notice you probably look a little puffier than you did prior to your evening of partying like a 19-year-old frat boy.
Alcohol is both a stimulant and depressant
Depending on whether you’re getting drunk or sobering up, alcohol can either act as a stimulant or depressant. As your blood alcohol increases, you’ll feel happy, relaxed, and much more extroverted than usual. This is why you end up dancing on tables after a few tequila shots. As your blood alcohol starts to drop, you’ll feel sleepy, confused, and depressed. This is why you end up crying and/or passing out on the table upon which you were dancing earlier.
As much as I hate to ruin your party, if you’re trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle or if you’re trying to lose weight, alcohol can ruin things pretty quickly. For me, even the occasional drink isn’t worth it. Even if I’m not hungover, I’m emotional and paranoid the day after having a few drinks. I want to cry about everything and I swear I can feel the chub accumulating on my thighs. Then again, I’m a raving lunatic to begin with so it’s probably not the alcohol.
I also have a hard time controlling food cravings after a drink or two, so even if the alcohol itself isn’t doing much damage, the irresistible bacon cheeseburgers smothered in ranch dressing and BBQ sauce (don’t judge) are probably not helping my cause. So to all my fellow Lazy Girls out there, drink responsibly.
“The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Health and Fitness” is written by the irrepressible Kate Richlin-Zack and runs every other Tues at 10:30AM on Kate-book.com. She is a former plus-sized model turned fitness enthusiast who lost about 50lbs in the process. She loves food and views exercise as a necessary evil in her quest for looking good and feeling confident in hot pants. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.