Friday, 27 May 2016

Why Alcohol Makes You Fat

Last night I watched a programme on the BBC called The Truth About Alcohol.

(Thanks for the tip SW6Mum)

It was a light hearted look at the effects that alcohol has on the body.

It was a tad trivial, with the usual discussion about 'how to avoid hangovers', and 'why a little red wine is actually good for you.' But, even so, great to have a programme about the negative effects of booze on prime time TV.

Inevitably, they looked at the impact alcohol has on our weight.

Now, we all know that alcohol is full of 'empty calories', and they pointed out that drinking a pint of  beer has the same effect, calorie wise, as eating a jam donut. A glass of wine is like eating a tea cake.

If I ever think about taking up booze again, I imagine sitting in front of the TV and eating five tea cakes in swift succession. Bleurgh!

But that wasn't the interesting bit.

They then took two groups of young men and put each group in a room with 2 pints of beer each, and several bowls of snacks.

What the men didn't know is that whilst one group were drinking 'proper beer', the other group had alcohol free beer (my favourite: Becks Blue. They ought to sponsor me).

After about an hour they totted up the results and discovered that the group with the real beer ate significantly more than the Becks Blue chaps. The booze made them hungrier.

And when you added the booze calories and snack calories together, the boozy lot demolished 30% more calories than the others.

Imagine doing that every night!

And we've all been there, haven't we? Hoovering up the crisps at the drinks party, ordering Death by Chocolate at the restaurant, or raiding the snack cupboard after a big night out.

Plus, what they didn't discuss in the programme is the morning after!

If you wake up with a hangover the last thing in the world you want for breakfast is a green smoothie. Oh no! You want CARBS. And FAT. Preferably combined in something like a bacon sandwich, or a greasy fry up.

It's no wonder I gained 21 pounds in a decade. Frankly, it's a miracle it wasn't more.

But, here's my (familiar to all you regular readers) health warning:

DO NOT EXPECT TO LOSE WEIGHT STRAIGHT AWAY WHEN YOU QUIT.

I know. It's really unfair. You give up all those calories and then..... Nothing. In fact, many people GAIN weight initially.

Do not panic. Our metabolisms are complicated machines, and they take a while to adjust. And you'll probably crave sugar initially. Quitting booze is not easy, and if cake helps then EAT IT.

Most people find that, at around 100 days alcohol free, the weight starts to come off. Slowly slowly. About half a pound a week.

(Plus, even before the scales start moving you'll notice that you look much less puffy and the wine belly starts shrinking).

And here's the magic thing: it stays off! Unlike every other 'diet' I've ever done.

Fourteen months in and I've lost that 21 pounds, without changing the amount I eat all all.

I've stopped losing weight now, but it's not going back on. And I still eat cake.

So, if you weren't already convinced that quitting booze was the right thing to do, then look down at that wine belly and think again..,.

Love SM x

18 comments:

  1. Losing weight was my initial reason for quitting the wine. 110 days later and I'm hardly down anything...4 lbs maybe? BUT...I had shorts that I couldn't even get on last summer and now, I can get them on! They don't look good yet, but it's an improvement!! I also think that being pre-menopausal as opposed to post-menopausal makes a world of difference in weight loss. Being a post-menopausal woman (chemo put me in menopause at 41..) I think it is much much harder to lose weight, no matter what your situation is..I also gained 20 lbs. from drinking. I am a diligent, hard exerciser 4-5 times per week. Yes, my diet could be better, but in no way am I consuming the "wine" calories. I think for us post-menopausal women it is going to take more time! Ugh!

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  2. Sadly I haven't lost any and I'm at 186 days! So unfair 😢 It could have something to do with my addiction to chocolate though!!

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    1. Don't worry, Angie. Once you're really comfortable with the not drinking thing you can gradually cut down on the chocolate, but don't rush it! Baby steps....

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  3. I watched it too. I was a little bit disappointed that there wasn't more about the dangers of alcohol, especially with a programme title of "The truth about alcohol". It was quite lighthearted really. I'm on day 76 now !! Woo hoo !! And with half term next week we are off on our first sober family holiday !! I'm really excited! Now change on the scales for me yet.. fingers crossed that will start to happen soon. Have a lovely long weekend everyone x

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    1. I'm on Day 77 - hurrah!!! :)) Well done both of us! But I am fatter than when I stopped. Mainlining cakes and chocolate. But hoping that will change too - combination of 100 days/metabolism settling down and the horrible prospect of high summer clothes. Have a great weekend!

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  4. My main reason for wanting to stop drinking is my weight. I'm not sure of pounds, but I've gained 10 kg in about 8 years (I think that's roughly 20 pounds). I know drinking causes the weight gain. When I drink I consistently gain weight. When I stop, I don't lose anything, but I also don't gain. I really hope to lose some weight. Did you diet at all to lose 21 pounds? Or was it just removing the alcohol?

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    1. I didn't consciously diet, but I did eat less rubbish, as I always used to carb binge on a hangover!

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    2. That's great! That's what I'm hoping for, weight loss by default, no counting calories. I also find my desire to be active increases with no drinking.

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  5. Good reminder, I'm so impatient. I told myself I can't even really consider drinking until I lose a bunch of weight..at this rate I'll be a year AF by then! But that's a good thing I guess!

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  6. I think it's important to remember not just the weight, but the glowy skin, white(r) eyes and certain je ne sais quoi that you get, the little bounce in your step that became a dragging of those weighty feet when drinking. Without booze we look better, even if the weight doesn't come off fast- fact! If you don't mind me asking how much Becks Blue do you drink SoberMummy? xxx

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    1. Now I'm down to one a day, but during the whole cancer thing I could get through up to 6! Not ideal, but it was a case of 'whatever gets you through'.....

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  7. I was a big time snacker while drinking. Glad to be done with that. Drinking and eating are closely tied together and are often sister addictions. But in the beginning, it's so important to eat without guilt while we work through abstaining from alcohol.

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  8. I have been very disappointed with lack of weight loss. At nearly five months AF I had lost about three pounds. So am now on a proper diet. Maybe the fact that I too am post menopausal is the issue.

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  9. Great post. The pink cloud is nowhere in sight but at least I can focus on possible weight loss! Actually during my last attempt at sobriety I lost 12kg in 3 months only to put most of it back on when I resumed drinking. But I lost puffiness too, especially on the face. And my belly got smaller....miraculous!For some reason blogger won't let me sign in with my wordpress name, I am probably doing something wrong. Plantbasednanablog.wordpress.com

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  10. Hi, I did what SM advises in yesterday's post, and cut myself some slack for the first two months AF, figuring whatever got me through...I put on half a stone....yikes, but now feel strong enough to start to focus on losing it again......actually taking the pressure off the intensity of thinking about not drinking..if that makes sense...if am looking forward to my body sorting itself out..MenoPAWS as I call it definitely makes it more of a challenge...oh well what is life without a challenge...have a great weekend all..

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  11. I am 53 days today and feeling very fat around the middle. I thought I would lose weight being AF so a little disappointed but I know that I have increased my fat and sugar intake, actually food in general! I hope that eventually I can get control of that too :)

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  12. I will have to look this up on I player.. Was it Michael Moseley? I'm secretly addicted to his programmes! Gaining weight at 30 days was the thing that scuppered me in Feb. This time round I'm clinging to improved mood and sleep as my key motivators, plus my liver prefers it!! Exercise is far easier when not hungover, and I figure exercise will finally lead to weight loss. We'll have to pencil that walk after half term! 😀

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  13. I find I am more sensitive to what my body needs now. I think I was so depleted of nutrients - I craved salt and water like mad until I could have my wine. Now everything tastes salty to me. I have lost a couple pounds but I am just taking it day by day knowing there is time to lose pounds. I just cant do it all right now (day 55) but my natural instincts are kicking in and I certainly eat less crap!

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