Dec 20 2012

Alcohol What’s The Big (Belly) Deal?

The Season of excess is upon us, and you have more than likely resigned to the fact that you’ll be welcoming in 2013 rather larger than you were in 2012! Although it is not generally accepted, drink is the largest contributor to your annual expansion. In addition, the effect is…

The Season of excess is upon us, and you have more than likely resigned to the fact that you’ll be welcoming in 2013 rather larger than you were in 2012!

Although it is not generally accepted, drink is the largest contributor to your annual expansion. In addition, the effect is often not fully understood.  So for those of you who are interested, here’s three reasons to avoid over consumption of alcohol this holiday.

No. 1 Alcohol is calorie dense

For those of you who need proof, compare a picture of yourself the year you went to  university against one where you left. See any difference? Contrary to common belief, alcohol is not a carbohydrate although it does contain them.  Alcohol itself is calorie dense, with 7 calories per gram (almost as much as fat at 9 calories per gram) and more than carbs or protein (about 4 per gram).  Beer can reach 250 calories per serving; whilst one shot contains up to 200 calories – and when you’re tossing that in a sugary mixer (200 kcal) you are looking at spending an hour in the gym to work off one drink!

No. 2 Alcohol lowers testosterone levels

Drinking alcohol affects your hormones, increasing stress hormones (cortisol) and modifying steroid metabolism in the liver. This  means a shift in the balance of testosterone (the male hormone) & estrogen (the female hormone). Very bad news! Ever heard of man boobs AKA moobs?  With an increase in estrogen, men begin to put on weight where their pecs should be – not a good look!  For women this excess estrogen promotes fat deposits around the hips causing an equally good looking pot belly or ‘muffin-top’!

The reduction in testosterone will carry into your performance at the gym; as testosterone is the chief muscle building hormone. Results will become hard to come by and this can lead to the worst body shape imaginable: ‘Skinny-Fat’ (Skinny arms and legs with a pot belly, as modeled so well by Jeremy Clarkson)

No. 3 Alcohol loves bad food
Possibly I should say, ‘you’ love bad food when having a drink.  Alcohol promotes a severe drop in blood sugar, making you crave calorie dense foods such as kebabs, cheese, burgers etc.  However, the added calories are only half the impact. Robert C. Atkins says “Here’s the problem with all alcoholic beverages, and the reason I recommend refraining from alcohol consumption on a diet. Alcohol, whenever taken in, is the first fuel to burn. While that’s going on, your body will not burn fat.”  So whilst the alcohol remains in your system all addition calories from meals, mixers & takeaway will go to fat.  Ever woken up still over the limit or hungover? The greasy breakfast and much of the next days food will be stored as fat until you are stone cold sober.

Good luck, and have a great xmas from the Improve MY Fitness Team.

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Salman