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Does Alcohol Stop Fat Burn? (4 Lose Weight Tips)

Anthony Diaz
Published by Anthony Diaz
Last updated: August 18, 2022

Many years of fitness coaching have taught me that even moderate drinking can affect fat loss goals.

So, if you’re seriously trying to lose weight, you can basically consider drinking excess alcohol as poison. In fact, that’s how your body actually treats it.

For this article, I decided to deepen my knowledge on this matter, so I examined all research papers I could find on the subject to better educate both my clients and readers on the effects alcohol has on losing weight.

Let’s dive in.

Quick Summary

  • While drinking alcohol may enhance your social life, it can also slow down your body’s ability to lose weight.
  • When you consume alcohol, your liver stops what it’s doing and focuses on metabolizing the alcohol and its by-products.
  • Binge drinking is particularly harmful because it can significantly inhibit fat oxidation, leading to weight gain in the long run.

Does Alcohol Consumption Affect Your Body’s Ability to Burn Fat?

A one on one drink

Yes, alcohol consumption affects your body’s ability to burn fat. The more alcohol you consume, the more fat you accumulate.

Consumption of alcoholic beverages can affect the body’s ability to lose fat in several ways. Let’s go through the most important points.

Empty Calories

The more calories you consume, the more fat you accumulate. Alcohol has very little nutritional value; it’s basically empty calories. And mixed drinks tend to have a higher number of calories.

So even if you eat a healthy diet, the extra calorie intake from alcohol can put a dent in your weight loss efforts.

Body’s Metabolic Preference For Alcohol

During alcohol metabolism, your body stops metabolizing everything else and gives preference to alcohol [1].

In other words, your body stops burning fat and absorbing nutrients from other foods to prioritize getting rid of the alcohol in your system.

Fatty Liver and Other Health Conditions

A person with excess fat physique

Heavy drinking in a short time, even a span of a few days, can build up fat in the liver [2]. This condition is called alcoholic fatty liver disease, and it affects the overall function of this essential organ.

Drinking heavily can also cause a host of other health problems like heart disease, stroke, and certain kinds of cancer [3].

Excess Belly Fat

The term beer belly comes from alcohol’s ability to cause fat storage.

Beer is high in simple sugars, and foods rich in simple sugars are super high in calories. Unless you burn these calories quickly, they get stored as fat and lead to weight gain. In most cases, I’ve observed that the body tends to accumulate this fat in the belly region.

Lowers Testosterone

A drunk man pouring alcohol

Testosterone plays a major role in your metabolism, building muscle, and burning fat [4] [5].

And along with alcohol itself, low t-levels can negatively affect your weight loss goals [6].

Alcohol is well-known to negatively affect hormones in your body, especially testosterone [7]. Therefore, alcohol use can negatively affect your fitness goals both directly and indirectly by lowering your testosterone levels.

Increased Appetite

Alcohol is known to decrease inhibitions, especially when it comes to junk food. It has the tendency to trigger hunger signals in the brain, leading to an increased urge to eat more food [8].

Combined with lowered inhibitions, drinking alcohol will lead you to make poor choices, increase your food intake, and affect your weight loss.

How Is It Processed in the Body?

A person with a mild headache while drinking beer

After you consume alcohol, it is absorbed primarily from the small intestine and into the veins that collect blood from the stomach, bowels, and portal vein [9].

From there, it's carried over to the liver, where it's metabolized and exposed to various enzymes.

Alcohol molecules are very tiny and don't have to be broken down by digestive enzymes. So, they dissolve in fat and water easily and get into your blood very quickly.

Alcohol intake on an empty stomach is especially bad because your body will absorb it faster.

As it moves quickly from the mouth to the stomach, some of it is absorbed directly through the lining of the mouth, esophagus, and stomach walls.

When there's no food in your stomach or small intestine, the alcohol will come into direct contact with the stomach and intestinal walls, easily getting into your bloodstream.

4 Tips on Alcohol And Weight Loss

Here are a few tips you can follow to avoid the effects of alcohol on your fat loss.

  1. Limit your drinking to once a week, once a month, or only on cheat days.
  2. If drinking is something you can’t go without, then keep your alcohol use to a minimum per drinking session.
  3. Avoid binging on days you do drink, as it can significantly affect your diet and workout progress.
  4. If you’re an occasional drinker, completely avoiding alcohol may make you want to binge, so use your drinking as a reward (after an accomplishment or special occasion).
  • Regular Beer (12 oz): 103 Calories
  • Gin (1.5 oz): 97–116 Calories
  • Rum (1.5 oz): 97–116 Calories
  • Vodka (1.5 oz): 97–116 Calories
  • Whiskey (1.5 oz): 97–116 Calories
  • Glass of Wine (5 oz): 120–160 Calories

FAQs

How Long After Working Out Can I Drink Alcohol?

You need to wait for at least one hour after your workout before you can drink alcohol. However, it’s best to wait six hours.

Does Alcohol Stop Ketosis?

No, alcohol does not stop ketosis. However, depending on how much you drink, it will slow down your rate of ketosis.

What Are the Best Alcoholic Drinks for Weight Loss?

The best alcoholic drinks for weight loss are vodka, rum, champagne, tequila, and whiskey, as they all contain less than 105 calories per serving.

Don’t Let Alcohol Affect Your Fitness Goals

Even though the occasional drink won’t harm you, we recommend not touching alcohol for the duration of your weight loss journey. Instead, you should prioritize activities that speed up your fat loss, such as exercise and a clean diet.

You can also speed up fat loss with the following high-quality supplements:

They are designed to boost metabolism, suppress hunger, and burn fat more efficiently.

These are not magic pills, but based on my professional experience in the gym, they can fast-track fat loss significantly.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6527027/
  2. https://www.webmd.com/hepatitis/fatty-liver-disease
  3. https://academic.oup.com/alcalc/article/48/5/627/209734
  4. https://joe.bioscientifica.com/view/journals/joe/217/3/R25.xml
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5054608/
  6. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/93/7/2602/2598749
  7. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh22-3/195.pdf
  8. https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms14014
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3484320/
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