Why Trading Food for Booze Doesn’t Work

By Kara Greenwood

At one point we all had to take an alcohol awareness class to enforce how excessive alcohol is harmful to the body and can create a myriad of health consequences.  We are aware that high blood pressure, stroke, cancer of the mouth and throat, pancreatitis, nerve damage, and brain damage are some of the many serious problems that can occur due to heavy drinking.  Another consequence we all know of is weight gain. This is a big concern for most of us, especially on a college campus where binge drinking is most prevalent.  For those looking to lose or maintain weight and still be able to drink on the weekends, you may want to rethink “saving up” calories during the week so you can spend them on booze.  Sheila Tucker is the executive dietitian from Boston College who shared with us how skipping meals or restricting food intake for alcohol calories will not help you in the long run and can actually increase your risk for weight gain.

Although it is not an official medical term for an eating disorder, “drunkorexia” is a more commonly used term today for a disordered eating approach.  The term means food restriction, excessive exercise, binging followed by purging, and then heavy drinking. This unhealthy relationship with food and alcohol is not only dangerous for your health, but it will also push you farther away from your fitness and weight loss goals.

“Binge drinking increases the likelihood of binge eating or increased intake following drinking. It also alters fat metabolism, causing fat storage to be more likely,” said Tucker. All the healthy food choices you made during the week and that twenty five minute ab class you powered through will all be thrown away if it is followed by excessive beer or cocktails at that pre game, tailgate, or bar.

“Excessive alcohol alters nutrient digestion and absorption, increasing the risk of poor nutrition especially in those who already have a poor diet because they are restricting intake to ‘save up’ for alcohol calories,” said Tucker.  Alcohol also interferes with absorption of nutrients. Once you consume alcohol, your body begins to absorb and digest it before anything else.  This means that the meal you ate instantly stores as fat because your liver is more focused on digesting the alcohol into acetate.  That kale salad you ate earlier will be useless and not provide any health benefits because it will only be detoxified.  If you spent the week restricting your calories, your body is already deficient in vitamins and minerals and alcohol will only make this matter worse.  Poor nutrition means brittle nails, hair, and no glow in your skin. In addition to that, your body will increase fat storage around your waist making it harder to build lean muscle.

“Binge drinking and restrictive eating increases risk of regrettable consequences, especially in women,” said Tucker. Females who restrict food, fat, or calories for alcohol consumption are more likely to get intoxicated and do something they later regret.  These are all factors to consider when going out and making choices on food and alcohol to be able to maintain a healthy lifestyle and workout routine.

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Categories: Your Lifestyle, Your Nutrition

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