The science’y bit…[caption id="attachment_3499" align="aligncenter" width="240"] Alcohol at its very basic breakdown[/caption] Before we begin though, it only seems sensible to understand alcohol and how it is metabolised and used inside our bodies. Alcohol is made up of carbon hydrogen and oxygen atoms and has a molecular formula of test CH3CH2OH as you can see by the diagram above. Around 98% of alcohol consumed is absorbed into the bloodstream and processed in the liver, with the remaining 2% exiting the body through urine, perspiration or expiration. In the liver, alcohol is broken down by an enzyme ADH (alcohol dehydrogenase) and eventually produces acetate. Acetate is the form in which energy can be extracted from alcohol in the form of ATP. It then eventually exits the body as H2O and CO2.
#1 The body's first go-to energy sourceWhen alcohol is consumed along with the three major macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats), acetate is the primary energy source for the body meaning that it is metabolised first, leaving glycogen, glucose, fatty acids and amino acids untouched. Therefore, alcohol delays the burning of energy through food we consume, causing it to either be stored or broken down at a later date. Therefore the next time you exercise, you may be metabolising glycogen or fat stores that should’ve already been metabolised before, yet alcohol was consumed to prevent this. To explain, if you were to consistently consume alcohol throughout a day, your macronutrients would never be touched by the bodies metabolic processes and you’d be left with excess energy, causing fat to be deposited by excess glycogen stores and fatty-acids.
#2 Alcohol is the calorie king![caption id="attachment_3497" align="aligncenter" width="581"] Alcohol can lead to needing a bigger tape measure...[/caption] Count your calories, don’t count your calories… Say what you like, listen to what you like. However, there is no doubt what so ever that if you are consuming a surplus of calories compared to how much you are burning off (through your basal metabolic rate and additional exercise), energy will be stored within the body, usually as fat. When your goals are to burn fat and lose weight, you will no doubt be controlling your macros, caloric intake and volume of exercise. On average, alcohol contains around 7kcal per gram. This is almost twice that of carbohydrates and protein and just 2kcal less than fat! Therefore, when you are consuming alcohol you are consuming a large amount of calories! Your average pint of lager contains approximately 180kcal and 165kcal for a glass of red. The shocking facts are, that consuming your average 6 pints on a night out will provide you with over 1000kcal of energy! This is almost half the amount that some people will be aiming to consume in a day, so it's no wonder you can go on partying until 6am!
#3 Inhibitions go out of the window![caption id="attachment_3498" align="aligncenter" width="448"] Resist foods that become tempting when drinking![/caption] After throwing back a few pints and throwing a few nasty dance moves, you will often see yourself heading towards a takeaway to consume a greasy, satisfying late-night snack. The reasons for this are because individuals are much more ‘loose’ and have relaxed decision making, it can be quite easy to say ‘oh go on then!’ Alcohol also seems to provide quite a stimulating effect for appetite due to its lack of nutrition and ‘empty calories’. Consuming all of these calories and piling burgers and chips on top are really not what you need prior to heading home for some well-earned rest. When you are sleeping at complete rest, this is when your metabolic rate is at its lowest, therefore all of these calories will not be necessary, so will eventually be stored as excess fat.
Conclusion…By no means are we trying to scare you away from alcohol and put a devil tag on it! Yet we are just making you aware of the kind of effects it can have on your body’s composition. You will see multiple individuals working their butt’s off in the kitchen to ensure they are eating right, but will binge once or twice a week and wonder why they aren’t seeing the results! Don’t let this be you, enjoy yourself but understand the consequences. Our suggestion would be, that if you are to let loose for a night, try to refrain from the greasy end to the night and instead choose something more healthy. Aim to perform fasted exercise the next day (even just a walk) and eat at a later time, to burn off as many of those extra calories as possible! YOUR VIEW: Comment below your thoughts on the effects on alcohol on training and overall wellbeing!