Alcohol and fat gain

Does drinking alcohol contribute to the development of overweight and obesity? It is in fact quite a difficult question because research in this matter provide conflicting data. Also, daily observations do not make it easy to draw clear conclusions. Therefore, I should take a closer look at this issue and present how ethanol affects the composition of your body.

Calorific value of ethanol

Ethanol, which is a component of various beverages, has a certain energy value and it is decidedly not low because it amounts to 7,1 kcal in 1 gramme. This means that alcohol is more caloric than carbohydrates and protein (but less than fat). Considering this component only through the prism of its energy value, it should be labelled as potentially fattening. Nevertheless, the effect ethanol has on your weight and body composition should be analysed in a broader context.

The proof of a skinny wino

Although you can argue the calorific value of alcohol many times, you will still meet someone who, sooner or later, would asks the obvious question: "Have you ever seen a fat drunkard?". Most people answer: "no" for obvious reasons because in fact the men staggering next to a liquour store usually have no problem with excess body weight; more than that: they are often simply skinny. But logic tells they actually consume large doses of calories from ethanol. The explanation of this "paradox" is quite obvious. Gentlemen from the liquour store are not necessarily thin but rather emaciated. The main source of energy in their "diet" is ethanol. So this example does not reflect the consequences of such habbits as sipping beer to pizza and snacking crisps after that. But the above-described comparison does not exhaust the topic completely. The problem is in fact more complicated.

"After-alcohol thermogenesis"

The body releases energy contained in food either in the form of ATP or heat. Individual macrocomponents differ in what is the ratio of released useful energy and heat energy. It is said that most thermogenic food component is protein because up to 25% of its energy is dissipated as heat. This is why it is believed that it's difficult to gain weight from the protein. At this point it is worth noting that ethanol is also very thermogenic component of the diet. Research shows that in people who are not alcoholics and consume low to moderate amounts of ethanol, about 20% of the energy is dissipated as heat. Interestingly, the higher the dose of alcohol consumed and it is more concentrated, the stronger thermogenesis becomes.

Does this mean you cannot gain weight from drinking alcohol?

Before, however, you get super-happy that you can fight calories with colourful cocktails, you ought to know that the situation is more complicated. Drinking alcohol is a different story than incorporating it in a moderate doses in your diet. Paradoxically, it is easier to gain weight when you keep moderation. You shouldn't draw too far-reaching conclusions and increase the dose because consequences can be devastating. When you drink alcohol in addition to meals you consumed every day, then whether you want it or not, you increase the energy supply. Ethanol itself is not deposited in the form of fat. Not only that - it is burned preferentially depending on lipids and glucose.

It should be remembered that the circulatory system, to which ingested nutrients eventually go, does not serve as a waiting room and if energy substrates are too high, they will be set aside as reserves, which means: fat. This of course is not the end, there are more problems.