How Much Does Alcohol Really Derail Your Diet? We Found out

Seriously, how much damage can a few innocent tipples really do? We asked a PT for her verdict, and sadly the results aren't good.

Group of girls drinking champagne

You’re a total pro when it comes to eating clean during the week, but you majorly slip up when it comes to the weekend. Why? Cos you’re down the local quicker than you can say vodka martini at 5pm Friday evening, and you’re certainly guilty of having a few too many when you’re there. #Oops.

But when you’ve been eating well all week, how much of a difference does booze actually make to your diet? We asked personal trainer Amanda Moroney to find out.

The first problem? “Alcohol impairs the absorption of protein,” Amanda explains. “That means, each time you drink you are both slowing down your metabolism and your body’s ability to build lean muscle.” Damn.

But it’s not just our bod’s absorption of protein that’s affected by a heavy night on the sauce. “Alcohol significantly impairs sleep by increasing its usage of GABA, a neurotransmitter in your brain that helps you to stay asleep,” says Amanda. “If you use up your GABA stores from alcohol consumption, you end up tossing and turning for the night and consequently, have a very restless night’s sleep.”

The likelihood of reaching for jellies and chocolate increases as your body seeks out fast-releasing carb foods to give you a surge in energy.

The result? “You’ll feel groggy and lethargic the next day,” says Amanda, “and the likelihood of reaching for jellies and chocolate increases as your body seeks out fast-releasing carb foods to give you a surge in energy.” Er, we’ve got the guilts.

To top if off, “alcohol increases cortisol production, and increased cortisol levels are known to cause water retention and also promote body fat storage, particularly in the lower abdomen area.

“Basically, booze shuts down your body’s ability to burn fat stores,” explains Amanda, “and although the alcohol itself isn’t stored as fat, any foods you eat for the next 24 hours are.”

So, what’s the fix? Well, as with most things moderation is key. So while you don’t have to go swearing off the booze, you may need to exercise a little extra self control. Because, as Amanda explains, “the combination of eating whatever is in sight and switching off your body’s natural ability to burn fat is a sure way to hinder your progress.”

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