If you drink, it's important to understand how alcohol can affect your body, and contribute to undesired health symptoms and conditions such as weight gain and belly fat.
First, it's helpful to understand what “moderate” consumption truly is — most people I work with consider themselves moderate drinkers when in fact, they're actually “heavy” drinkers. At least, according to the medical definition.
Moderate vs. heavy drinking
The Mayo Clinic actually defines heavy drinking as more than 3 drinks on any day or more than 7 drinks a week for women and for men older than age 65.
Moderate consumption, for women, is defined as up to 1 drink per day; in other words, no more than 7 drinks a week.
For men 65 and younger, this means up to 2 drinks a day, or less than 14 drinks a week.
So, if you drink, please note where you are on that spectrum. Most of my clients are surprised to actually find out what the clinical definition of moderate is. I know I was!
- Here are the negative effects that even moderate consumption can have on the body:
- Even small amounts of alcohol can increase the risk of breast cancer. In fact, the more women drink, the greater their risk.
- Among premenopausal women, alcohol can increase estrogen levels which, in turn, may promote breast cancer.
- It can irritate the digestive system and contribute to leaky gut.
- Moderate drinking can contribute to weight gain or the retention of excess weight, especially belly fat.
- It's dehydrating — which undermines our brain, skin, organs, or tissues.
Alcohol = sugar
I totally get it — I like my martinis and bubbles. However, it's not something we should indulge in every day.
If you're trying to lose weight, reducing or eliminating your alcohol use is definitely something that can help you lose weight and reduce belly fat.
After all, alcohol is basically sugar in a different form. At least that's how your body processes it.
I'll also add that if you have some weight that is particularly difficult to lose, it'll be challenging to lose it without giving up alcohol — or drastically reducing your consumption of it.
Think about it — you'd probably agree that losing weight would be difficult if you insisted on having a bowl of ice cream after dinner every night, right? Well, trying to lose weight without giving up your nightly beer or wine is pretty much the same thing.
Making friends with the mocktail
One of the healthiest habits you can pick up is to make friends with the mocktail.
If you have a habit of coming home and having beer, wine or a cocktail every night, try creating a new ritual around an alcohol-free beverage. You could try a serving of your favorite kombucha in a nice glass, with a garnish of lemon or lime.
My favorite brand of kombucha is GT’s, which can be found nationwide. While I love all kinds of kombucha, I like the GTs brand because many of the flavors are low in sugar. I especially like the Lavender Love and Multi-Green flavors. Both flavors have only 2 grams of sugar per serving (note: there are typically 2 servings per bottle).
If you have edible essential oils on hand (i.e., DOterra brand), you could try sparkling water with a drop of lemon or grapefruit oil. Or fennel. Super delicious!
If you have a wine ritual in the evenings, try creating a special post-dinner ritual around tea.
Go to the store — or better yet, a tea shop — and pick up a couple of teas that spark your curiosity. My favorite teas from the grocery store include Kava Stress Relief and Soothing Caramel Bedtime Tea. Both are from Yogi Tea, and pretty easy to find at Whole Foods and other natural grocers.
If at a tea shop, I look for blends that include chamomile, nettle, lavender, and rose.