Alcohol & Weight Gain - Fact or Myth?

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Joined: Oct 12
Posts: 1,081

Posted: 24 Dec 2012, 14:39
The more I read here the less I know. Or .. thought I knew. Or.. well, you get the idea. I remember a post about 3 meals vs 5 meals and the blood sugar insulin effect or non effect on weight gain and it was an incredible debate. So I'm wondering about the consensus on 'drinking & dieting'.

I've never understood the 'alcohol is dehydrating' opinion when it seems people who drink it are always a little 'puffy'. (I used to be a weekend bartender and my 'regulars' always looked..a little bloated). IS it dehydrating or does it lead to fluid retention? Does it affect the blood sugar and cause weight gain or is it completely disconnected?

I'm not losing WEIGHT. I'm converting FAT to MUSCLE to be healthier.

Joined: Aug 12
Posts: 1,286

Posted: 24 Dec 2012, 20:08
Alcohol calories are not metabolized in the same way carbohydrate calories are. After many years of research they were forced to acknowledge that people who stop drinking don't lose weight, even if the only calories they give up are the liquid ones.

If it's fluid retention you are concerned with, drinking extra water would make the difference.

I find that drinking makes me want to snack.

Joined: Dec 12
Posts: 97

Posted: 24 Dec 2012, 20:44
I reduced my calorie intake by 3500+ calories a day (in alcohol) when I quit drinking. I replaced the alcohol with 500 to 1000 in food calories as I quit smoking at the same time. Keeping my eating habits almost the same, I gained almost 40 lbs in a year.

My anecdotal evidence that alcohol calories are not metabolized the same.

Joined: Dec 11
Posts: 167

Posted: 24 Dec 2012, 23:43
eKatherine wrote:
I find that drinking makes me want to snack.

That's because it lowers our inhibitions Wink
“The last of the human freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.” ~Victor E. Frankl

Joined: Dec 12
Posts: 28

Posted: 25 Dec 2012, 06:50
Alcohol seems to do very strange things to weight in general I find! My friend is lighter after a night out, blames it on dehydration however I'm the opposite. During my diet, I've been on 3 nights out where I've had a glass of wine (or 10) and without fail put on between 2-4lbs each time. Took me at least a week of clean eating and working out to lose the extra pounds again, safe to say that I won't be drinking on new year's eve! Sad Not sure if it is water retention or the sugar...but whatever it is, it's not good!
Sweat like a pig, look like a fox

August 13th 2012: 202lbs (starting weight)
Christmas Day 2012: 169lbs
New Year's day 2013: Starting the Dukan Diet at 169.8lbs
1 Feb 2013: 160.4lbs
1 August 2013: 146lbs

Joined: Aug 12
Posts: 93

Posted: 25 Dec 2012, 11:21
People that drink usually do not have a healthy diet and don't eat enough protein. Protein breaks down in the body and will tend to pull fluid from your tissue into your blood stream. Dehydration refers to adequate fluid in the blood stream. Many people that drink and who get bloated lose their fluid into their tissues. Your weight will go up, but you will still be considered dehydrated. A good way to tell if you are dehydrated is to look for a few signs--thirst and dark urine.

Weight 317-----------------259.7 lbs
Bust 52.5 inches---------47 inches
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Joined: Aug 12
Posts: 42

Posted: 25 Dec 2012, 19:47
Alcohol is a diuretic and causes an increase in urination. This, in turn, leads to dehydration if it occurs long enough. It does this by inhibiting a hormone called antidiuretic hormone (ADH - AKA vasopressin).

There are several resources discussing the role of AHD and the effects alcohol has on it. Here are two of them:

Third paragraph down on this page:

A basic flow chart showing the role of ADH:

I hope this helps.

Joined: Sep 09
Posts: 1,995

Posted: 26 Dec 2012, 02:00
I believe you're referring to a thread I initiated because of questions I got while teaching my weight loss class. I firmly believe that the calories in vs. calories out go when it comes to alcohol just like anything else. If you drink a lot of alcohol, you consume many calories. You will gain weight (or not lose weight). It's no different than asking if it's true that you gain weight if you eat a lot of chocolate (and you will, in case you should be in doubt. lol). Of course, what can severely influence is that lack of judgement often comes with alcohol, and you may drink/eat more than you actually think you do.
Sure, there is a dehydration factor and all that, but IMO this matters absolutely nill. We're not here to lose water. We're here to lose fat. Water will come and go no matter what we do.
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Posted: 26 Dec 2012, 18:50
All great responses thank you. I am really not asking for myself - I'd rather chew my calories. I am truly curious about opinions and responses. My close long time friend eats so little food but probably drinks 6 beers a night yet continues to gain weight. Made me wonder if 'all cals' aren't equal. I was thinking about this also because of the net Cal vs exercise here on FS. I've read some foods like apples - the body burns nearly as many cals processing it as it contains - yet the FS calc doesn't take food processing into consideration in the net effect or so it seems.
I'm not losing WEIGHT. I'm converting FAT to MUSCLE to be healthier.

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