Did you drink too much over the holidays?

 

You may have had the best intentions not to overdo it, but you know how it goes. Our intention to have just one drink turns into two, followed by much more. Plus many days of repeating the same scenario!

 

So now it’s the new year, and it’s hard to get out of the habit. But, the reality is that if you have a desire to get leaner, stronger and healthier, drinking needs to be kept to a minimum.

 

Drinking daily and overdoing it, makes us feel tired, dehydrated, unfocused and just craving bad foods. Well, that’s just our body trying to detox from the burden that alcohol puts on our organs. Imagine your body didn’t have to be burdened with such a task? Well let’s just say, you would be feeling a lot leaner than you currently do.

 

Think about the amount of sugar contained in just one drink! Those empty sugar calories need to go somewhere, and they usually end up right around your midsection, your thighs your arms…..basically leaving you feeling frumpy!

 

If weight loss and health are at the top of your resolutions this year, these are the top 3 reasons you need to stop drinking regularly:

 

1.This first one is a bit long but, bear with me because the best way to understand the toll alcohol takes on the body is to start off with what happens when alcohol enters the body and we overdo it.

 

When we have a drink it begins by entering the stomach and small intestine, and then small blood vessels carry it to the bloodstream. A part of this alcohol enters your lungs, hence your breath smelling like a brewery. Another part is excreted by your kidneys, hence why we need to pee so much when we drink. Part of it is release to through your skin (the biggest detox organ), hence why if you drink too much we stink of alcohol. Lastly, part of it reaches your brain and makes you giddy, lowers inhibitions, and impairs rational thought.

 

Your liver then takes on the most important role of metabolizing the alcohol, where enzymes begin to break it down. It may surprise you to know that the liver can process one ounce of alcohol (about 1 typical drink) in one hour. If we consume more than can be metabolized, your body becomes overloaded, the additional alcohol will accumulate in the blood and tissues until it can catch up with the task of metabolizing it. This is why the general recommendation is that if you have more than one drink an hour you are simply too impaired to drive.

 

A hangover is the body’s way of dealing with the toxic effect as well as withdrawal from alcohol. It’s symptoms, which we are all aware of include headaches, dehydration, unstable blood sugar, and if you’ve really overdone it, nausea, vomiting and feeling depressed.

 

2. One of the biggest fitness mistakes that you can make, is thinking that you can get away with going to the gym and discounting what you put into your mouth, including alcohol.

 

After a night of drinking your body secretes ghrelin, which is a hormone secreted by the stomach when it is hungry, this then signals the brain to eat. Ghrelin is also the hormone that rises when we are under stress, and drinking definitely adds to the stress bucket for your body.

 

In order to drop ghrelin levels, we need to eat! And generally speaking, we don’t make the best food choices after a night of drinking, which not only adds to the empty calorie bucket, but also means you end up eating junk all day long.

 

3. Drinking lowers our blood sugar, so you may notice that after a night of drinking you feel chilled and have cold hands and feet.

 

According to Chris Kresser, low blood sugar causes a huge spike in cortisol. Which if you’re not aware of, is one of the hormones we want to control if we want to lose weight. In an article: Thyroid, Blood Sugar, and Metabolic Syndrome, he speaks of the fact that our bodies are programmed to recognize low blood sugar as a threat to survival. When our blood sugar drops below normal, our adrenal glands respond by secreting cortisol, which in essence is a stress “fight or flight” response that helps us flee from danger. Cortisol then tells our liver to produce more glucose so that our blood sugar can get back to normal again.

 

Its role is to increase the amount of glucose for brain function and tissue repair, meanwhile, it stalls the function of our digestive system, reproductive system, and other non-critical systems necessary for survival.

 

So should we never drink? I mean, I definitely enjoy a glass of wine or two on occasion. I would say, if you enjoy it, then why cut it out completely? But we’re certainly better off finding another outlet, other than opening a bottle of wine, to destress after a long day at work. If you want to break a bad habit, replace it with a good habit: a walk, a yoga class, a workout – I don’t know many people inclined to drink after a workout or yoga. Whatever the new habit is, be prepared to give it at least 6 weeks to make it stick.

 

Here’s wishing you health, happiness, and love in 2017!  

~Daniela