The Truth About Alcohol, Calories in Alcohol, And How This Plays Into Weight Loss



Why is it difficult for someone that drinks large amounts of alcohol to lose weight?  I've known a few friends that seem to do more drinking than eating, yet they seem to be the heaviest people I know!  Why is this?  In this article, I am going to (attempt to) explain the caloric content of alcohol and why the calories involved in drinking actually hinder weight loss.

Here's a breakdown of the amount of calories per gram of what we consume:

1 gram of fat = 9 calories
1 gram of protein = 4 calories 
1 gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories
1 gram of alcohol = 7 calories

A gram of alcohol contains more calories than every other thing we consume (except for fats).  With this information in mind, you can imagine how difficult it is to lose weight if you consume large amounts of beer!

The liver process alcohol as acetaldehyde, which is also contained in fruits, bread, and coffee.  The liver can only process aceltadehyde at a specific rate.  I'll explain more in detail below.

When alcohol is taken in, it will pass through the stomach into the intestines, then into the blood, this process is referred to as "absorption". The alcohol is eventually metabolized by enzymes within the body, which are body chemicals that break down other chemicals. Inside of the liver, a special enzyme called "alcohol dehydrogenase" (ADH) assists with the conversion of alcohol to something called acetaldehyde.

Fun fact:  Acetaldehyde is what contributes to several hangovers!

A shot of vodka contains 60-70 cal.
Acetaldehyde is then converted rather quickly to acetate by other enzymes and, then metabolized to carbon dioxide and H2O.  The liver metabolizes most of the consumed alcohol, but the small amount that remains unmetabolized allows alcohol concentration to be measured in urine and on the breath.

If you want to drink the most alcoholic concentration with the least amount of calories, it's best that you stick to vodka.  A shot of vodka contains 60-70 calories.

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