Does alcohol make you fat? | Nutrition | Guide |

Does alcohol make you fat?

Does alcohol make you fat?
Alcohol makes you fat! ... This stereotype has become widespread in the popular consciousness.
What certainly contributed to this notion is the image of the Sarmatian drunkard, with a big belly overflowing the Slutsk belt and a large glass in his hand. However, intoxication was associated in the past centuries with wealth and lavish lifestyle, that is generally with indulging oneself in all things without any restraint – and with stuffing oneself and drinking a lot. But is alcohol fattening? ... The issue should actually be pondered over...

At some stage, alcohol uses the same metabolic pathways as sugars and fats, therefore, ultimately, it may be a source of useful energy for the body. It is burnt preferentially – in the first place – and so limits the breakdown of fat for energy and the burning of glucose and fatty acids, which increases their storage capacity in adipose tissue. Alcohol promotes the accumulation blubber, but only if consumed with food rich in fat and carbohydrates. But we do not have to put neck of pork or greasy sausages on the grill, since chicken, fish, pork chops and beef taste equally good.

Unfortunately, some very strong alcoholic drinks stimulate appetite... To the greatest extent it pertains to the low strength ones of ca. 5%, while over 10% this effect is visibly reduced.
What is also dangerous for the body shape is “pathological” appetite associated with the so-called morning after syndrome. The best and simplest way to deal with this phenomenon is not to overindulge while having fun. But when it does happen, you should try to cure the hangover munchies with lean meats, such as roast chicken, for instance.


Disastrous for the body shape aesthetics are all sweet spirits: liqueurs, infusions, heavy wine and beer, and especially long drinks – hard liquor diluted with sweetened liquids. The reason should be obvious – a combination of alcohol and sugar. The former is burnt preferentially by the body, while the sugar is retained and converted into phosphoglycerol stored in the adipose tissue.
More potent alcohols (dry vodka, whiskey, brandy, cognac, etc.) are relatively safe if chased with water, since alcohol by itself, without sugar, does not substantially affect the volume of adipose tissue.
The biggest controversy seems to be aroused by beer – the most popular drink at informal gatherings. Only light pilsner may be considered relatively safe, while the strong ones contain large quantities of highly fattening sugar – maltose. In pilsner, the content of this compound is low, while fat-burning substances – hordenine and diterpenes – penetrating into the brew from sprouting barley are present here.
Hordenine and diterpenes may be classified as thermogenic nutrients. For instance, diterpenes include forskolin – an active substance present in the Indian Coleus extract – added to thermogenic products facilitating weight loss, so popular lately. More on thermogenics from various drinks later...
The danger of drinking beer is associated with its exceptional power to stimulate appetite. But, as suggested above, this can be satisfied with high-protein food – portions of lean meat from the grill.

Dry white wine also appears to be safe, as it contains more than 10% of alcohol and does not affect appetite to a large extent. There is virtually no sugar in it, but there are present proanthocyanidins that burn fat and act like thermogenic catechin derivatives, of which more in the next paragraph...


Dry red wine is simply packed with fat burners. All of them, as well as those mentioned above present in beer and white wine, belong to the group of thermogenics, of which I have written several times in my previous articles. Without going into detail here, thermogenic nutrients act as the most important calorigenic hormone in the human body, burning fat intensively with energy dispersion – the noradrenaline. It is drawing on them that modern weight loss aids are based – even Thermo Speed, Therm Line or Lady Therm.

Red wine contains tyramine, which, just as hordenine mentioned above, acts very similarly to the calorigenic noradrenaline. The catechin and quercetin derivatives present in the beverage inhibit the inactivation of tyramine and our internal noradrenaline, so that both substances can more efficiently and for longer break up fat. This also lies behind the slimming activity of proanthocyanidins, mentioned in the paragraph on white wine. Generally, these are the same substances that green tea that and its dry extracts – e.g. OLIMP Green Tea – abound in, and which are responsible for slimming and pro-health properties of this valuable plant.

Also the pro-health component of red wine, resveratrol, which has anticancer properties, is equally effective in weight loss, as indisputably evidenced by recently completed studies. This is most likely owing to its ability to inhibit the production and activity of prostaglandins – tissue hormones limiting the effects of noradrenaline and virtually essential for the life activity of fat cells. Resveratrol belongs to the chemical group of stilbenes – compounds resembling female sex hormones, oestrogens. It is suspected that it binds to the oestrogen receptors in tissues, although it does not exhibit the activity of these hormones, and consequently reduces their effects. Compounds of similar activity, called anti-oestrogens, are generally beneficial for the figure, since oestrogens contribute to the accumulation of fat around the nipples – a phenomenon called lipomastia – and along the collagen fibres of the skin – the cellulite. This is also why some researchers suggest that the slimming activity of resveratrol may also be related to some extent to its anti-oestrogen properties.

I have some good news for the fans of long drinks... The currently trendy vodka with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice may act similarly to red wine. The juice contains much the same in action set of active substances: twin noradrenalines – octopamine and synephrine, quercetin derivatives extending their activity, and resveratrol with pro-health and slimming properties.

It is worth noting here that synephrine and octopamine, found not only in the grapefruit but also in all citrus fruits (and in the greatest abundance in bitter oranges), are probably the most valuable thermogenics, since their activity the most closely resembles that of our internal noradrenaline. It is them, in the form of dry extract from bitter orange, that usually constitute the base for capsulated thermogenics, as is the case with Therm Line and Thermo Speed for instance.

But, but... Let us not get overexcited! Dear Friends – moderation, moderation, and once again moderation!
Sławomir Ambroziak


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