The answer to the question “Will drinking alcohol make you gain weight?”, isn’t as straightforward as you may think. Alcohol can cause weight gain in a variety of ways such as making you feel hungry, causing you to make poor food choices, stopping your body from burning fat, and being high in calories itself.
However, each person will be impacted differently by alcohol consumption depending on what they drink, how often they drink, how much they drink, what they eat when they drink, and their other personal lifestyle choices.
You’re much more likely to experience weight gain from your alcohol intake if you drink very heavily when you do drink if you have a tendency for weight gain, to begin with, and if you drink beer or liquor instead of wine. It’s possible that drinking patterns may pose an increased risk of weight gain, particularly if they’re drinking certain types of alcohol that are higher in calories.
For example, some studies have shown that light to moderate consumption of wine can actually protect against weight gain, whereas drinking spirits have been known to contribute to weight gain.
How alcohol consumption affects your weight is also dependent on your unique body and how you choose to live your life. You may be more or less likely to experience weight gain from excessive drinking depending on your genetics, your overall diet, your age, your gender, your level of physical activity, and your health. Your general well-being and physical health can increase the risks of obesity if you suffer from diabetes or are currently classed as obese.
Unfortunately, it’s still unclear whether alcohol consumption is one of the risk factors associated with gaining weight. Many studies that have been performed find both positive and negative links between binge drinking and obesity, some have found no association whatsoever.
The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) carried out a systematic review on alcohol and obesity which found that where there is a link between alcohol and weight gain, it is usually found to be more frequently in men rather than women.
They go on to explain that where beer consumption is investigated, it’s more likely to have a significant impact on abdominal obesity which is fat around the stomach, as opposed to general obesity. These findings suggest that whilst it’s certainly possible to gain weight from alcohol consumption, it’s not inevitable.
The Link Between Binge Drinking and Obesity
Unfortunately, many people still see obesity as a failure of willpower, as overconsumption of calories with no control; this is the same as what many people believe about alcoholism. Both obesity and alcoholism have now been shown to have strong environmental and genetic links, known as diseases that can’t always be kept under control.
Both of these conditions are similar in the way that they both see the sufferer experience loss of control over certain time periods. It’s very difficult for someone in this situation to regain control and manage their guilt whilst they attempt to subside their intense cravings for food or alcohol intake. Both alcoholism and obesity have the potential to become very severe health issues, even fatal in some cases.
More studies are discovering similar findings in our brain’s pathway which lead to overeating as well as a dependence on alcohol. These have shown that both alcoholism and obesity are linked to the brain’s reward system, overeating can trigger a gradual increase in the reward which leads to eating more high-fat food or consuming even more alcohol to satisfy these cravings.
This research indicates that whilst we have a lot to learn about the link between binge drinking and obesity, there certainly is a link between these two serious health problems.
Health Problems Associated with Alcohol Consumption
In addition to the link between alcohol consumption and obesity, excessive drinking increases the risk of experiencing other serious health problems. Alcoholic consumption can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, increased triglycerides, stroke, and some cancers. Some people who are struggling with alcohol addiction may also suffer from bloodshot eyes, a pale or gaunt appearance, skin sores, and shakes.
Not only does excessive alcohol intake damage your physical health, but it also has a detrimental effect on your psychological health. Common symptoms of alcohol addiction include increased depression and anxiety, high-stress levels, loneliness, paranoia, low self-esteem, bipolarity, lack of interest in socialising with others, and a lack of self-hygiene.
Alcohol’s Effect on Food Intake
Some people believe that alcohol consumption increases your appetite and is linked to excessive eating, thus gaining weight. The type of alcohol that is found within alcoholic drinks is Ethanol, this type of alcohol has approximately the same number of calories in it that fat from foods does.
In some cases, people who are struggling with alcohol addiction often appear underweight or even malnourished as they tend to replace their food calories with calories from alcohol, or they find comfort in cigarettes or drugs as a replacement to food.
Some studies have shown that people who regularly consume alcoholic drinks in small amounts with the greatest frequency, actually had a lower body mass index when compared with those who drank less regularly but in larger amounts. This may indicate a connection between binge drinking and overeating which could lead to obesity.
How to get Help for Binge Drinking
If you’re struggling to overcome your alcohol addiction or binge drinking problem, then we urge you to get in touch with a professional rehabilitation centre. The longer you leave these issues untreated, the worse they will get, potentially leaving you with life-altering damage. Make the right decision for yourself and your loved ones today by starting your road to recovery with Addiction Advocates.
-  The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) - https://fare.org.au/