When you drink alcohol, your body essentially puts all other foods you’ve consumed on the back-burner, and devotes itself to metabolising the alcohol consumed first. This is because unlike carbs, protein, and fat, your body isn’t equipped with a storage capacity for alcohol, so when you have a drink, your body must prioritise its metabolism immediately and remove it from your body. This process happens over a 4-6 hour period for a standard drink and can take much, much longer the more alcohol you consume.
You may have heard at some point that alcohol can actually increase your metabolism and therefore concluded that a glass of alcohol every now and then while trying to lose weight is okay. You may have been lead to believe this because alcohol is metabolised via a complex process called the citric acid cycle. During this process, your body has to work harder than it normally would, which is why the metabolism of alcohol may encourage your body to burn more calories, rather than slow your metabolism, therefore leading you to believe it increases your metabolism however, this assumption doesn’t take into other factors such as what you may have eaten along with your glass of alcohol….
As stated above, alcohol metabolism is prioritised, which means during the time it takes to eliminate the alcohol from your system, fat and glucose metabolism are diminished. In fact, alcohol suppresses fat utilisation by 87%. When glucose is added to the fat and alcohol, fat utilisation drops to nearly zero for 90 minutes and averages 79% suppression over hour hours from ingestion. This metabolism phenomenon is known as oxidative priority.
Lets put this into practical terms…When your at the dinner party consuming your glass of wine along with glorious fresh gluten-free ciabatta and basil infused olive oil. Almost immediately upon ingestion, the wine (alcohol) becomes the top priority and combined with the glucose rise from the flour in the bread, your fat metabolism plummets. The fat in the olive oil rushes through your blood plasma to be stored away for later. Not only did your body add to its fat storage, it also suppressed the fat it would have burnt had the alcohol not been consumed.
My tip: It’s best to drink alcohol on its own, without any food. If possible, drink alcohol on an empty stomach and wait at least 4 hours before consuming food.
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