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Metabolism of Alcohol

Metabolism of AlcoholWhat’s your alcoholic beverage of choice? Holiday parties are right around the corner and I bet you are wondering, what’s the best choice that won’t pack on extra pounds. It’s obvious that moderation is the most important concept, but I’d like to provide you with some important knowledge so you can make educated decisions.

High Alcohol Consumption = Fat
First, we must briefly discuss alcohol metabolism. Alcohol breaks down differently from any other calorie containing nutrient. Other nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins and fats break down in your mouth, stomach and small intestine respectively. Alcohol goes directly from your mouth to your stomach into your blood stream. From there we feel the effects on the entire body. Meanwhile, your liver is working so hard trying to metabolize the alcohol that it suppresses glucose (sugar) production. While your body is trying to use up all the alcohol circulating in the blood, carbohydrates and fats are also being suppressed, causing a surplus of these macronutrients. This causes fat to be produced and deposited throughout the body’s tissues. This is what makes you fat.

High Sugar Consumption = Fat
Now that we are clear on what alcohol does to your waistline, we must mention that alcohol itself does not actually turn to sugar (it’s broken down to CO2 and H2O). This is good news except that there are many beverages that contain lots of sugar. We all know that a high sugar content is deadly for your weight and stores as fat in your body. Some drinks contain higher sugar content than alcohol content, like wine, beer, wine coolers and crazy colored mixed drinks (you all know the ones).

Alcohol is fermented from carbohydrates (both starches and sugars). Drinks differ in the amount of alcohol and carbohydrates that they contain. For example, beer is about 3-4% alcohol, wines are about 7-15% alcohol, and rum, gin, vodka and tequila are about 40-50% alcohol. You can pretty much assume that the higher the alcohol content the lower the carbohydrates/sugars.

The best choices for your waistline are vodka, tequila and even whiskey because they all have a zero sugar content. Of course you have to only drink in moderation and take into consideration what you are mixing with the alcohol. Juice and soda are killers on the calories and sugars. I discourage diet drinks too because they are artificial and can still raise your insulin levels. That’s why the old rule of thumb, “the simpler the better” is a good one to follow while your drinking. Try to stick with drinks that are one of the above alcohols and very few other ingredients. You can use lots of fresh lemon and lime juice as a natural, low sugar ingredient.

Bottom Line:
We all know that the best way to drink is not at all and of course the second best way to drink is in moderation. However, since most of us enjoy a glass of spirits try to stick to a drink with the lowest sugar content and the fewest ingredients, just like your food choices. For example, the average pina colada has 644 calories. Hard alcohols are a cleaner lower calorie drink than beer and wine. Beer and wine have higher sugar content, therefore store more fat. Also, an indulgence in sugar itself can cause hangovers. So pairing those effects with the aftermath of too many cocktails can really ruin your day. Like most other topics we teach to you, keep it simple. Your body will be happier.


Clean, Low-Sugar Alcoholic Drinks:

We’ve all heard of a Skinny Girl Margarita. Here’s a simple version:

  • 2oz premium Tequila
  • Mineral water
  • 4+ fresh squeezed lime wedges
  • Splash or lemonade or limeade (natural)


  • 1/2 fresh watermelon
  • ice
  • Handful of fresh mint and basil
  • Whole Limes
  • Premium Tequila
  • Coconut water (optional- but a great hydrator)
  • Spicy chili pepper salt
  • Mineral water

Blend the watermelon, ice, mint and basil in blender. Add tequila, splash of coconut water and mineral water. Blend together. Line the rim of the glass with lime juice and dip into plate of the spicy chile pepper. Pour beverage into glass, enjoy.

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