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I whined as my trainer told me years ago that I needed to quit drinking to get truly fit. I was an overweight, party-girl who smoked cigarettes and drank like a fish.
He responded with a mantra I urge you to consider: “Suck it up, buttercup.”
Because as a grown, fully capable young adult who could do pretty much anything for one month if I really wanted to, especially if it meant that I would probably lose 10 pounds of fat, gain a few pounds of muscle, and look infinitely better in both my new skinny-girl clothes as well as naked, I did indeed suck it up. I swore off the sauce for 30 days.
Why will completely taking alcohol out of your life’s equation make you healthier, hotter, and…well, like WAY healthier and WAY hotter? Two main reasons: 1) consuming alcohol makes you hold onto fatty tissue as if you were slathering lard all over your thighs, and 2) alcohol not only inhibits muscle growth, but can even break down hard-earned muscle tissue. So what goes on inside your body that causes all of these unspeakable horrors?
The average drink is made up of carbs, sugar, and ethanol (pure alcohol). Once you take a swig and the drink enters your stomach, some of the alcohol is absorbed into the stomach lining and your bloodstream which is what gives you your initial buzz. The carbs and sugar are digested normally, while the ethanol, a toxin is diverted to the liver, where it starts putting a big old nasty barricade in front of your fat-burning train.
Acetate, the by-product of ethanol digestion, has no nutritional value, so it’s digested first and puts all fat as fuel on the back burner. And that burner isn’t on high, it isn’t on low, it’s not even on. It’s ice-cold, baby.
“Whole-body lipid oxidization”, a fancy term for the rate at which your body burns fat, will decrease by SEVENTY-THREE PERCENT after consumption of alcohol, and can be triggered to slow by a mere 24 ounces of sauce. Holy crow!
But wait! It gets worse! Because your body is so concerned with using up all the acetate, that means that any other calories you may find yourself munching on (chips? guacamole? a Dick’s burger?) will likely be stored as fat as well. And the more fattening foods you eat, the easier the calories are to store. Yikes!
So alcohol turns your body into a fat-sponge. Well, at least you’re lifting weights, so your muscle tissue is all good, right? …right??!?
Wrong. After boozing, your body significantly increases the production of cortisol (a hormone which attacks and breaks down muscle tissue) for up to 24 hours! Additionally, alcohol slows down protein synthesis by 20 percent! (This is the process where amino acids are joined together to form complete proteins.) This, combined with the increased production of muscle-deteriorating cortisol that’s flooding your body, means that you can practically feel each swig whittling away at all the hard work you’ve just done in the gym.
Okay, so hopefully I’ve scared you at least slightly straight. But I’m not expecting you to become a tee-totaler who will never again enjoy a nice glass of wine with dinner or a lager with friends. But if you’re serious about your fitness goals, determined to get toned and trim this year, and want to get on the quickest, healthiest track to pure fitnastiness, I challenge you to swear off booze this month. And suck it up, buttercup.