For many of us, alcohol is often present at various social occasions and is a part of the way we relax, socialise and have fun. Whether we’re dining out, catching up with friends or unwinding after a long day, it is not uncommon to find ourselves with a drink in hand. While many of us may enjoy a glass of wine or a cheeky pint, it’s worth considering the effect alcohol is having on your health, weight and the impact it has on BMI (body mass index). Here are a few things you may not know about alcohol that can have an effect on your health, BMI and your weight loss goals.
Alcoholic drinks are high in energy
Alcohol is often referred to as ‘empty kilojoules’ as it contains more kilojoules per gram than protein and carbohydrate and doesn’t provide any essential nutrients. So it’s easy to unknowingly add extra kilojoules when you’re drinking, especially when the drinks start to add up across the night. Cutting down on your alcoholic beverages can help to reduce your overall energy, or kilojoule intake, which can in turn help with weight loss and decrease your BMI.
Drinking alcohol increases your appetite
Alcohol tends to be served with snacks or finger foods that are high in fat and kilojoules, and you may find that as the night progresses, so too does your snacking. This can happen as you naturally get hungrier throughout the evening, and alcohol will act to increase your hunger, especially if you haven’t had a proper meal. Alcohol will also lower your inhibitions, meaning you’ll make more impulsive decisions and be less able to resist that bowl of chips. This extra snacking can impact your weight and BMI. If you are planning on having a few drinks with some nibbles, try to avoid drinking on an empty stomach as a full stomach with reduce the rate of alcohol absorption, and you’ll be less likely to mindlessly eat.
Alcohol impacts your sleep quality
While it may be easier to fall asleep after having a drink, your evening night cap may be impacting your sleep and energy levels. This is because alcohol disturbs rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the restorative part of the sleep cycle that allows you to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to go. If you do find you’re waking up in the middle of the night, try to avoid having alcohol before bed and see how this affects your sleep quality and energy levels.
If you’re a regular drinker, or you’re concerned alcohol may be affecting your weight loss and BMI and would like to reduce your intake, here are some simple tips to cut back:
- Set yourself a limit at the start of the night and stick to it!
- Alternate alcoholic drinks with a glass of water as this will help to slow you down and reduce the amount you drink.
- Avoid topping drinks up as it will be easier to lose count of how many drinks you’ve had.
- Nominate yourself as the designated driver if you’d prefer to avoid drinking altogether.
- Find social activities that don’t involve alcohol. Why not catch up with friends for a walk or go to a café for a coffee instead?