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The Link Between Alcohol and Weight Gain

A close up of a man holding a beer and wearing a shirt that barely covers his big belly.
Alcohol offers a quick way to pack on extra pounds.

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Heavy alcohol use has so many negative side effects, ranging from a risk of addiction to liver failure. But what many people fear most is developing the dreaded beer belly.

So does alcohol really cause weight gain?

The answer is complicated. But the short answer is that people who drink moderately often weigh less than non-drinkers, but heavy drinking is often associated with weight gain.

Let’s take a closer look.

Alcohol and Weight Gain Metabolism

Some studies indicate that moderate drinking can actually be a slight boost to metabolism. One study published in the International Journal of Obesity divided overweight and obese adults into two groups.

One group ate a reduced-calorie diet with 10 percent of calories from grape juice, while the other group ate the same diet, but with 10 percent of calories from white wine. Both groups lost significant amounts of weight, but the white wine drinkers lost slightly more than the grape juice group.

In a separate study, researchers looked at six years worth of data for 8,000 people. It found that those who drank moderately were less likely to become obese than those who didn’t drink at all.

One theory is that those who drink moderately view wine, beer or a mixed drink as their “treat” and are less likely to eat chips, ice cream or cookies. Given that a five-ounce glass of chardonnay contains about 120 calories and a serving of potato chips has about 150 calories, you can see how that that could be true – especially since few of us ever eat just 13 potato chips.

It’s also true, however, that many people don’t stop at one glass of wine or beer. And that’s when the pounds can start to accumulate. The findings from the December 2005 BMC Public Health analysis showed that drinking four or more alcoholic beverages per day was more likely to lead to obesity than moderate drinking. The same was also true for those who may not drink every day but drink heavily on regular occasions.

Alcohol Weight Gain and Addiction

As undesirable as a spare tire can be, it’s not the real risk. The danger of heavy drinking is that it can lead to addiction. Here are a few things to look out for:

  • You cannot quit drinking or control how much you drink.
  • You have to drink more to get the same effect.
  • You crave alcohol and suffer withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment in Colorado

If you can’t control your drinking, it may be time to seek help. Over time, alcohol can change the brain, making it difficult, if not impossible, for some people to stop drinking without help.

At The Raleigh House, we take a whole-person approach to recovery. That means we don’t just get the alcohol out of your system. We work with you to help you recover psychologically, mentally, spiritually and socially as well. Rehab isn’t just about giving something up; it’s about getting your life back. Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about the alcohol addiction treatment program at The Raleigh House.

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