Whoa! It’s July already – and that means that in just under one month, college kids will be back to hitting it hard. And I DON’T mean the books!
We’ve all heard of (and probably experienced) the freshman 15. But is gaining weight in college inevitable? It doesn’t have to be. This topic is first and foremost on the minds of the 18+ year-old kids that I work with. When we discuss this, the conversation typically leads to an in-depth look at alcohol and the role that it plays on weight. SO, since most of you out there probably engage in a cocktail or two (or 10) from time to time, let’s take a little looksie. 😯 Here goes. You scared? (I know I am!) 😉
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As I’ve pointed out in previous blogs, alcohol is the first thing your body burns. Even before those carbs! So after a meal, your body will first go to the carbohydrates for its fuel source, and to your fat stores last. If you drink alcohol, well that moves to the front of the line, postponing any of that fun fat burning. However, since the alcohol does not store as glycogen (a readily usable fuel source), you immediately go back to your previous state after the alcohol is used up. So if you’re eating low carb and you happen to be in ketosis (this is when your body uses fat for energy instead of carbs because you are THAT low on carbs), you will return to that state.
Another thing to note, alcohol is metabolized by the liver, where enzymes break down the alcohol. Your liver plays a crucial role in metabolism. When metabolizing fat, your liver cells break down fat to be used for energy. If your liver is busy metabolizing alcohol, it is not breaking down fat – and therefore, it is STORING that fat.
So what does all of this mean? It means that drinking definitely plays a role in slowing down metabolism. It also means that while it’s being processed by your body, you are NOT burning fat. So what do I tell my college-age clients OR people who are hoping to manage their weight while enjoying cocktails? I will never TELL someone to drink. ESPECIALLY someone under 21. However, it is happening regardless of whether or not I am condoning it. I feel that I can use this opportunity to hopefully impact coeds to make better choices, even if motivated by vanity. Health is what we’re after!
If someone is eating pretty clean, then an occasional drink will not throw them off. Avoid what is ADDED to drinks! Any mixers that contain sugar (orange or cranberry juice, soda) will only add calories/MORE for your body to burn. Use lemon or lime wedges or tonic, if you need to add something.
GO EASY! If you know you’re going to be going out drinking, eat lighter that day (avoid processed foods and starchy carbs) so that you only need ONE DRINK (or two at the most) to feel the buzz. If you are going to drink, try to plan a night out dancing (like going to see Run Avril Run 😎 ) Any physical activity you do will burn up that alcohol ASAP, getting you back to your normal state – AND you’ll avoid a hangover. MAKE SURE YOU KNOW, that when you drink, you will absolutely be more inclined to EAT! Cake looks more delicious after vodka, I’m just telling you! Be prepared! Don’t have bad food around and you won’t be inclined to indulge.
So that’s it! Enjoy your cocktails, be responsible, keep active and don’t pig out – and all is good!