How does alcohol affect BMI?

The World Health Organization believes that obesity has become an increasingly severe problem since the 1970s. That is especially true for people living in the western world. There has been a large number of studies conducted in recent years.

Alcohol and BMI

Researchers at various institutes and research facilities have written papers over how alcohol affects a person’s weight and BMI. Several of these studies show an association between overweight and obesity as a result of excessive alcohol consumption. Still, some other reviews do not draw these conclusions. There is no clear evidence yet for either side, other than for beer.

Interaction factors

What comes back as a result of studies is that several different elements work together as the cause of individuals’ overweight. Some of these are DNA inheritance, social situation, and lifestyle. Alcohol consumption as a way to unwind from everyday stress is increasing and has become a global phenomenon.

That overconsumption can lead to increased weight if not compensated by, for example, reduced food intake or added physical activity. Researchers have also proved in many studies that a certain amount of alcohol consumed over a short period causes an individual to gain weight. The same is not valid if the same amount is consumed over an extended period.

Carbohydrates are energy

Alcohol contains about 7.1 kcal per gram and should be regarded as a source of energy, in the same way as everything else a person eats or drinks. Many people are unaware that alcohol contains substances that are converted into carbohydrates in the body. When carbohydrates are broken down, they transform into various types of sugars in varying amounts. Beer contains a higher quantity of energy compared to purer types of alcoholic beverages. When the pure spirits mix with soft drinks, the energy value increases.

Alcohol gives rise to hunger

Not only does the energy content of alcoholic beverages cause weight gain, but alcohol can also affect BMI through increased appetite. Beer with a glycemic index of around 110 gives the body fast carbohydrates. The body counteracts this with the production of insulin, whereby the cells convert the sugars into fat.

When intoxicated, chemical processes begin in the body, which causes a feeling of hunger. Many people probably recognize themselves in this, as the craving comes when drunk. Often it can be a hamburger in a restaurant on the way home from the party, a pizza with extra toppings, or a night snack on arrival at home. The body’s priority when consuming solid food and concurrent alcohol is first to burn the alcohol. The solid food has to wait and is then consequently stored as fat.

Stop drinking alcohol – lose weight

There are ways to reduce BMI by relatively simple means. Among other things, reduced alcohol intake can give double the effect. If you then start eating more healthy, you will receive additional benefits. Depending on the type of alcoholic beverage consumed, how much, and how often you drink, the alcohol will affect BMI in different ways.

The burning process of alcohol in the body requires fluid, which is evident at the next day’s awakening, where you often feel thirsty. The subsequent “compulsory” headache is likely due to dehydration. Drink with reason, consume a glass of water in between; there is a reason for such advice.

Alcohol and calories

In general, the sweeter the beverage of beer, wine, or drink mix, the more calories.

Different makes and types of beer do not necessarily contain the same amount of calories. The estimated average is shown in the table below.

Type of drink kcal / 10 cl kcal / 50 cl
Beer 2,3 % 28 140
Beer 3,5 % 38 190
Beer 5,6 % 48 240
Cider 4,5 % 54 270
Red wine 12 % 73 365
White wine 12 % 68 340
Whiskey 40 % 220 1100
Gin & Tonic 400 2000

An average person, male or female, needs around 2000 to 2500 calories a day. We can see here that an increased energy supplement in the form of alcoholic beverages can significantly increase the total calorie intake.

Where do these calories go? We believe they end up on your waistline and your hips.

More can be read about BMI here. There is constant research into how alcohol affects the body and BMI. At the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), you can read a research article on alcohol and obesity.