One of the perks of adulthood is the ability to enjoy delightful libations any time you want.
Whether you’re the the life of the party, meeting coworkers for happy hour, or pairing wine with your favorite Mediterranean inspired dishes, everyone seems to have a little more fun with a cocktail or adult beverage in hand.
There’s plenty of information out there about the effects of alcohol on our health. Sure, we know that drinking in excess is going to cause serious health problems, but a glass of red wine here and there is good for you, right?
Well, hang on a minute.
Now, I’m not saying you can’t have a drink during holidays and celebrations, but if you’re a daily indulger, you may want to reconsider what you’re doing to your body.
Hangovers aside, here are 9 amazing things that happen when you stop drinking alcohol.
You’ll Lose Weight
One of the most immediate and arguably best reasons to stop drinking is weight loss. There are three big explanations for why you’ll start losing weight when you stop drinking.
First, alcohol is entirely made of empty calories, which means those calories don’t work for you like a complex carb that gives you sustained energy.
If you never thought about the liquid calories you’re drinking, take a look at these numbers:
- Standard can of beer: 154 calories
- Glass of white wine: 128 calories
- Martini: 295 calories
- Jack and Coke: 308 calories
If you stop drinking that martini during happy hour, you’ll save close to 300 calories each day, or 1,500 calories each work week!
See how quickly those calories add up? And that’s just from cutting one drink every weekday.
Here’s another thought: Have you ever noticed that you crave unhealthy fatty foods when you’re drinking?
Alcohol subdues our will power and makes us want foods we wouldn’t normally eat because our inhibitions are lowered. But here’s the worst part (yes, it gets worse!): when we drink alcohol, our body prioritizes digesting that toxin before anything else.
So if you’re enjoying that terrible fast food with your alcohol, those proteins, carbs, and fats are just going to sit there until all of the alcohol is burned off first.
If you keep drinking, your body stores all of your calories from food as fat. And those foods aren’t exactly low calorie to begin with, so think about all that fat accumulating in your belly and love handles.
When you stop drinking alcohol, you save calories, crave real food instead of junk food, and let your digestive system do its job by metabolizing food instead of alcohol.
2. Reduce Cholesterol
Alcohol doesn’t contain cholesterol, but you may find cholesterol in whatever you’re mixing your alcohol with.
Trendy alcohols such as cotton candy flavored vodka contain sugar. Beer contains carbs. Both carbs and sugar may raise triglyceride levels and lead to heart disease.
During one study, mice were given the equivalent of two drinks per day while other mice were given the equivalent of a weekend binge session (seven drinks twice a week).
“Levels of LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol plummeted 40 percent in the daily-moderate drinking mice, but rose 20 percent in the weekend-binge drinking mice”.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol collects in the plaque that builds up inside your arteries leading to atherosclerosis.
On top of this harmful rise, the binge drinking mice gained “more than three times as much weight” as the moderate drinkers.
Even though studies have shown that drinking may raise HDL, or “good” cholesterol levels, this rise in LDL levels and tendency towards obesity wipes out all that good.
“Binge drinkers may have increased risk of developing atherosclerosis…[and] because obesity is also a risk factor for disease, binge drinking may have a strong negative impact on cardiovascular health”.
Of course, if you stop drinking and follow a heart-healthy eating plan like the DASH diet, you’ll be able to keep your cholesterol levels in check and reduce your risks for atherosclerosis and heart disease.
You’ll also be better able to keep your blood sugar levels stable and keep the risk of diabetes far away.
3. Control Your Blood Sugar
Remember how we talked about the way your body processes alcohol before food?
Well, our bodies also stop maintaining our blood sugar levels when alcohol enters our systems.
“Studies have shown that alcohol interferes with all three sources of glucose and the hormones needed to maintain healthy blood glucose levels”.
Drinking alcohol decreases the effectiveness of the insulin in your body, which means your blood sugar levels go haywire, leading to insulin resistance and diabetes.
According to one study: “45% to 70% of people with alcoholic liver disease had either glucose intolerance or diabetes”.
So it almost goes without saying, but if you cut out all alcohol, you let your body regulate your blood sugar properly and stop putting yourself at risk for insulin resistance.
4. Sleep Better
Most people believe that alcohol makes you fall asleep faster because it makes you drowsy. But they’re probably confusing that with passing out after a night of partying.
According to one study, when participants drank a cocktail of orange juice and vodka before bed, they showed more slow wave sleep patterns and “delta activity”, which is the kind of deep, restorative sleep that lets the brain clear out waste, firm up memories, and allow the neurons to recharge.
That sounds positive, right?
Don’t get so excited yet.
Researchers also observed that the participants had higher alpha wave patterns and that’s not something you see during normal sleep. “Alpha activity tends to occur when the brain is awake but quietly resting, in metabolic break mode”.
By having both alpha and delta waves together, the participants experienced disrupted sleep that ruined any restoration the brain was hoping to achieve.
“Additionally, alcohol is a diuretic, which increases your need to go the bathroom and causes you to wake up earlier in the morning”.
If you’re not waking up to use the restroom, you’re probably waking up from the vivid nightmares. Yeah, you’re not the only one who experiences intense dreams after a night of indulgence.
“With alcohol in your system, you’re more likely to have intense, colorful dreams and nightmares. There’s also a chance you’ll act out your dreams in your sleep or even sleepwalk”.
There’s also research that shows alcohol decreases your melatonin levels.
Melatonin is the hormone that regulates your body’s internal clock and helps promote sleepiness so you follow a restful rhythm. Mess this up by drinking every day and you may suffer from chronic insomnia and have trouble falling or staying asleep.
If you think you’re suffering from horrible hangovers, you may just be extra tired and sleep deprived.
After a night of insomnia, you’ll likely feel:
- Extreme fatigue the following day
- Irritability, anxiety, or even depression
- The onset of tension headaches
- More insomniatic
And if you stop drinking alcohol, you won’t have to face any of these issues. You’ll be able to fall into a deep, restorative sleep that lets your body prepare to tackle the next day’s stress with ease.
You’ll even enjoy feeling our next benefit…
5. Enhance Your Brainpower
Those fighting alpha and delta waves in the brain that cause restless sleep will definitely leave you feeling drowsy, unfocused, and tired the following day.
You may have chalked up your trouble concentrating at work to a simple hangover, but alcohol does a lot more damage to our brains than that.
“Heavy alcohol consumption—even on a single occasion—can throw the delicate balance of neurotransmitters [in your brain] off course”.
Alcohol can delay and disrupt the way neurotransmitters work so we feel groggy, agitated, and prone to forgetfulness.
“Alcohol’s most significant impact, however, is on the frontal and temporal lobes — areas of the brain critical to learning, impulse control, and other complicated human behaviors”.
New research suggests that “humans who have a few heavy drinking sessions in a row may sometimes undergo subtle brain changes which make it harder to learn from mistakes and to learn new ways of tackling problems because their brain function has been subtly impaired”.
However, staying away from alcohol for several months to a year may allow that structural brain damage to partially correct itself and help “reverse negative effects on thinking skills, including problem-solving, memory, and attention”.
So when you stop drinking, you’ll feel clearheaded and alert. Plus, you won’t forget to pick up the eggs on your way home from work (again!).
PS: If you want more ways to boost your recall, check out these 8 delicious foods to improve your memory.
6. Gain and Rebuild that Muscle
If you think unwinding with a drink after work feels good, think about that session you put in at the gym earlier that morning instead.
Are you thinking about all those strenuous reps you agonized through?
Now I’m going to tell you that drinking alcohol pretty much ruins all that muscle-building hard work.
Research from one study on rats showed that alcohol impaired the synthesis of protein and disrupted the building of new muscle. When the rats consumed more alcohol, their lean body mass and muscle weight both decreased.
Scientists from another study found out that “alcohol decreased the production of human growth hormone, a key part of the muscle repair and growth process, by up to 70%”.
According to Men’s Fitness, alcohol will also make you feel more sore after your workouts and create higher levels of “creatine kinase, an enzyme that signals tissue damage”.
So let me get this straight: alcohol will not only decrease the muscle in your body, but it will actually hurt more for you to build it back up at a snail’s pace?
All of that is reason enough for me. Even the best whey protein shakes can’t undo those issues.
Drop the alcohol and make your workouts count again— your muscles will thank you and you’ll be feeling hotter than ever.
Speaking of which…
7. Look Sexier
Alcohol’s a diuretic, right? So it makes sense that alcohol zaps all the water from the largest organ we have: our skin.
Drinking alcohol will give you tight, dry skin that may look red and puffy. Not the best skin to have on a first date night.
Ready for more bad news? When your skin is dry, you become much more likely to develop wrinkles. Eek!
When your body’s too busy processing the alcohol in your system, it stops absorbing key skin loving vitamins such as vitamin A and vitamin C, which help dull, dead skin cells, slough off and replace them with shiny, fresh, youthful looking ones.
Replace that alcohol with uber healthy and incredible water and you’ll have supple, taut, wrinkle-free skin that glows from within.
Your skin’s not the only benefactor of your alcohol abstinence; let’s talk about how alcohol affects your hair.
If drinking dehydrates your skin, you can bet it will do the same for your tresses. The result: dry, brittle hair that’s prone to breakage and ugly split ends.
So far ditching alcohol will give you a boost to your weight loss, lean muscles, a fresh face, and shiny, healthy hair.
8. Boost Your Immunity
Our immune systems keep sickness at bay, but they also fight off invaders once they breach our bodies and start to attack.
You could say our immune system is part defense and part offense. The trouble is, alcohol suppresses both of those immunity responses.
Ever notice how you feel under the weather after a weekend of drinking?
It’s not just a hangover; all of that alcohol makes you more susceptible to germs and illness. On top of that, your body is unprepared to fight off the germy invaders now inside wreaking havoc.
I know it’s hard to resist drinking spiced eggnog and warm hot toddies during the holidays, but that’s prime cold and flu season. If you’re one of those people who always seems to catch a cold before anyone else does, do yourself a favor and stay away from the holiday libations.
9. Increase Your Fertility
Even though men may be more in the mood, alcohol doesn’t do men any favors in the bedroom.
“Studies show that men who are dependent on alcohol have a 60 to 70 percent chance of suffering from sexual problems”.
Many men experience erectile dysfunction and have trouble maintaining an erection after a few drinks. Alcohol also inhibits hormone production and dulls sensations, making it harder to stay aroused and orgasm.
That will definitely make conception a bit difficult.
But it’s not just men who need to lay off the booze for babymaking.
“Excessive drinking can cause a woman to stop menstruating and become infertile”.
When healthy women in one study drank fewer than five drinks per week, they decreased their odds of conception to just 61%. When women drank 10 or more drinks a week their odds of conceiving were a mere 34%.
If you want to welcome a bundle of joy into your world, lay off the alcohol.
Listen, I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer and tell you that you’re not allowed to drink alcohol and have fun anymore. But the truth is that the “fun” of alcohol may not be enough to justify all the amazing health benefits you’ll enjoy when you stop drinking.
From weight loss, muscle building, and healthy, glowing skin to improved sleep and brain function, I can’t imagine many parties or glasses of wine that offer anything close.
If you roll with a crowd that always seems to be popping bottles around you, share this article with them and make a pact to avoid booze together. You’ll be one sexy, healthy crew!
Which of these amazing benefits swayed you to ditch alcohol the most? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
The post 9 Amazing Things That Happen When You Stop Drinking Alcohol appeared first on Nutrition Secrets.http://www.nutritionsecrets.com/what-happens-when-you-stop-alcohol/