Success at maintaining a healthy body weight for life requires adopting new behavior changes that evolve into new habits. These new habits become your new norm and way of living. Many variables impact the rate of success on your health and wellness journey. The primary culprits that cause weight gain are the same for most people. It starts with knowing what your body needs and what to avoid or severely restrict with your nutrition. When it comes to sustaining a healthy body weight while looking and feeling your best, remember to keep your A-S-S low. Let’s take a closer look at how alcohol, sugar, and sodium affect our health and well-being.
Alcohol is among the most widely abused recreational drugs globally, and contains three classes: beer, wine, and spirits. Alcohol is produced through the fermentation process of grains, fruits, or other sources of sugar. Alcohol is a depressant that belongs to a class of drugs that affects the central nervous system by lowering neurotransmission levels and reducing coordination and concentration. An occasional adult beverage helps people relax, reduces anxiety levels, and increases sociability.
Studies show that consuming alcohol in moderation has no severe side effects for most people, and even has some health benefits. However, moderate drinking - one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men is one serving of 12 ounces of regular beer, which is usually about 5% alcohol, 5 ounces of wine, which is typically about 12% alcohol, and 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, which is about 40% alcohol. Many people exceed these numbers during social outings each week.
From a nutritional standpoint, alcohol has seven calories per gram, almost twice as much as carbohydrates and protein at four calories per gram. However, the body treats alcohol as fat by converting alcohol sugars into fatty acids, leading to increased fat storage. Alcohol is devoid of proteins, minerals, and vitamins and inhibits the absorption of other vital nutrients, including b-vitamins, folic acid, and zinc.
Millions of people consume thousands of extra calories per year in alcoholic beverages. The high number of additional calories from alcohol wreaks havoc on our physiques. Aside from the extra calories, alcohol negatively impacts our bodies in many other ways.
Alcohol inhibits memory and the ability to learn new information because it compromises the hippocampus, the part of the brain vital to memory formation. Alcohol disrupts the sequence and duration of a normal sleep cycle, and much of our memory occurs during sleep. Sleep is essential for muscle recovery and repair from your workouts. Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is a vital chemical to building bigger and stronger muscles, and your body produces HGH naturally during sleep. Alcohol can decrease the secretion of HGH by as much as 70%.
Alcohol negatively impacts muscle growth by suppressing muscle protein synthesis, responsible for the body’s ability to build muscle. Alcohol is a toxin that travels to every organ and tissue in your body, which causes dehydration; therefore, it’s essential to drink water along with your alcoholic beverage.
Alcohol depletes your energy levels by altering the water balance in muscle cells by disrupting the body’s ability to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the primary source of energy for most cellular processes, including muscle contraction.
The effects of alcohol consumption can linger in the body for days. Consuming five or more alcoholic beverages in one night can affect brain and body activities for up to 3 days. Consume five or more alcoholic drinks for two consecutive nights (hello weekend), and your brain and body can be adversely affected for up to 5 days.
Excessive, long-term use can lead to cancer, physical dependence, and alcoholism – now known as alcohol use disorder. In this condition, a person has a physical need or strong desire to consume alcohol, despite the negative impact on their life.
Controlling the amount and frequency of alcoholic beverages is the best way to minimize the adverse effects and excess calories from alcohol. As a wellness coach, I feel people are better off without consuming alcohol or limiting drinking to a handful of times a year.
For those of us who drink alcohol on a more frequent basis, and I’m in this category, limit your drinking to the recommended moderate levels, drink alcohol no more than 2-3 times a week, and avoid drinking on consecutive days in a row, which can be a challenge for the ritual weekend drinker. Remember that alcohol is a drug, and we always want to maintain control of our drinking patterns. Staying alcohol-free several weeks at a time, for two or three times a year, helps ensure that you’re always in complete control of alcohol.
Sugar is among the most addictive substances on earth, with studies showing it to be more addictive than cocaine. Research demonstrates that sugar can stimulate the brain’s reward processing center in a manner that mimics other recreational drugs.
With regards to our nutrition, high sugar intake is among the most harmful eating habits. Consuming too much added sugar – the sugar manufacturers add to foods and drinks to increase flavor and sweetness - causes the extra insulin in your bloodstream to harm your arterial walls through increased inflammation. The artery walls becoming stiffer, grow thicker than normal, and the added stress can damage your heart, leading to heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes over time.
Added sugars are in sodas, fruit drinks, cakes, candy, cereal, cookies, and flavored yogurts. Excessive amounts of sugar are in many highly processed foods, such as soups, cured meats, salad dressings, ketchup, bread, and baked goods. You can learn how to limit sugar intake in your diet and reduce sugar cravings with the KK Wellness Consulting 30-Day Sugar Slayers Course.
The Cancer-Sugar Link
In a study conducted at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, researchers fed mice diets high in sugar. The amount of sugar given to the mice was comparable to the sucrose levels in a western diet. The mice experienced a higher incidence of breast and lung cancer and increased tumor growth and metastasis when compared to a non-sugar starch diet.
The study infers a diet high in sugar can contribute to the formation of cancer. It also suggests that diet can make a difference in treating a person who has already been diagnosed with cancer. More research is needed to understand the relationship between sugar consumption and cancer.
Sugar and Obesity
Empty calories from excess sugar consumption lead to higher obesity levels. The more sugar we consume, the more weight we’ll gain. This process exacerbates over time because excessive sugar intake inflames fat cells, causing a chemical release that further increases weight.
Sugar worsens joint pain because of the inflammation it causes in the body, and studies show that sugar consumption can increase your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
Excess added sugar in the diet is likely to contain fructose or high fructose corn syrup. Large amounts of fructose can damage the liver because fructose is processed in the liver and transformed into fat. The excess fat built up in the liver can cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Our pancreas releases insulin whenever we eat. Overeating sugar causes your body to stop responding appropriately to insulin, making your pancreas release more insulin than usual. The disruption in pancreas function causes your blood sugar levels to rise and can lead to type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
High levels of sugar in the bloodstream over a long-term basis can make men impotent. Sugar affects the circulatory system, which controls the blood flow throughout our body, and proper blood flow is needed to achieve and maintain an erection.
One hundred years ago, the average person consumed just four pounds of sugar a year. Today, the average person takes in 40 times this amount -- 160 pounds a year.
You can reduce sugar cravings and lower blood sugar levels by adding apple cider vinegar to your daily diet. I start each day off by drinking a 12-once glass of water mixed with one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar as soon as I wake up. Check with your doctor to confirm that dosage levels between 1-2 teaspoons to 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar per day are safe for you.
Eat some fruit every day. Bananas and blueberries are my two favorite fruit choices. Both are healthy, low in calories, contain fiber, taste great, are widely available, and easy to digest. The natural sugar found in fruit helps satisfy sugar cravings. Use stevia to sweeten foods and drinks instead of artificial sweeteners.
Sodium is one of the seven essential minerals, otherwise known as macrominerals. Sodium is a crucial electrolyte for our bodies, working with potassium to maintain proper fluid balance, facilitate nerve transmission, and help muscle contraction. Despite its importance in many critical bodily functions, 90% of Americans get too much sodium. Just one teaspoon of salt, a combination of sodium and chloride, has 2,325 mg of sodium, and the CDC recommends that Americans consume less than 2,300 mg per day! However, the average American consumes over 3,400 mg of sodium per day. Most people get enough sodium from foods without adding extra sodium from table salt, seasonings, marinades, and dressings.
Too much sodium can play havoc with your health. It increases blood pressure because it holds excess fluid in the body, which creates an added burden on the heart. High sodium intake increases your risk of stroke, heart failure, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, and kidney disease.
Excessive amounts of sodium are in many foods, including some healthy options. For example, a ½ cup serving from a leading brand of canned black beans, which has only 100 calories, contains 460 mg of sodium. One egg white – a super clean and healthy protein source – contains just 17 calories but has 55 mg of sodium. Be sure to implement RockaKillenBod Nutrition Principle # 1 at all times – Be Anal Reading Labels. Just like sugar, once your body becomes accustomed to eating less sodium, you miss it less and less over time. You’ll also retain less water on your body and likely see a permanent drop in a few pounds of weight and a reduction in your blood pressure. Use sodium-free seasonings, fresh herbs, spices, and fresh lemon whenever possible to reduce your sodium intake.
Circling the Wagons
There are many aspects to our routine eating habits we can change to look and feel better while improving our health and wellness. However, whatever you do, and wherever you go, perhaps none are as important as remembering to keep your A-S-S low.
ABOUT ROB KILLEN
Rob Killen is a Holistic Wellness Coach, Certified Behavior Change Specialist, Emotional Intelligence Trainer, Personal Trainer, Life Coach, Nutrition Coach, and Career Transitions Coach. Rob has worked for over thirty years working in the health and fitness industry, and his greatest passion is helping people to look and feel better. He works with people from the inside out to change their mindsets, behaviors, and bodies.
Rob holds a Bachelor's Degree in Education from Wayland Baptist University and a Master's Degree in Public Administration from George Mason University. Rob began working out 40 years ago as a fourteen-year-old. A former competitive bodybuilder, Rob won several titles in the 1990s, culminating with winning the middleweight division at the 1994 Mid-USA Championships.
Rob owns and operates Peace Benefits Wellness Coaching, founded the Peace Benefits Dimension of Wellness Model, and is the author of Peace Benefits – A 13-Step Self-Help Wellness Model to Change Your Mindset, Behaviors, and Body for Life.
Rob is the creator of a comprehensive online anti-aging, body sculpting, nutrition, weight loss, and healthy lifestyle video course for men called RockaKillenBod.com. The principles and philosophies shared in the RockaKillenBod.com video course will help men over 40 sculpt their bodies and burn body fat to look and feel at least ten years younger. Rob likes to say: Get older. Look better, which happens to be the title of his next book.
To learn more about emotional intelligence training, coaching, and workout consultation services with Rob, please visit peacebenefits.com.