I know what you are thinking. Finally, an article that can validate your urges to grab cold one so you can knock it down your food pipe as quickly as possible. But I would suggest you hold your horses. Beer has been a very old and prominent tradition that has been going on for a long time. It is loved and enjoyed by billions on the planet. Of course, it is a good choice of beverage for the upcoming day off or for the weekend that’s around the corner. But from a health and fitness point of view, the idea may not seem as lucrative as it would to some. There has been a continuous debate on this subject and very few people decide to brush upon this much talked about subject. Does beer kill your gains? Does beer harm your health? Or does it actually help you be fit and lose fat? Well, if you often find yourself pondering upon the same topic, you have come to the right place. Hope this will clarify your questions for good.
Just like any other alcoholic beverage, when you consume beer, your body decides to prioritize beer first and metabolize it before any other food component. More importantly, the ethanol content gets the most priority. To put it in short, the ethanol content in the beer gets digested first while the negligible protein and majority of carbohydrates are made to wait.
To move further you need to get to understand the metabolization of ethanol. It is something like this –
Ethanol >> Acetaldehyde >> Acetate >> Acetyl CoA
The latter two, that is, Acetate and Acetyl CoA are used as fuel sources for the body but they are pretty bad and expensive sources of fuel when it comes to efficiency, quite similar to protein. Because of this fact, beer has up to 20 percent less impact on the caloric add up in the body than it is usually mentioned. According to data, a gram of beer possesses 7 calories, whereas, in reality, a gram of beer consists of only 5 calories.
In addition to this, just for the relief of beer lovers, beer does NOT make you fat. To simply put it, alcohol is too expensive for the body to convert into fat. It means that it would take a lot more energy to turn alcohol derived calories into fat that the body will get from it. Therefore, the dreadful ‘beer belly’ is not something that is caused by alcohol itself.
The downside to this fact is that when you drink beer, you get acetate and acetyl-CoA in abundance. The amount is quite frankly so high that the body completely shuts down the burning of fats and carbohydrates for the purpose of energy extraction. Eventually, the sugar, carbohydrates, and fats that do not get burned due to the beer you just gulped, get stored as fat. Thus, beer is actually a fat burning suppressor rather than a fat storage catalyst.
Finally! The section you all had been waiting for. There is no denying that beer has its fair share of boons. But the question is where do we draw the line? Here are a few benefits that been found with moderate consumption of beer. Keep in mind that the word ‘moderate’ has a lot of significance here than you would imagine.
1. Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin sensitivity is basically when the body cannot take in sugar from the blood as a result of lack of insulin or insulin’s inability to transport the blood sugar. This results in type 2 diabetes, which is one of the most widespread diseases among people these days. This entire process of the body’s ability to fail in up taking blood sugar is called insulin resistance. Consuming beer at controlled quantities has shown to diminish insulin resistance and thus reduce the chances of succumbing to type 2 diabetes.
2. The Thermic Effect – Burns More Calories
Just like protein, beer also possesses a thermic effect because of the alcohol content in it. The thermic effects can be defined as the process of more energy required by the body to metabolize it as compared to other macronutrients. Therefore, in order to break down the alcohol content of beer, the body burns more calories than usual, for instance, what it would have burned in case of fats or carbohydrates. As a matter of fact, a gram of alcohol should be broken down into 7 calories but the body only receives a little more than 5 calories because the extra calories are used up in breaking down that gram of alcohol.
3. Bone Strengthening
Beer possesses a great amount of silicon, which is crucial for healthy bones. These are various studies conducted for finding out whether beer actually helps in the strengthening of bones and one such study has been especially useful. The study was conducted in 2009 at Tufts University when subjects were given two beers every day to drink and a placebo group was given something else. The group which was given beer was found with higher bone density than the placebo group. But the study stated that the group of people who were drinking more than two beers every day were more prone to bone fractures as compared to their counterparts.
4. Reduces Kidney Stones
Beer is specifically rich in an antioxidant called ‘xanthohumol’. Not only it is proven to shoe strong and significant anti-cancer properties, it also fights off cancer-causing enzymes in the body. Drinking beer at a controlled rate does indeed diminishes the chances of breast cancer development in women and prostate cancer development in men.
5. Protection To The Nervous system
According to a study conducted over the effects of beer on brain health in Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Chicago, beer has been shown to show properties that are protective towards the brain and the nervous system.
The study showed that controlled and moderate beer drinking reduced the chances of succumbing to dementia and Alzheimer’s by a shocking 23 percent. This property in beer has been solely credited to the antioxidant ‘xanthohumol’, which as mentioned earlier, also protects against certain types of cancers.
6. Controls Appetite (Sort of)
I know what may be thinking. It is generally advised to eat something before you indulge in an alcoholic fest. And beer is no different. But, it is also true that consuming beer prior to a meal decreases the hunger drastically. This will lead to less food consumed and thus lesser fat storage. On the contrary, other alcoholic beverages like wine and vodka were shown to increase both appetite and cortisol levels. Cortisol is the stress hormone of the body which is credited with fat storage around the lower abdomen. But again, this a double edged sword. On one hand one beer before a meal will curb the appetite but on the other hand, indulging in an in-house Oktoberfest will lead to an amplified appetite. This eventually gets triggered by increased dopamine levels in the brain. The result would be increased cravings for sugary and fatty foods like cheese induced fast foods.
7. Boosts Cardiovascular Health
Cardiovascular diseases are not a new thing. Diseases like heart attacks, strokes, atherosclerosis, and hypertension are a real thing and are causing deaths in all age groups around the globe. But a beer once in a while may prove to be productive. Beer consumption at moderate levels is considered to be a boon for your cardiovascular health as it reduces the chances of cardiovascular diseases. On the contrary, heavy alcohol drinking will most certainly lead to increased chances of a cardiovascular disease.
We all knew this would be in the article. There are always two sides of a coin and our beloved beer is no exception to this fact. Do not be disheartened.
1. Messes Up Glycogen Uptake
Our bodies break down glucose and convert it into glycogen. Glycogen is our body’s source of energy. During intensive workouts, this stored form of glucose is summoned by the body to fuel its muscles in order to carry out the grueling motions. This process, however, has been proven to be disrupted when alcohol is consumed. Alcohol has been documented to have disrupted the entire process of glycogen uptake as well glycogen replenishment from the food we eat after an intense exercise session. This eventually results in increased muscle fatigue and poor recovery which translates into a further delay in the healing process of torn muscle fibers or micro tears.
2. Suppresses Inflammation
Beer has properties that reduce inflammation in the body. Now, wasn’t inflammation considered bad for our body? It was and still is. But in the case of workouts, post workout inflammation after a hardcore workout session is beneficial as it triggers the body to repair itself and build lean muscle mass. Not only this, but it gets stronger every time this inflammatory response is initiated by the body. Thus, the suppression of inflammation in the body proves to be a bane for muscle growth and strength gains.
3. Detrimental For Fetus Development
You might have thought a little alcohol is not a matter of concern while being pregnant. But this is as far as you can get from the truth. Truth be told, beer, or any form of alcohol for that matter, can prove to be a bane for the healthy development of the fetus. These effects include growth defects, strange behavior of the fetus, and hindrance in the development of intelligence and cognitive functions and various other adverse effects that can remain for the entire life of the unborn child.
4. Cancer Causing
Although beer is not exactly a carcinogen, it still is a precursor to cancer. Cancer needs no introduction. This horrendous disease has claimed lives by the thousands and the count is not finished yet. The cure for cancer is not out yet but you surely can reduce the chances of succumbing to cancer by avoiding certain foods. One of these foods is beer or alcohol for that matter. Studies have been conducted and the results have stated that even consuming one beer every day increases the risk of cancer by 20 percent when compared to someone who does not consume beer at all.
However, we did mention above that beer consumption reduces cancer but it should be kept in mind that that was another form of cancer and cancer we are talking about in this context is mouth cancer.
5. No Testosterone And HGH
Testosterone, probably the most talked about name among bodybuilder and fitness enthusiasts and sports persons. The very foundation of strength and endurance sports and the indispensable pre-requisite for building and maintaining lean muscle mass. It is an androgen produced in the testicles and the adrenal glands. HGH or Human Growth Hormone, on the other hand, is the precursor to the growth of the cells and tissues. It is a protein peptide that is produced in the anterior pituitary gland by the somatotropic cells present in it. Furthermore, HGH paves the way for IGF-1 or Insulin Growth Factor – 1 which is more potent than HGH in terms of cell production, reproduction and regeneration.
Sadly, consumption of beer suppresses the production and uptake of these hormones in the body and thus hinder the process of lean muscle building and maintenance. This is a major concern for endurance and strength athletes as they need muscle mass to support themselves in their respective sports.
6. Reduced Sleep
As if all of the things mentioned above were not enough. Beer has been proved to reduce sleep quality and as a result hinder recovery, muscle repair, healing and a reduced body function. Sleep is very important when it comes to performing in a particular sport as well as in daily life. It is a form of restarting ourselves for taking on new challenges that lie ahead of us. But with alcohol hindering the restarting process, our body is unable to perform to its fullest potential.
7. Lesser Fat Oxidation
We already discussed that alcohol gets the first priority when it comes to the metabolization of food items. Therefore, it is but obvious that other nutrients in the body will have to wait until alcohol is digested. It is not that difficult to understand that during that time there will be no fat burning.
Along with these, there are other effects of beer or alcohol too such as reduced inhibitions and binge eating. But we wouldn’t go too deep in that. You probably already know about it. That being said, beer has both pros and cons and it is actually very difficult to decide if the beer is entirely good or bad for your health. But in the long run, it is always good to avoid something like beer because of the alcohol content in it. And that is as real as it can get. Be smart, be healthy.
Do like and share this articles with friends and family. Do comment your views and thoughts on the matter. Until then, ciao!
If you have some more precious time to spare, we would like to know which particular thing helped you the most in this article. Whatever be it- a step, a tip or a paragraph, kindly mention it in the below-section.