Alcohol can affect appearance and lead to weight gain
Drinking alcohol will add to the overall calories we consume each day from everything we eat and drink. Calories from alcohol are 'empty calories', meaning they have little nutritional benefit. So consuming extra calories through drinking leads to weight gain.9,10
Different alcoholic drinks have different calorie contents and many are high in sugar. So, typically, a pint of lager contains the same amount of calories as a slice of pizza, or a large glass of wine the same as an ice cream sundae.
Alcohol also replaces the amount of fat our bodies use for energy. Because we can’t store alcohol our bodies prioritise its metabolism over absorbing nutrients and burning fat.11,12
Typically, men tend to show weight gain around their middle13,14, which is how the term ‘beer belly’ came about. Fat around the middle of our bodies is believed to be especially harmful, because it is laid down directly on the organs inside the abdomen (belly), including the liver. Weight gain from any cause, including drinking, as well as alcohol's effect on men's hormones can also show around the chest in men, causing the breasts to get bigger–this is often referred to as ‘man boobs’.
The fact is, all alcoholic drinks are calorific and the more we drink, the more likely it is we’ll gain weight.15
Other ways alcohol can affect our appearance include:
- Loss of hair
- Dry and dull skin
- Bloodshot eyes
- Bad breath
How alcohol creates a 'beer belly'