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How Alcohol Affects Metabolism

The Scary Way Holiday Drinking Causes You to Gain Pounds

When it comes to drinking, it's not just empty calories that can affect your waistline. Overimbibing can also mess with your metabolism, making it harder to shed unwanted pounds.

Dr. Caroline Cederquist, MD, creator of bistroMD, warns that excessive celebrating can make it that much harder to bounce back and see the numbers on the scale drop when you decide to buckle down. "Your body treats alcohol like a toxin, so whenever you drink, your liver makes the breakdown of alcohol a priority and can't focus on metabolizing fat as efficiently," she explains. Downing your favorite festive cocktail, in other words, tells your body to get to work at flushing that out of your system instead of fat. Add to that the fact that alcohol has the confusing ability to both dehydrate and cause water retention, and your holiday party choices can "leave you feeling bloated and puffy," Dr. Cederquist warns.

However, there's good news. If you've been overdoing it every weekend since Thanksgiving, healthier eating habits can get your fat-burning potential back on track. "A proper diet balanced in lean protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates can prevent as well as treat metabolic dysfunction," Dr. Cederquist explains. In addition, make sure that you're sticking to guidelines on moderate drinking: five standard drinks per week for women and 10 standard drinks per week for men. So the next time you're at a party, be smart about how much you drink, stay hydrated, and be sure to opt for a few healthy appetizers when you sidle up to the buffet. Your body will thank you later!

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