Day Five: Recap – The Cause of and Solution to…

To explain women to his son Bart, Homer – like Jesus – chose to relate the lesson in a parable. The sage advice went something like this:

Actually, a woman is more like a beer. They smell good. They look good. You’d step over your own mother just to get one. But you can’t stop at one. You wanna drink another woman.

... or Christina Aguilera? Is there a difference?

... or Christina Aguilera? Is there a difference?

What Homer is illustrating for his young son is the lighter side of alcoholism, a condition that has brought joy to many people over the years and one that I should, perhaps, be more concerned about than I actually am.

I don’t drink a lot, but when I do I drink a lot.

I believe the term for this is binge drinking and it is pretty universally understood as a bad thing.

Granted, when I’m at home I’ll stop at two, maybe three beers. But if I’m out at a bar or visiting friends it is as it once was with Pringles. Once I pop, I can’t stop.

That actually makes it sound more dramatic than it actually is. But if I were to say, “I’m capable of stopping, I just choose not to”, there would surely be a sinister chord in a minor key underneath foreshadowing my inevitable downfall in act II of our After Shcool Special.

Anyway, it turns out that not only does drinking damage your liver, give you a strawberry nose, and make everybody else a lot hotter; it also contributes to fattitude. According to some research, alcohol makes it harder for your body to burn fat. In addition, other research shows that alcohol stimulates the appetite. So the alcohol makes you hungry, but inhibits your ability to burn fats. This isn’t a great combination for weight loss. On top of that, beer has a fair amount of carbs, and mixed drinks are often combined with sugary juices or soda. Again, not great health foods.

While moderate drinking tends to stimulate appetite, it seems that chronic drinking diminishes it. Calories from nutrients get replaced by calories from alcohol, and you end up feeling euphoric and uninterested in eating. That sounds pretty good to me! Unfortunately the side effect of the all-booze weight loss plan is death. That doesn’t sound so great.

So it would seem that healthy weight loss and drinking go together like french fries and Frosties. Oh no… that’s actually a really good combination. Um… they go together like hoboes and habidashers. That’s unkind to both, but it feels right somehow.

Nutrition Facts:

Total Calories: 4090.14
Calories from Fat: 1294.5
Fat: 144.79 grams
Carbohydrates: 438.94 grams
Fiber: 22.59 grams
Protein: 177.2 grams

Exercise Level: Low

Walking 2.4 miles (easy)

Foods Devoured:

Grande Skinny Vanilla Latte
Chocolate Chunk Cookie
Peanut Satay Noodles & Sauce
Chicken Breast
Wheat Bread
Fat Tire
Wheat Saltines
Chicken Super Burrito
Tortilla Chips
Diet Coke
Mint Chocolate Chunk in Chocolate Dipped Waffle Cone
Fat Tire
Fat Tire
Chicken Sandwich

By the way, if you follow the link above to the New York Times story from 1992 about beer guts, you’ll notice this quote:

The research is one more piece of a larger idea to emerge from recent investigation of how people get fat or stay thin: When people eat extra carbohydrates — sugar or starch — they tend to burn most of it, adding little to their girth. But the body burns extra fat sparingly and instead saves it.

In a post Atkins world this statement is heresy if not outright lunacy. It was only a few years ago we were all swearing off carbs and sugar and guzzling bacon fat and greasy egg yolks straight from the skillet. It just goes to show that when it comes to nutrition fads flare up and die down. When I was young it was all about avoiding fat and loading up on bran. Now it’s about avoid carbs like the clap.

Personally, I take this stuff with a grain of salt. Not literally! Sodium is, after all, bad for your blood pressure and causes you to retain water and become puffy.

Regardless of the weight loss science or quackery behind the New York Times story, I think that reducing alcohol to occasional moderate consumption can only be a good thing for my health overall. And if it takes a decade-old article of dubious validity to convince me to do so, then so be it.