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Alcohol & Metabolism: How Drinking Affects Metabolism & Weight

Alcohol & Metabolism: How Drinking Affects Metabolism & Weight

As a Pompano substance abuse treatment center, we know that excessive drinking and alcoholism can have a serious impact on a person’s life.

Alcohol & Metabolism: How Drinking Affects Metabolism & Weight

As a Pompano substance abuse treatment center, we know that excessive drinking and alcoholism can have a serious impact on a person’s life. It can affect everything from someone’s personal relationships to their physical health. Along with damage to the liver over time, alcohol can also have a drastic impact on a person’s metabolism.

What Is Metabolism?

Metabolism is typically referred to as the process by which the body breaks down the chemicals in food and drinks and converts them into energy for the body. Unnecessary components are then eliminated from the body as waste. Not everyone’s metabolism works at the same speed, and metabolism rates can be affected by diet, exercise, age, medications, weight, gender, and even alcohol consumption.

Weight, Alcohol, & Metabolism Effects

 Alcohol and metabolism are connected in a few ways. Various parts of the body play a role in the metabolism of alcohol, but the liver is responsible for a large part of this process. When the body ingests alcohol, it is metabolized by the enzymes alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH). These enzymes help break down the alcohol into byproducts like acetaldehyde (a highly toxic carcinogenic) and acetate, which are further broken down before being eliminated by the body.1

The connection between drinking and metabolism is complicated. While many people believe that alcohol slows metabolism because it tends to lead to weight gain, heavy drinking can actually increase the body’s metabolism rate.2 The weight gain associated with drinking usually comes from high caloric drinks with little nutrients, unhealthy eating when intoxicated, poor digestive health, changes in hormones from drinking, lack of exercise, and poor liver health.3,4

Because people with higher rates of alcohol consumption tend to be less active, they are more likely to gain weight.2 Typically, the body also prioritizes metabolizing alcohol for energy over other substances. This order can delay the breakdown of fat from these other substances and lead to weight gain.5 Although heavy drinking can increase metabolic rate, liver disease may lead to a decreased metabolism rate of ethanol, a simple alcohol.2 Liver disease can also be problematic for several other reasons, so it is important for alcoholics to get alcohol abuse treatment before this disease progresses and becomes more serious.

Not only do alcohol and metabolism have a complicated relationship, but there are several other outside factors than can impact metabolic rate and weight changes regardless of alcohol consumption. While cutting alcohol out of your life may not guarantee weight loss, it will lead to several other health benefits.

With our Pompano PHP, we help people quit drinking for good and regain control of their lives. If you or someone you care about has a substance abuse problem and needs help, we are here. To get more details on our programs at Banyan Pompano, call us now at 888-280-4763.


  1. NIH - Alcohol Metabolism: An Update
  2. NCBI - Alcohol Metabolism
  3. NCBI - Relationship between alcohol intake, body fat, and physical activity – a population-based study
  4. Diabetes Journal - Prediction of Metabolic Syndrome by Low Serum Testosterone Levels in Men
  5. JCI - Increased brain uptake and oxidation of acetate in heavy drinkers
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.