Triglycerides And Alcohol
Most articles on the web will tell you to either quit drinking alcohol altogether if trying to lower triglycerides or to at least drink in moderation. Moderation means no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men. What most websites don't tell you is that cutting all alcohol actually reduces HDL or the "good" cholesterol! Alcohol has plenty of negatives, but there are actually a couple of drinks that have shown promise in their ingredients for lowering triglycerides. So first, let's make sure you understand the risks.
Alcohol affects triglyceride levels in a number of ways:
First, alcohol is a large source of excess calories. On a typical night, say you drink 4 drinks. That is around 800 calories from the alcohol alone - never mind the mixers. There are approximately 200 calories per ounce of pure alcohol. This is the amount of alcohol in a single drink. If the calories you consume from drinking aren't immediately needed for energy, then they are excess. Unfortunately, most people drink in the evening when there isn't a big need for extra calories. These excess calories are converted to fat or triglycerides and the levels in the blood increase.
Second, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2003 showed that alcohol also inhibits the burning of fat. Alcohol in the bloodstream can actually slow down fat metabolism by more than 30%. So not only are you producing more triglycerides, but you are actually slowing down the actual burning of fat. Not good.
Third, many people also consume foods high in sodium and fat while drinking. Potato chips, french fries, nachos, chicken wings and other types of bar food pile on the excess calories that are converted to fat if not immediately needed by the body. One ounce of potato chips is about 155 calories. Medium fries - 450 calories. Don't get me started on chicken wings! You get the idea. Most people are not only consuming a large number of extra calories with their drinks, but the snacking while drinking can actually double the excess calories consumed in an evening.
Fourth, when alcohol is present in the blood, your liver prioritizes removing alcohol from the blood over any other task. The liver can remove about one ounce of alcohol per hour from your bloodstream. In the meantime, glucose tends to be further processed into triglycerides which raises blood levels. This is a direct way in which alcohol can increase trigclycerides.
Fifth, alcohol spurs the liver to make more triglycerides. According to both the Diabetes Organization and Tufts University, even light drinking (two to four ounces of alcohol a week) can raise triglycerides.
Sixth, alcohol reduces the amount of the enzyme, pancreatic lipase, that breaks down triglycerides. A reduction in this critical enzyme means a reduction in the amount of triglycerides broken down. If the alcohol prohibits breaking down triglycerides, that means more in your bloodstream. Plain and simple.
Do I have to absolutely quit alcohol to lower my triglycerides?
Unfortunately I like a nightcap as well as the next person. However if you want to drop your levels as quick as possible, then you need to quit. If you can't quit, then you need to drink in moderation. Moderation means no more than one or two drinks per night. No binge drinking. Medical studies have actually shown that two types drinks potentially reduce triglycerides! They are listed in my guide along with a number of foods that actually have been proven to reduce triglyceride levels when incorporated in your diet.