PCOS: Why Alcohol is Not Your Friend
I have to kick off this post by saying that I’m not judging anyone for drinking. Heck, I have cocktails as a planned indulgence, too. So let’s be clear that this is not a “do as I say, not as I do” situation. I just want to share some information about alcohol, PCOS fertility, and weight loss so you can make an informed choice.
Make happiness a priority and be gentle with yourself in the process
~ Bronnie Ware
About 8 months into our journey to get pregnant with our first, my husband and I had planned a winter getaway in Mammoth California to ski and enjoy some time together! I had secretly hoped this would be the month we would get our positive pregnancy test, and that we would have a whole week away as a couple celebrating our growing family.
I started my period on day 45 of my cycle, after 10 negative pregnancy tests just two days before we left. As with every negative pregnancy test or the start of another period I was devastated, heartbroken, angry, and felt empty and alone, all over again. By the time we left, I was in a little bit better emotional state. We relaxed, played, and enjoyed the week together with the silver lining of getting to go wine tasting in the evenings. While we didn’t get to celebrate our growing family it was a perfect little honeymoon to strengthen our relationship before trying again next month.
If you have been following me for any length of time you know how much I believe in natural methods to heal PCOS. Alcohol definitely is not part of nourishing your hormones. But the real secret to healing PCOS is to create a lifestyle that cares for and nourishes your hormones AND that you love! If you enjoy adult beverages then obviously we need to weave these into your plan.
While I will never tell any of my clients that they should “never” drink alcohol again. Hey, if it’s your birthday and you want to have some wine, go ahead!
But truthfully, regular consumption of alcohol may slow down your weight-loss progress and affect your fertility. If you’re used to having a glass of wine at dinner each night, you can probably forget about losing those 10 lbs. this month. Why? Read on for 3 reasons alcohol is not your weight-loss friend.
If pregnancy is your goal then this is a good reason to avoid or be careful with alcohol as well. The irregular cycles make it difficult to know when you are fertile. As you follow my PCOS healthy living guidelines your cycles will become more predictable and you will have a better idea when it would be ok to indulge with your favorite cocktail.
Reason #1: It’s Basically Poison
Here’s the thing: when you drink alcohol, your body uses it as a “priority fuel” until all of it has been removed from your body. What? It’s like a poison your body wants to expel as quickly as possible. So when you consume adult beverages, rather than metabolizing fat, your liver goes into full-on “get rid of the poison” mode. This means that when you have a drink, your fat-burning furnace is shut off for about 6-8 hours while your liver burns out the alcohol. You read that right: I said a drink. As in, one drink.
Logically, if you take the number of drinks you normally drink in a week and have all of them on Saturday and Sunday, your fat loss would be better (note: we’re talking about fat loss NOT drunkenness) if all other things are equal. Instead of your fat-burning furnace being turned off 6-8 hours per day, it may be turned off for 12-16 hours over the weekend. So mathematically it makes sense. But if you’re drinking that much at once, can all other things really be equal?
Reason #2: Junk Food
One late night I ended up in the back of a taxi after drinking. Where do you think I was? I was in the drive-thru at Jack-In-The-Box laughing hysterically and demanding to talk to Jack because I had something very important to say. I’m sure I was a sight to behold.
While I was there, I also ordered three monster tacos and French fries. That is why alcohol is not your friend! It’s true – alcohol can stimulate your appetite and cause you to eat way too many calories of junk food.
We’ve all had those mornings where we wake up and walk into the kitchen only to find fast food wrappers scattered all over the counter. “Oh, no I didn’t!” is usually the first thought. Whoever went on a drunken fast-food binge and felt happy when they remembered what they had done the next morning? No one!
When you drink, your food inhibitions are washed away in a sea of alcohol. You’re just not going to make good food choices, period. End of story. If there’s a little part of your brain that likes junk food but you don’t let yourself have it normally, as soon as the alcohol kicks in, that’s where you lose your inhibitions.
One of my mottos is: “Eat your French fries when you’re sober so you can truly enjoy them and remember the experience.”
Reason #3: Coyote Ugly
If you’re not willing to give up your alcohol, having 1-2 drinks a couple of times a week probably isn’t going to throw off your healthy living and weight loss goals. I’m not a huge fan of regular drinking while attempting to lose weight, but the truth is, after my first month of weight loss, I started enjoying a few adult beverages (vodka soda with a lemon wedge) on the weekend and I still lost weight and got to goal.
If you are going to drink while trying to lose weight, make sure to avoid any cocktails with calorie-laden mixers. A pina colada can send the scale skyrocketing. A good rule of thumb is if it has an umbrella in it, you won’t look good in a bikini. Keep the alcohol on the rocks or mixed with soda water and fresh lime or lemon wedge.
Ashlene Korcek PA-C
Hi there! I’m Ashlene Korcek, the PCOS Mama and founder of Nourished to Healthy
I help women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome balance their hormones naturally so that they can take back control of their bodies, boost their fertility, and ultimately live free from the symptoms of PCOS. Like you, I have PCOS, I was diagnosed while struggling with infertility and was told I likely would never have children. Even as a board-certified Physician Assistant I felt lost about what to do and very alone! Fast forward 5 years and I have 3 healthy children, but I never want another woman to feel lost and alone the way I did!
You can break free from the downward spiral of PCOS and feel amazing in your own skin again!