The Alcohol Stall - Does Liquor Really Impede Low Carb Weight Loss?
Posted Sep 29 2008 5:54pm
An experiment in keeping the djinn (I mean, gin ) in the bottle. For a while, anyway.
I wouldn’t have even been able to make that bon mot above if I didn’t play so much Scrabble on my PDA.
Now, about this alcohol business: If you’ve been hanging around the Low Carb Confidential blog and have been reading any of my nonsense, you know I love my martinis. Bombay Sapphire gin and Noilly Prat dry vermouth, preferably, but I typically drink Beefeaters now because it’s still very good and costs somewhat less than Sapphire. Three stuffed olives per drink, and they must be put on the pick in a particular order (first, Gorgonzola cheese stuffed, then anchovy stuffed, and then a random choice of either jalapeno, red pepper, garlic, or almond stuffed). My standard evening is two drinks; three on the weekend nights.
My friend at work sometimes wears a T-shirt that says, “I can’t be an alcoholic; I don’t go to meetings.” I know I’m not an alcoholic because I can live without it if necessary. I’d rather not, because I enjoy it, but when it’s better to abstain for a while for any particular reason, it’s not a giant deal for me.
When I went back on the Atkins induction phase January 2nd to lose the pounds I’d regained since 2003 ( here’s how ), I cut out the martinis for the first two weeks as recommended, and I lost seven pounds. A few days after resuming a one-cocktail-per-night routine, the loss stopped. Some other weird things were going on at the same time, so I assumed there was some other reason or reasons for this abrupt stall. After all, I’d been drinking wine, low carb beer, and martinis during the same period in my first loss in 2003, and I didn’t hit a plateau of any sort until the first month was over. My doctor tested my thyroid function at my request in the beginning of February, along with some other factors, but all is well.
Low carb readers and bloggers continue to advise me of their own experiences with alcohol stalls, and I’ve seen plenty of the same sort of comment when searching for information on it. I just didn’t want to think it was what was stalling me. But enough is enough. I’m doing everything else by the book, and I’m in ketosis every day according to my ketosticks. Six weeks of bouncing up and down in the same four pound range says I’m doing something wrong, and the only thing I haven’t seriously tried is giving up the booze.
Mrs. Megamas and I attended the huge annual party thrown by my employer on Saturday, and we took our own stock to make drinks in the room we booked at the hotel where the party’s held. Knowing I was planning on starting an abstinence ritual when the weekend was over made the cocktails that much sweeter. I ate strictly low carb, sticking to beef, turkey, cheese, and a few bites of broccoli served up at the “grazing stations” set up throughout the hotel. It was a heck of an evening, and I felt the requisite blottoness on Sunday for many hours.
The thing is, I’d been counting on greeting Monday with the same dopey stagnancy on the scale readout that I’d been living with for weeks so this experiment would have a good kick-off. Saturday I lost 1.4 pounds. “No biggie; I’m sure to gain that back and then some after the party,” I consoled myself. Sunday morning, after an early hotel checkout, I weighed myself at home having had nothing to eat or drink prior. WHAT?!? Another 1.8 pounds off! Not only that, my percentage of body fat that had been hovering around 32% since I got the scale plummeted to 28% overnight. Body water inched up from 48% to 50%.
I’m not sure why I had such a “drastic” decrease. It may have been water weight; after all, alcohol causes dehydration, but I didn’t really visit the men’s room that much at the party or afterward to get rid of anything any more than I do when I don’t drink that much. If it was water, why did my fluid content increase and my fat content decrease? Anyway, if I haven’t regained most of it by Monday morning, it’s going to throw off the whole point of the abstinence experiment. Did drinking MORE break the stall, similar to eating more fat to accomplish the same thing?
Well, by putting this out there in our community, I’m committed to this for a minimum of two weeks. I’ll let you know at the end of each week just what’s happened as the days have gone by. If I wind up having the same experience as a lot of other low carbers, we’ll discuss the possibilities of why. Decreased insulin secretion? Decreased caloric intake? Some other factor? Was the alcohol involved at all, or did something else break the stall at a less than convenient time? If I don’t have the same experience, then what’s going on?