alcohol processing in the body?

I was reading on a Diabetic web site that alcohol is processed by the body as fat:
‘Your body digests alcohol as a fat.
A highball with water or soda water contains about 135 calories.’
THis was Quoted by some docs:
Ruth E. Lundstrom, R.N., John P. Mordes, M.D., Aldo A.Rossini, M.D.

Now some guy with a so called Phd in Biochemistry [ haven’t seen the diploma] says that the body does NOT process alcohol as fat. Can any one confirm which is right?

I don’t know about the actual processing, but:

1 gram Carbohydrate = 4 Calories
1 gram Protein = 4 Calories
1 gram Alcohol = 7 Calories
1 gram Fat = 9 Calories

Perhaps they were trying to say in an easily-misunderstood way that you’re not going to get skinny drinking booze, since gram-for-gram, it has almost as many calories as fat?

Er, the calories in alcohol are all carbo-hydrate (nless you’re drinking mudslides or something) – hence, I can’t imagine the reason for the above stated disparity.

Scientific American had an article on metabolizing alcohol. IIRC, it is absorbed through the lining of the GI tract and processed in the liver, rather than digested in a straightforward manner. I don’t recall any specifics about calorie content but they were pretty clear that it was hard on your liver.

If you want to look it up I’ll give you a helpful hint: It was a while ago. That’s all my memory can come up with and I don’t drink alcohol! :slight_smile:

“Finally, consider Kottke’s voice which sounds like geese farts on a muggy day.”
Leo Kottke
6- And 12-String Guitar

I think it’s a big scam by the people who want us to believe Alcohol is Evil.

Alcohol is a carbohydrate. There’s a gazillion studies that want us to believe that alcohol is somehow magically processed differently, and it results in alcohol being more likely to produce fat than other types of carbs. I don’t know about you, but most alcoholics that I know look emaciated and unhealthy. Too much alcohol can certainly screw you up, but I have my doubts that it will make you fatter than any over indulging in any other kind of food.

1 shot 80 proof liquor = 65 calories.
1 beer = 150 calories
1 light beer = 110 calories
1 wine = 80-110 calories

Also make sure to add in the calories in the mixer. I think people in general want to discount the calories in drinks - especially alcoholic drinks. If you’re on a diet, you have to take into account drinks, just like any other food.

Ethanol, which is the kind of alcohol people drink, is NOT a carbohydrate and it IS processed differently by the body than carbohydrates are. The reason that there are a gazillion studies saying these things is that they’re true. Any good biochem textbook will tell you this, in excruciating detail.

Whether it’s more likely to make you fat or not is an entirely separate question.

Don’t ever believe anything an M.D. tells you about hard-core biochemistry (except maybe an endocrinologist). Chances are they haven’t seen the subject in 3 1/2 years. (And that’s if they just graduated.)

That said, alcohol is broken down to Acetyl-CoA, which is also a breakdown product of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. (Looked it up.) I do think alcohol abuse can lead to a buildup of fat in the liver, but I wouldn’t say it is “digested as a fat”.

Dr. J

Just want to point out that many alcoholics are skinny and unhealthy looking because they drink rather than eat. There may be a lot of calories in alcohol but there aren’t many vitamins.

Plus I’ve met a few alcoholics that were fat and unhealthy looking. Apparently they drink and eat.

“Finally, consider Kottke’s voice which sounds like geese farts on a muggy day.”
Leo Kottke
6- And 12-String Guitar

  1. I think the main point that the ADA dietary recommendations are trying to make is to suggest that diabetics should count alcohol against their fat (empty calories) allowance for the day.

  2. Carbohydrates are organic molecules whose formulae are (roughly) multiples of C H2 O (carbon + water=hydrate). Ethanol, as C2 H6 O does not meet this requirement & is not a carbohydrate.

  3. Alcohol & diabetes = potential trouble. Either the alcohol or sugar in this mixer can cause an acute rise in blood sugar. While alcohol is being metabolized in the the liver, other metabolic functions, such as making glucose from amino acids (which keeps your sugar from hitting 0 overnight) may be disrupted & low sugars can result. Combined with alcohol withdrawal, this can cause seizures.

  4. As Dr J mentioned, alcohol is converted by alcohol dehydrogenase into C2 H4 O2 (acetate), which when coupled with Coenzyme A (CoA), leads to conversion of ADP to ATP, the energy-storage molecule in our cells, as the carbons are sequentially oxidized to CO2. This is the same final pathway that carbon pairs from fats go through to be converted to CO2 & produce increased levels of ATP. (NB: My biochemistry is 20 years old :wink: )

Sue from El Paso