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Beer & Health #11

Heartburn, Gueuze, the Liver …Even More from the Mailbag (and RB forums)
Features July 5, 2007      
Written by hopscotch

Vero Beach, FLORIDA -

I took a bit of a hiatus from writing while I settled into my new home, job and lifestyle here in the Treasure Coast of Florida. However, I’ve finally found time to scan the forums and freshly published literature. I’ve also responded to most of my fitness related beer-mail. Hopefully, these questions and my responses will prove useful or, at least, interesting to you.

First up, a beer-mail from <U>brew4fun</u>:

Q: First, lovely avatar! Second, I am not looking to lose weight, as I am 6’1" and consistently 180 lbs. My eating is very clean, lean protein and complex carbs in equal proportions each meal. I enjoy 1-2 beers nightly with a meal, and one day a week I do not limit my intake, which usually turns out to be 4-5. I do have a question, if you will allow. Beer has calories, many (if not most) derived from alcohol. Since the liver removes alcohol as it circulates through the bloodstream, does the caloric intake from the alcohol itself have any impact on weight? I enjoy your articles and grant that you are an expert on this subject. Thanks for your time.
Jeff in Dunbar, WV

A: Hi Jeff-
It’s nice to hear from a fellow Mountaineer.
Actually, the alcohol in a beer does have an impact on daily caloric intake. It’s simple math, really... although I guess there’s a diminishing return (of a sort) with the liver slowly filtering out the alcohol from your blood as time passes “post-beer.” Alcohol provides seven calories per gram and can be converted to fat if necessary, but can only be stored in the liver. Therefore, it can impact your weight and body fat percentage, but not in a way that will affect the way you look. This kind of fat (in and around your organs) is visceral fat (brown fat). The stuff that hangs off your abs, obliques, ass, thighs and chest is called subcutaneous fat (white fat). Brown fat can kill you; white fat can only kill your sex life. Also, it takes a relatively long time for your liver to filter out all the alcohol in your blood, so those calories provided by the alcohol tend to either be burned for energy or stored as fat before the liver totally filters them out of your system. If those calories are burned for energy, that leaves the calories from other foods and beverages you consume with nothing to do other than being converted to fat. Again, it’s all simple mathematics. If you consume more calories per day than you burn, you’re going to gain weight! Whether the additional weight comes from fat or muscle is up to you and your diet/exercise program. I hope that helps. LET’S GO MOUNTAINEERS! I hope you’re not a Herd fan ;-)

Next up, a question from <U>wunderbier</u>:
Q: Another question for you, provided I haven’t worn your patience thin yet. I’ve been reading a little about the physiological aspects of exercise (a little knowledge is a dangerous thing!) and wonder if I’m not doing the right things at the wrong time during the day.

I weight lift in the morning, probably thirty minutes after I eat. I’m thinking that my body probably hasn’t absorbed any carbs at this point and my system might either a) be digesting muscle to get protein to fuel my workout or b) not be operating at full efficiency for weight lifting. I do some light cardio in the evenings and, as I understand it, at my target heart rate this process utilizes fat stores for energy. Would I see better results by doing my cardio early in the day and waiting on the weight lifting, or is it not that big of a deal?

A: Hi Brandon-
Eating thirty minutes before you exercise should provide sufficient fuel for a workout... depending upon what you’re eating (let me know). If your body wasn’t operating at full-efficiency for weight training in the morning, it would be due to something simple like: "you’re not a morning person." Physiologically, some people’s minds and bodies work more efficiently in the morning; others in the afternoon or evening. I, for example, am an afternoon and evening person and I don’t question the reason why. It shouldn’t really matter what time of day you are working out as long as your mind is into it and you are able to push your targeted muscle groups to or near muscular failure.

If you want to burn the most fat without burning muscle, do cardio for thirty to sixty minutes (at your target heart rate) in the morning prior to eating. At that hour, your blood stream is basically devoid of glucose, amino acids and fatty acids, and instead of it taking 20 minutes or so for you to begin chipping away at your body fat stores, you will jump to the fat burning phase much sooner. Also, if you knock out your cardio in the morning, your metabolism will get a huge jumpstart for the day ahead. However, if you’re working on an empty blood stream, be certain not to exceed your target heart rate and definitely stop exercising if you feel light headed or dizzy. Cheers! -Eric

R(eply): Eric, I did my cardio this morning when I first woke up and my weight training several hours later after I had fueled up. AMAZING. I’ve never had this much midday energy before. Hopefully it’ll keep up. Thanks!

The next rater to step into the batter’s box is <U>redneck</u>:

Q: Hi, I have a question for you. I drink a lot of mineral water but I like the water with gas. Which one is better and why? Regular mineral water or mineral water with gas? Thanks.

A: It simply depends on what you like.
If you like bubbles, go for sparkling water. I recommend distilled water over mineral water, but there’s definitely no harm in bubbles. That’s not to say “all carbonated beverages are good for you”, but I see no problem with sparkling water. Just make sure you’re getting your 64-104 ounces of water per day. Drink on!

<U>Enniskillen</u> writes:

Q: When you have a cold, is it better to get better first, or stick to a routine? I had a cold over the past 4 days, and just have taken the days off from the gym. Planning on going back tomorrow, the right thing to do?

A: A cold is a virus. It’s going to take at least a few days for your body to kill it. It takes energy for your body fight a virus. If you work out, you may be tapping into the energy your body needs to fight and kill the bug. Then that cold could end up dragging on and on and may eventually lead to an infection within your respiratory system. The next thing you know, it’ll have been three weeks since you were healthy enough to head to the gym and work out. The safest bet would be to take the time off and allow your body to concentrate solely on ridding itself of the virus as quickly as possible... then, back to the gym you go. That’s my take anyway. -Eric

Wham, bam, thank you <U>Sham</u>:

Q: Hey Eric,
I have a question regarding nutrition timing. I exercise daily before work (resistance training and HIIT cardio three times a week,) and ration out my meals to five or six balanced meals a day. Currently, I fast until an hour after my workout, then I eat. I got this from a fitness website, and it has worked for me. I have recently read that you will benefit more if you eat something an hour before working out, though. So, my question is: What is the most beneficial way to nutrition timing? Maybe it’s neither...
I have had good results the way I have been doing it, but if I can see more gains the other way...
Thanks for any information!

A: Hmmm. I’m not certain why one would fast until an hour after working out, but I’m sure it’s a theory that worked for at least one person at some point. I’ll go ahead and say keep it up on the days you do cardio, but I think you would really benefit from taking in thirty grams (or more) of protein 1/2 hour before and then ASAP, but no more than one hour, after resistance training. I say give your muscles what they need when they need it. Also, don’t shy away from taking in some sugar (or simple carbs) with that protein right after working out. The sugar will spike your insulin level a bit and that will, in turn, open up those muscle cells to suck in the amino acids from all that protein. That’s my school of thought anyway. I hope that helps. –Eric
PS If you don’t mind, send me a link to that article regarding fasting for an hour after working out. Sounds interesting. I’m curious as to the reasoning behind it.

Finally, a forum thread started by <U>jbrus</u>:

Q: I’ve always been a fan of geuze but recently my stomach starts protesting. Already after 1 bottle (375ml). Is there anyone else having this problem?

A: Then I reply with a remedy of apple cider vinegar.

Later in the thread, <U>TheBeerOrg</u> asks:

Q: Just curious, does anyone know why a high-acid food like vinegar would neutralize stomach acids? Not saying you’re wrong, it just seems counter-intuitive.

My reply (abridged) was:

A: Yep, I do, but I never said apple cider vinegar neutralizes stomach acid. Heartburn and acid reflux pain is caused by the hydrochloric acid in your stomach finding its way up into your esophagus. The PH of stomach acid ranges around 1.0 (everyone is different). Battery acid (30% sulfuric acid) is one of the strongest acids known and, by comparison, has a pH of about 0.8 (lower PH = more acid). In other words, stomach acid is really strong stuff. Apple cider vinegar, as you buy it in the supermarket, has a PH of only about 4.0. When you take in a teaspoonful or so of apple cider vinegar, your body’s sensors recognize the additional acid in your stomach and shut off the pumps. If you take in baking soda or some other form of base chemical, it neutralizes your stomach acid. However, your body then senses the subsequent higher PH in the stomach and turns those acid pumps right back on again. People with Acid Reflux Disease and those who use nicotine, caffeine or drink sour beers suffer from heartburn because their acid pumps are stimulated even when there’s nothing in their stomach to digest. That’s how it’s supposed to work anyway. So, my advice would be to take in one or two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, instead of a sodium or calcium carbonate-based antacid when you’re on fire. You could even add a little sugar or honey to it and pretend you’re rating a really bad Faro. Also, one purported home-remedy of honey is that it helps heal burns. It’s possible that the honey could help buffer and/or help heal your fried esophagus, but I wouldn’t count on that.

Oh, by the way:

Please remember to consult your physician prior to beginning dietary supplementation of any kind.

That’s it for now. I have more beer-mail to go through, but it’ll have to wait for Beer & Health #12. If you have any questions about diet, exercise or beer (as it relates to both), feel free to beermail me anytime at <a hrefmailto:[email protected]>[email protected]. Until next time, as always, everything in moderation… including moderation.

Eric Starnes
ACE Certified Personal Trainer


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start quote If you want to burn the most fat without burning muscle, do cardio for thirty to sixty minutes (at your target heart rate) in the morning prior to eating. end quote