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Sugar vs. alcohol

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 05, 2012 at 6:21 PM

Hi!

What's metabolized first: sugar (glucose) or alcohol? If possible, provide detailed explanation or relevant links.

Another question:

If someone is in ketosis and ketones are the main fuel for one's body (they say 'the person is adapted to ketone usage'), why drinking alcohol slows down ketogenesis? As far as I know, when alcohol is metabolized, ketones are produced, right? Why those ketones cannot contribute to body's energy intake serving as fuel?

P.S: Any useful links to biochemistry sources would be appreciated. Thank you!

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on December 07, 2012
at 03:27 PM

This is an example of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. Something that precedes something else is not necessarily the cause (although it could be). Hangovers usually happen a long time after the alcohol is cleared from the bloodstream. So those ketones would not be the end product of alcohol metabolism. And, biochemically, there is no way to get there. I suspect that perhaps once the alcohol clears, fatty acid oxidation ramps up producing ketones.

7b4641bc7c610f2944da66f79cc3378a

(298)

on December 06, 2012
at 08:45 AM

If alcohol is not converted into ketones, why ketosticks show severe ketone concentration during hangover?

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on December 05, 2012
at 09:01 PM

To be fair, alcohol won't be 100% out of the system ever - various bodily processes produce alcohol as a waste product, and it needs to be metabolized constantly.

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2 Answers

best answer

1
Medium avatar

(10663)

on December 05, 2012
at 08:38 PM

Your body makes a priority in metabolizing alcohol first. The reason for this is that unlike protein, fats, and carbs, alcohol has no place to be stored, so it has to be oxidized to get rid of it.

This answers your next question about alcohol's effect on ketosis: alcohol is burned first before any macronutrient so it stops fat metabolism in the process. Fat will not be burned until the alcohol is out of your system; hence, no ketones being produced. It sounds counterintuitive but don't eat before you drink. However, you may find you're quicker to become intoxicated if you're low-carb. Keep in mind, alcohol does produce ketones but fat burning is still put on hold. You should go back into ketosis after the alcohol has been purged out of your system, assuming your keep your carbs to a reasonable amount. It also depends what alcohol you're drinking; for example, vodka has 0 carbs. In other words, stick with the hard stuff ;)

Here's some useful links to the biochemistry of alcohol metabolism:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1016/0307-4412(90)90174-M/pdf
http://rdfeinman.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/organic-biochemistry-nutrition-4-alcohol-metabolism/
http://themedicalbiochemistrypage.org/ethanol-metabolism.php

sugar-vs.-alcohol

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on December 05, 2012
at 09:01 PM

To be fair, alcohol won't be 100% out of the system ever - various bodily processes produce alcohol as a waste product, and it needs to be metabolized constantly.

1
A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on December 05, 2012
at 08:38 PM

Alcohol is metabolized first.

Alcohol does not metabolize into ketones, it goes from acetaldehyde to acetic acid to acetyl-CoA (which is the input to the Krebs cycle). Perhaps you are confusing acetic acid with acetone, which is a ketone. In fact, ethanol alcohol interferes with fatty acid oxidation in the liver, which pretty much disrupts all ketone generation until it is completely metabolized.

  • source Wikipedia. Articles on Ethanol and Ethanol Metabolism.

7b4641bc7c610f2944da66f79cc3378a

(298)

on December 06, 2012
at 08:45 AM

If alcohol is not converted into ketones, why ketosticks show severe ketone concentration during hangover?

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on December 07, 2012
at 03:27 PM

This is an example of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. Something that precedes something else is not necessarily the cause (although it could be). Hangovers usually happen a long time after the alcohol is cleared from the bloodstream. So those ketones would not be the end product of alcohol metabolism. And, biochemically, there is no way to get there. I suspect that perhaps once the alcohol clears, fatty acid oxidation ramps up producing ketones.

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