Milk contains sugar and proteins which give energy. What compounds in alcoholic beverages (edited) give energy? Are they more likely to turn into fat (as in beer belly) than blood glucose?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ alcohol is not a mixture, it is one defined molecule, ethanol (assuming the colloquial definition of alcohol, it can also mean a class of molecules). $\endgroup$ Oct 22 '14 at 9:07
  • $\begingroup$ @MadScientist My bad, I meant alcoholic beverages like beer, wine, rum and whiskey. $\endgroup$ Oct 22 '14 at 12:29

Ethanol is converted into AcKoA, which can be "burned" in the Krebs cycle or can be used to build fatty acids.

ethanol - AcKoA conversion

By chronic alcohol consumption there is another pathway involving MEOS which converts ethanol to AcKoA as well.

Are they more likely to turn into fat (as in beer belly) than blood glucose?

It won't turn into glucose, just into fat.


It is suspected that in extreme cases, like low glucose diets and starvation there is an AcKoA -> glucose pathway.

So in theory it is possible to convert ethanol to glucose, but there is not enough evidence of that yet. Normally this conversion (if it exists) does not happen, or it has a very low rate...

What compounds in alcoholic beverages (edited) give energy?

Mostly ethanol and sugar. E.g. sweet wine contains a lot of sugar, not just ethanol...

  • $\begingroup$ Is AcKoA more likely to be deposited as under-skin fat, like the myth of beer makes your belly especially fatter? Sorry I was vague about "turn into fat" $\endgroup$ Oct 24 '14 at 7:24
  • $\begingroup$ Liver does not produce fat normally, it just mediates the fat transport after eating by creating lipoproteins. I don't know the details of the process, but alcohol can cause fatty liver, so I think the fat is more likely deposited in the liver and in visceral fat depos, than by eating fatty foods. So the myth can be true, but you need more googling to find evidence. scholar.google.com $\endgroup$
    – inf3rno
    Oct 24 '14 at 18:50

Regarding energy:

Going off the assumption that you are using 'alcohol' in the sense of 'alcoholic beverage', it really depends on what kind of beverage we're talking about, but all that information is on the label of the bottle, can or box.

As for ethanol itself, some energy is freed by the metabolising of ethanol into ethanal and further into ethanoic acid, before finally being decomposed to carbon dioxide and water.

Finally, energy is energy: The source of the energy doesn't really affect where the energy ends up, that depends mostly on external factors.

Regarding beer:

Ethanol gives roughly 7 kcal/g, compared to carbohydrates which give roughly 4 kcal/g.

100 ml of beer contains (about) 4 grams of ethanol, beyond which the carbohydrate content varies according to the beer in question, but usually hovers around 3 g.

At a rough estimate the caloric contribution from ethanol is about 0.28 kcal/ml, and carbohydrates about 0.12 kcal/ml. When accounting for the traces of proteins, this gives roughly 0.4 kcal/ml, roughly the same as your common or garden variety soda.

  • $\begingroup$ So what compound provides most of the energy in, say a beer? $\endgroup$ Oct 22 '14 at 12:32
  • $\begingroup$ @aitchnyu: Updating answer with this information now. $\endgroup$ Oct 22 '14 at 12:39
  • $\begingroup$ Right, ethanol can be oxidized. $\endgroup$
    – Dissenter
    Oct 22 '14 at 12:41
  • $\begingroup$ Carbohydrates, as in leftover fruit sugars from the source? $\endgroup$ Oct 24 '14 at 7:27
  • $\begingroup$ @aitchnyu: In addition to additives and adulterants, yes. $\endgroup$ Oct 24 '14 at 7:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.