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The Effect of Alcohol on Weight Loss

The Effect of Alcohol on Weight Loss

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Can you drink alcohol and still lose weight? Many health experts emphatically say “no,” but all agree that even if the answer is “yes,” alcohol consumption must be very controlled in order to shed excess pounds.

Drinking alcohol can hinder your weight loss in at least three ways:

It’s high in calories. 

Many alcoholic drinks are high in calories because they are high in sugar. Alcohol is also often high in carbohydrates.

It interferes with metabolism. 

Instead of letting your liver use fat calories for energy, the first thing your body does is work to break down the alcohol. This causes a buildup of fatty acids and can hinder weight loss.

It hinders the ability to make healthy food choices. 

Along with the calories in the alcohol itself, drinking often accompanies eating, and the more alcohol you consume, the more likely you will be to eat high-fat, high-calorie foods.

Calories in Common Alcoholic Beverages

Just how many calories are in your favorite adult beverage? Here’s a breakdown of the approximate calories in common alcoholic drinks.

  • Regular beer: 150 calories in a 12-ounce glass
  • Light beer: 100 calories in a 12-ounce glass
  • Wine: 100 calories in a five-ounce glass
  • Distilled alcohol (gin, rum, vodka, whiskey): 100 calories in a 1.5-ounce serving
  • Martini (extra dry): 140 calories in a 2.25-ounce glass
  • Margarita on the rocks: 500 calories in an 8-ounces glass
  • Piña colada: 490 calories in a 9-ounce glass

When consuming mixed drinks or cocktails, be sure to consider the calories of the soda or juice added to your drink.

If you’re serious about losing weight, it may be best to skip the alcohol until you’re in maintenance mode. If you are going to have a drink, choose wine, which may protect the heart and help lower inflammation. Or, opt for a drink with clear alcohol and no sugary mixers, such as vodka and club soda or tequila on the rocks with lime. One drink most likely maxes out any potential health benefits, though, so keep a cork in your alcohol consumption and keep your drinking in moderation. Like any other habit that impacts weight, staying consistent is the key to maintaining your weight loss results.

If you don’t plan to abstain from alcohol for life, then make a plan to create a balance. The recommended limits on alcohol are one drink a day for women and two for men. See the list above to know what a “standard drink” size is. Each contains the same amount of alcohol and therefore will raise your blood alcohol concentration about the same. Abstaining during the week and then consuming a week’s worth of drinks over the weekend is not considered drinking in moderation and can have serious and even dangerous health consequences.