Is Alcohol Derailing Your Weight Loss Goals?

One of the first questions most clients ask before embarking on one of our programs is if they can continue to drink alcohol. For the first 10 days the answer is always NO. After that, it is allowed in moderation (no more than 2 drinks per week for at least 4 weeks) but the truth is - alcohol does play a large role in weight loss and management and for anyone looking to achieve their goal as quickly and sustainably as possible, it’s best to just abstain. We aren’t saying that means never enjoying an adult beverage again, but after reading below, you may think twice before reaching for that nightly glass of wine.

  1. Our bodies treat calories from alcohol differently from calories from food. Because it recognizes alcohol as a toxin, it focuses on getting the alcohol out of our system as quickly as possible which means hitting “pause” on the metabolism of everything else (such as glucose from carbs and lipids from fats). This means the liver has to work overtime, and calories from your food are more likely to get stored as fat than burned for fuel.
  2. Alcohol is the second most caloric macro-nutrient. One gram of alcohol contains 7 calories, just after fat which contains 9 calories per gram. " Alcohol is also considered “empty” calories which means it contains calories that have zero nutritional value. To give context, there are about 125 calories in a serving (5oz) of wine, and 155 calories in a serving (12oz) of beer – imagine what this looks like after a night out with a few drinks! These calories eventually end up stored as fat in the body, and unfortunately that fat tends to accumulate in the abdomen (i.e. beer belly
  3. Binge drinking (defined as consuming more than 4-5 drinks in a sitting) and heavy drinking (more than four drinks per day for men and more than three per day for women) both significantly raise risk of obesity. Even moderate drinking may be linked to weight gain and increased incidence of chronic disease such as fatty liver, cardiovascular disease, ulcers and GI issues, and type 2 diabetes. Fatty liver disease adversely affects how your body breaks down and stores energy from food - making it quite difficult to lose weight. Alcohol also impairs digestion and the absorption of nutrients – two factors that play a key role in weight management.
  4. Alcohol is a diuretic. Not only is it a diuretic, but when you are drinking alcohol you’re much less likely to be drinking water – setting the perfect stage for dehydration. Dehydration causes fatigue, which often leads to increased consumption of sugary or high-fat foods in an effort to increase energy levels. Additionally, people often mistake dehydration with hunger –hence reaching for slice of pizza rather than a glass of water.
  5. Drinking alcohol has a negative effect on sleep, which significantly affects weight loss. In an effort to break down alcohol overnight, we are less able to enter a REM state – thereby leading to a poor night’s rest. Getting just one less hour of sleep can increase calorie consumption the next day by up to 500 calories! Additionally, sleep deprivation can adversely impact the hormones responsible for regulating hunger, energy storage, and feelings of fullness.
  6. Contrary to popular belief, alcohol is actually a It can negatively impact your mood and mindset not only in the moment, but up to 48 hours post consumption! Feeling sad, anxious or alone often causes people to turn to “comfort food” as a means to feeling better. As we know, not only does this not actually work, but in fact often leaves us feeling even worse (not to mention further derailing weight loss goals).
  7. Alcohol lowers inhibitions, stimulates appetite and negatively impacts decision-making. No matter how committed you are to your diet or weight-loss plan, when alcohol is involved, you’re much more likely to overeat or give in to temptations and cravings.

If you are “sober curious”, we highly recommend giving up alcohol for a month and see how you feel! You’ll be shocked at the positive impact it has on your health and well-being in just a short period of time—you’ll sleep better, have more energy, eat less, boost your metabolism, reduce (or eliminate) unhealthy food cravings, improve your skin, and lower your risk of many chronic diseases. Let us know if you give it a try – we’d love to hear your experience!