Can I Drink Alcohol and Still Lose Weight?


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Group of friends enjoying a dinner party

As long as you stay within the number of calories you need each day to lose weight, alcohol can make up part of your calorie intake. However, if you're watching your weight, keep in mind that alcohol is not a true nutrient. It is empty. Alcohol can be problematic for a number of unfamiliar reasons:

  • Alcohol is calorie-dense. There are seven calories per gram of alcohol and because it contains no nutrients you consume only empty calories every time you top off that wine glass.
  • Alcohol decreases your body's ability to burn fat. Because the body perceives alcohol as a toxin, it gives priority to metabolizing and excreting it from the body's systems. The body's fat-burning process is slowed down and fat storage is promoted, especially in the belly. Having a "spare tire" there is particularly detrimental to your health.
  • Alcohol stimulates your appetite by upsetting the appetite regulation system that normally tells you when you have eaten enough which is not a good thing if you're trying to lose a few pounds.
  • Alcohol loosens inhibitions. This can cause your resolve to stick to healthy eating and to limit your drinks to fade the more you drink. To stop this from happening, tell a friend your plans for the evening and enlist their help in ensuring you stick to them.
  • Snack foods high in salt and fat are often eaten when drinking. Be wary of the snack foods provided by some bars; not only may these be high in fat and calories, a danger in itself, but their saltiness may encourage you to drink more. If you're interested in weight control, consider bypassing these high-fat, high-salt snacks. Instead eat something healthy before you go out, and have a glass of water.