How Alcohol Affects Weight Loss
Nov 25, 2015

How Alcohol Affects Weight Loss

Cocktails, beer, wine and spirits are part of the social fabric of many countries around the world, especially around the holidays.  Alcohol consumption can be a confusing, slippery slope for those who are on diets, so knowing how alcohol affects weight loss is an important factor to consider. There are many “low carb” and “low fat” alcoholic beverages for sale on the market today, but their labeling can be misleading for consumers.

One standard alcoholic drink, such as beer, wine and spirits will generally have about 100 to 150 calories. However, when you add mixers loaded with sugar and fat, you could be drinking up 300-500 calories per beverage. For example, a single Daiquiri or Margarita is about 270 calories or more; a single Mai Tai is a whopping 310 calories!

Alcohol Has Negative Effects on Your Body

The amount of calories in an alcoholic beverage is an important factor to consider when trying to lose weight, but certainly not the only one. Alcohol can also have a negative effect on your body’s ability to metabolize efficiently, because once alcohol enters your system, your body makes metabolizing it a priority over everything else. The reason this happens is because, unlike protein, carbohydrates, and fat, there is nowhere for alcohol to be stored in your body, so it has to be metabolized before you can process anything else. This means that your body will stop processing healthy things you actually need like protein, carbohydrates, and fats, in order for the alcohol to be metabolized, and those other macronutrients will cause more weight gain.

Not only that, alcohol is so dense calorically, with approximately seven calories in each gram, that the body processes it more like a fat than a carbohydrate.

Alcohol is also dehydrating, which causes your body to retain water.

Most people find they crave high calorie foods after drinking, and end up eating a high calorie street vendor meal or fast food, not to mention next day hang over cravings.  This obviously can cause a huge dent in your weight loss efforts.

ThinWorks Tips:

Consume as little alcohol as possible while trying to lose weight. If you start a weight loss program and are a big daily drinker, start by reducing your consumption. Eventually reduce this amount to 1 or 2 drinks per week and then stop completely during the program to optimize your weight loss.

Drink low carb cocktails or “light” beverages, if you are out socially and feel pressured. Remember, these alcoholic drinks are not calorie-free, so limit your intake to 1 or 2.

Doctors do not recommend drinking at all while taking prescription medication. Remember to consult your physician or pharmacist regarding alcohol use with any prescribed medication.

Don’t ever drink on an empty stomach. While you are dieting, you will become intoxicated much more quickly, so pace yourself if you are going out for the night.

Drink a glass of water between drinks. Have your water garnished with a lime, if you’re concerned about others asking questions. This will also help with dehydration.


Alcohol consumption is really not necessary in a healthy, balanced diet. It provides empty calories, inhibits metabolism, impairs judgment, stimulates cravings, and creates feelings of hunger. If you are thinking about starting a weight loss program or need more questions answered about reducing, balancing, or eliminating your alcohol intake while losing weight, call ThinWorks for a free consultation at 561-249-1638.