Losing Weight: Should You Stop Drinking Alcohol?

If you want to lose weight but can't give up alcohol, you should know that engaging in this habit could hinder your weight loss efforts. While moderate alcohol intake may not be associated with obesity, heavy drinking (more than three drinks for women daily, and more than 4 for men) and binge drinking (having five or more alcoholic beverages in one sitting) can spell trouble.

Alcoholic beverages, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), contain lots of calories but no nutrients. As the calories in these beverages offer no nutritional value, they are referred to as “empty calories.” Some drinks may have traces of vitamins and minerals, but only in extremely small amounts, which won’t benefit your health and diet. 

Alcohol and weight gain

Apart from the fact that alcohol contains empty calories, the said beverage can contribute to weight gain because it stops the body from burning fat. Extra calories from the alcohol end up stored as fat in the body, leading to extra weight or fat that tends to accumulate in the abdominal area. Some drinks also have mixers like soda and juice, which then adds extra calories. 

Family doctors in South Jordan note that alcohol consumption can also lead to weight gain because it makes you feel hungry and causes you to make poor food choices. Keep in mind, however, that whether or not you gain weight from drinking can depend on a number of factors such as:
  • The type of alcoholic beverages you drink
  • How much you drink
  • Your food choices when you drink
  • How often you drink
  • Your genetics, gender, and age
  • Lifestyle (diet, level of exercise, vices)
  • Your health

Alcohol and changes in the body

You should also know that alcohol alters the way your body works, with changes adding up after years of heavy drinking. Some of the negative effects of alcohol include:
  • Weaker immune system
  • Shrinking brain
  • Thinning bones
  • Increased risk of developing serious health concerns like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancers
  • Liver damage
  • Stomach distress

Cut back and lose weight

When it comes to losing weight, it is best to do it gradually, without diet pills. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those who lose weight slowly and steadily (about one to two pounds per week) are more successful at keeping their weight off. CDC also noted that a healthy weight loss is about a continuing lifestyle that includes long-term changes in your diet and exercise habits.

As losing weight also means consuming fewer calories daily, you need to cut back on alcohol. If you enjoy drinking a glass of wine every night or can’t end the day without drinking some beer while watching TV, for instance, it may be the time to start changing your drinking habits. Here are also a few things that can help you cut back:

  • Don’t store alcohol at home.
  • Set a goal or limit on how much you’ll drink. You can follow the recommended guidelines (no more than one standard drink for women and no more than two drinks for men). If you have health conditions, it is best to stop drinking or ask your doctor for the right limit.
  • Drink slowly or drink water after an alcoholic beverage.
  • Have alcohol-free days (a day or two every week)
  • Refuse politely when friends ask you to drink. You can also decide to stay away from friends who like drinking or encourage you to do so.
  • Start a new hobby or revisit an old one to stay busy.
Apart from cutting back on alcohol, you should be smart about your food choices. You can also benefit from consulting your family doctor for other ways of losing weight and cutting back on drinking.

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