Alcohol and Weight Loss


Quite simply, you’re drinking calories. That’s not ideal. But the basic science behind it is your body burns calories from alcohol first, so any food you’re taking in with that drink gets stored as energy.

Courtesy of Sonja Maric

First and foremost, enjoy alcohol responsibly. Someone out there loves you and depends on you, and a lot can change in an instant. And please note, this is no way intended to be any kind of clinical advice. If you’re struggling with any kind of addiction or addictive behaviors, you are encouraged to seek professional services and treatment. There is no shame in asking for help and leaning on services that specialize in meeting a unique need. Our thoughts, prayers, and well wishes are with anyone battling alcoholism, or any other addiction.

Weight Loss Is Hard.

Weight loss is hard enough without beer, salty treats, and long nights. Fluctuations happen for a host of reasons and the number on the scale doesn’t always make sense. Alcohol can complicate that process, but it doesn’t have to. It takes some careful planning and some awareness of how alcohol affects weight loss, but I’ll outline a few basic tips and tricks for you, right here!

First Things First.

First, I want to mention why it’s hard to enjoy alcohol and lose weight. Quite simply, you’re drinking calories. That’s not ideal. But the basic science behind it is your body burns calories from alcohol first, so any food you’re taking in with that drink gets stored as energy. Your body assumes it’s going to need those calories later because it knows there is alcohol in your system. And naturally, if you don’t burn that energy, it turns to fat. Food that is taken in with alcohol tends to be loaded with carbs, salty, and calorie dense. Foods like pretzels, chips, pizza, wings, etc., have a lot of calories per serving/gram.

A Few Practical Tips.

  • Have a plan of how many drinks you will limit yourself to, and tell your friends. Have them hold you to it.
  • Look for lower calorie drink options you may have never considered before. Ask the bartender or server if you’re not sure of what to get — it’s their job to answer your questions and most would be happy to help you find the best drink for your calorie budget.
  • Stick to your budget. If you give yourself 250 calories for drinks, do your best to stick to that.
  • Load up on some low-calorie density, healthy foods before heading out for drinks. You’re less inclined to reach for calorie dense or salty snacks if ate a big salad before hand.
  • If you enjoy something like wine or hard seltzer, cut the alcoholic drink with some plain or flavored seltzer water. You’ll reduce the alcohol percentage and cut the calories.