Drinking alcohol and losing weight

Drinking alcohol and losing weight at the same time, is it possible?
Does drinking alcohol while dieting stop, hinder or slow your results? How does drinking alcohol impact your diet? Does it impact your ability to build muscle?

To make it really simple, drinking alcohol will impact your weight loss. It won’t necessarily stop it, but it can impact it.
It is maybe not the answer you want, but it is the truth. There are three main reasons for this. 

  1. The total amount of calories you get in your body, alcohol contains calories or more exact carbohydrates too. 
  2. You are more prone to snacking
  3. Alcohol is poison to your body and it will prioritize burning alcohol over food
  4. If you drink a lot and get hungover it can impact your workout regime

So, let’s have a closer look at these four reasons. 

1. Calories

The first reason why alcohol might not be the top 1 thing you should consume while dieting is probably the most obvious one. Beer, wine, drinks or spirits contain calories. 

Beer and spirits typically, depending on the kind, contains more calories than wine. The number of carbohydrates the different alcoholic drinks contain depends on the type/ brand etc. 

Drinks typically contain the most since they are often sweetened with sugar or soft drinks. 

Photo by Kobby Mendez on Unsplash

Since losing weight comes down to the number of macros or calories you consume and are able to burn consuming alcohol will add to this number. Unless you account for it of course. 

As an example, let’s say you’re on a diet and can consume 1700 calories per 24 hours. You enjoy a beer in the evening or a drink which adds extra calories and carbs to your daily intake.  

Hence, you’ll consume more calories than you should in order to reach your goal. 

From this perspective what you can do is simply subtract the number of calories and carbohydrates that you will get from drinks from what you eat during a day. Consequently, eat less in order to consume alcohol. However, I strongly would not recommend this for several reasons, but theoretically, that is what you could do.

The reason I wouldn’t recommend it is that besides alcohol not being healthy. There is a huge difference in drinking and eating your calories. Eating your calories will make you full and provide your body with the building blocks it needs, drinking your calories won’t

2. Snacking

When you drink you are more prone to snacking. Research posted by Nature shows that during intoxication your brain activates certain neurons that make you think you’re hungry.  

This means you are probably more likely to eat more when you drink alcohol than you would otherwise. 

Also, we all know that drinking alcohol can reduce our judgment, decision-making skills and that we typically become easier to convince and less headstrong. Therefore, we can also be more inclined to eat unhealthy foods and too much of it. 

3. Poison

The third important aspect you should consider while dieting is one that many are not that familiar with.

Alcohol itself is considered poison to the body studies show, hence, the body does not like alcohol.

Since the body doesn’t like alcohol it will try as fast as it can to get rid of the alcohol that you are consuming.

Simply but his means that your body will prioritize getting rid of the alcohol – the poison before anything else you have consumed. 

What we also know is that the calories the body doesn’t need it’ll store, as fat. So, if your body burns off the alcohol first it will maybe get what it needs. Then what about that burger you ate, or that cake? Well, since your body doesn’t need it right now, it will store the burger and cake for a later day, as fat. 

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

What will also happen is that burning the calories from the beers will take precedence over using the protein and healthy fat from the beef in that burger you just ate. So, in addition to storing the carbohydrates, it won’t be able to focus on using the protein from the beef to rebuild your muscles and recover. 

So, your body considering alcohol as poison can actually have a huge impact on your diet. It can slow down your weight loss process and your ability to recover and increase muscle mass.

4. Being hungover

Last but not least, we know that drinking too much leads to alcohol poisoning. The way the body reacts is by being what we call hungover. 

If you have ever experienced being hungover you are prone to two things. Eat bad stuff and don’t work out. 

Do yourself a favor and don’t stay in bed all day because you’re hungover
Photo by jurien huggins on Unsplash

We have already been through the eat bad stuff, so what I’ll focus on here is the not working out part. 

Missing one workout might not be the end of the world, but if you regularly miss out this will have an impact on your weight loss, diet and training goals. 

So, if you are drinking wine or beer, maybe do yourself a favor, don’t drink too much. Not only because alcohol consumption is not healthy, and because of all the reasons above, but also because it might keep you from going to the gym or going for that run. 


I can really enjoy a good Argentinian wine with my steak on a Friday night!
Photo by Lefteris kallergis on Unsplash

To conclude. You can and you will lose weight if you drink alcohol while dieting (depending on the amounts of course). But it can be harder and take you longer to get the results you need.

Personally, I must say that I have a glass of wine on Friday or Saturday, but rarely drink excessively. The reasons are plenty, it’s generally unhealthy, impacts my workout regime, makes me prone to eating more. But most of all, it makes me feel really awful (aka hungover) the next day. I’m just too fond of my body and mind feeling great to be hungover. 

However, when I first started on a strict diet about 5 years ago and I want to lose quite a lot of weight I went for a long time without drinking alcohol. Simply because of the reasons above, I wanted my body to recover and build muscle, and I didn’t want to miss a workout. 

I really hope this post gives not only the tools but also the inspiration and food for thought as to how you should think about alcohol while dieting. 

Good luck!

Featured image photo cred: Photo by Vincent Ghilione on Unsplash

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