I get a lot of questions from people who say they struggle losing weight because of their alcohol consumption.
Most people ask if they need to cut out alcohol completely to lose weight. Plus, we may know “that friend” who said they gave up alcohol for a month and lost 10 lbs. Sounds tempting for us too. Oftentimes, when we worry our alcohol consumption is limiting our weight loss, we commit to living wine-free, or give up our beer on weekends in the name of getting fit.
But is that strategy necessary and effective long term?
What happens when we run into alcohol at a gathering, or we want to enjoy wine with a friend?
Instead of fearing being around alcohol or feeling the need to swear it off forever, wouldn’t it be more effective to learn how to balance and enjoy an occasional drink and still lose weight?
WHAT THIS BLOG POST WILL AND WILL NOT COVER RELATED TO ALCOHOL
Quick disclaimer first… this email will cover balancing alcohol consumption with weight loss. Some of the tips may not apply to those who struggle with alcohol addiction (where cutting alcohol out completely may be the best choice). You know yourself best, and if abstaining from alcohol is what’s right for you then this email may not apply. Listen to your body.
With that said, I do want to cover alcohol as it relates to fat loss.
First, why does alcohol make it harder to lose body fat?
4 WAYS ALCOHOL CAN CAUSE FAT GAIN
1) Every gram of alcohol has about 7 calories
- For comparison, every gram of carbohydrates and protein has 4 calories. This can make calories can add up quickly over time.
2) Most people underestimate how much they are drinking
- For example, they figure a glass of wine has 5 oz, but when measured, it’s closer to 10 oz or more.
3) BIG REASON: When we drink, our bodies stop burning fat or metabolizing sugars to focus on metabolizing alcohol first.
- Our bodies view alcohol as a toxin and we will stop burning the fats and sugars we consume to instead concentrate on metabolizing the alcohol we consume first. This can slow the rate our bodies will lose weight.
4) When we drink our inhibitions are down
- When our inhibitions are down this can lead to increased drinking or mindless snacking.
After reading this you may be convinced you have to cut alcohol out completely to lose body fat. BUT, if you’ve been on my email list a while, you know that’s not my style. My #NoBannedFoods weight loss strategy of moderation also applies to alcoholic beverages.
With that in mind….
HERE’S 4 WAYS YOU CAN LOSE WEIGHT WHILE STILL DRINKING ALCOHOL
1) Drink alcohol in moderation and track how your body responds.
- From coaching folks over the years it’s become obvious that some people can drink more alcohol than others and lose weight. We all have unique metabolisms. While we typically don’t need to cut out alcohol completely to lose weight, find your “sweet spot,” where you can enjoy drinking in moderation, but still lose weight. Some people may be able to enjoy 1 glass of wine each evening and lose weight. Others can only do 1-2 drinks per week. Experiment with different amounts and find what works for your metabolism!
2) Pay attention to portion sizes (measure) and/or plan ahead of time.
- I was SO guilty of underestimating portions, until one day I measured my usual glass of wine. It was surprising to see the “5 oz” glass of wine I drank was really closer to 10 oz. We don’t need to be neurotic and constantly measure every time we drink, but you should measure occasional to know what a serving size looks like. I now know how many ounces I’m drinking by the decorations on my glass. And practice logging it on a calorie tracking app (like My Fitness Pal) occasionally to see how this impacts your total calories for the day.
3) Choose lower calorie drinks and low calorie mixers (when possible).
- Choose wine, light beer, or simple cocktails with low-calorie mixers the majority of the time. Lighter mixers include: water, club soda, coffee or tea, sugar-free margarita mix, diet soda, light orange juice, and more.
4) Drink water or calorie-free beverages in between drinks.
- Have an alcoholic beverage and then follow it with a calorie-free beverage like club soda, water, or diet soda before you get a second alcoholic beverage.
For those who follow me on social media, you may have seen my #WineDownFriday posts. My husband and I LOVE visiting wineries and we often toast the weekend with a glass of vino. By following the strategies above, I’ve been able to continue my #NoBannedFoods weight loss, while maintaining good health and fat loss.