Alcohol and Weight Loss – Please note, the above is intended to benefit those who can drink alcohol moderately and responsibly. You must know your limits, and balance your alcohol if you’re looking to lose weight. If you are drinking an excessive amount of alcohol often, then it’s probably best to not drink any alcohol at all.
However, it’s never a good idea to just suddenly stop, especially if you’re suffering from addiction, in which case, it’s probably best to seek out the help of a dedicated alcohol rehab facility, Ultimately, abstaining from excessive alcohol consumption during a weight loss journey is essential. Consuming alcohol in general has many negative long-term as well as short-term health effects.
However, one can still see progress toward fitness goals by consuming moderate amounts of alcohol and following the six tips I described above. Choose spirits over beer and liqueur; use fresh/low-calorie ingredients; avoid eating anytime within the hour or during the time you’re drinking alcohol; eat lean protein along with plenty of nutrient-dense vegetables the day before and the day after consumption; track all of your calories including alcohol; and finally, if you’re going to drink, red wine is a good choice.
Which alcohol is lowest in calories?
It’s more than understandable to want to kick back with a drink at the end of a long day. While there’s no shame in that game, it’s easy to forget the liquid calories you’re sipping. A calorie is a unit of energy that comes from food and drinks, according to Nemours Children’s Health,
If you are keeping track of the calories in your diet, you might want to consider low-calorie alcoholic beverages. The lowest-calorie alcohol is vodka, which only has 100 calories in a 50-millimeter shot. Other alcohols among those with the lowest calories are whisky, gin, and tequila, which all have about 110 calories per shot.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, alcohol is basically empty calories. “Calories from alcohol can add up fast,” Christy Brissette, MS, RD, owner of 80 Twenty Nutrition, said. “And, because alcohol doesn’t provide nutrients or fill you up, these calories are usually in addition to what you’re already eating and drinking.” Drinking also can make you feel less inhibited, so you’re more likely to overeat, Brissette said.
- While some forms of alcohol contain a fair number of calories on their own (looking at you, triple sec), a big issue in all of this is mixers, Keri Gans, MS, RD, author of The Small Change Diet, said.
- Many of the mixers we add to alcoholic drinks are high in sugar and provide no nutritional benefit,” Gans said.
The good news is you don’t need to swap your chardonnay for seltzer every time you want to celebrate. “To cut calories in most drinks, you can play with the ratios of ingredients,” Beth Warren, MS, RD, founder of Beth Warren Nutrition and author of Secrets of a Kosher Girl, said.
Add more ice or sparkling waterTop your drink off with fresh fruit juice (with no added sugar)Try a natural sweetener instead of regular sugar or syrup
MedlinePlus also suggests using diet tonics, calorie-free mixers, lemonade, lightly sweetened iced teas, herbs, fruit, or vegetables for flavoring drinks without increasing calorie consumption. With that in mind, these are some of the lowest-calorie alcoholic drinks you can serve up, including easy tweaks to some popular favorites.
- Margaritas can be calorie bombs thanks to lots of sugar and triple sec.
- Pre-made mixers can also be an issue due to high sugar content, Brissette said.
- To get around that, Brissette recommended using fresh lime juice, tequila, and a dash of agave syrup on the rocks.
- You’ll keep the sugar and calories down,” Brissette said.
Want to add some nutrients to the mix? Health’s contributing nutrition editor Cynthia Sass, RD, recommended using avocado, mango, and orange juice for a hefty dose of essential vitamins and minerals. A gin and tonic is a classic combination, but it can pack a lot of calories.
Why? Tonic water is generally made with high-fructose corn syrup, the same sweetener that’s found in cola—and a 12-ounce can of tonic contains eight teaspoons of added sugar, Sass said. Enter seltzer. “Adding seltzer to a cocktail is always a great choice since it provides zero calories and zero grams of sugar,” Gans said.
A gin and seltzer lets you get that same bubbly feel and gin taste without all the added calories. Yes, small amounts of alcohol, including red wine, can be a part of a low-calorie lifestyle. But are you sabotaging yourself with a heavy-handed pour? It’s all too easy and common to consume too much, Sass said.
But sticking with the proper serving size—five ounces—and having just one glass of wine in a sitting will help keep calories down. “It’s a good choice in terms of calories,” Warren said. Pro tip, per Brissette: Go for drier varietals like sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir. These tend to be lower in sugar and calories, Brissette pointed out.
Like wine, portions matter here, Gans said. “A classic vodka or gin martini is around 120 calories—however, that is if only a single shot of alcohol is included and around 1/3 of an ounce of vermouth.” While martinis are notoriously strong, Brissette said that could be a good thing when it comes to calories.
“Sipping on such a strong cocktail probably means you’ll drink it more slowly than a sweeter drink made with juice or syrup,” Brissette said. If you want a little flavor in the mix, Brissette recommended adding a twist of lemon to infuse a citrusy taste or making your drink dirty with a splash of olive juice—it only adds about five calories.
Is rum and Coke your go-to drink? According to MedlinePlus, eight ounces of rum mixed with Diet Coke has a lower calorie count than its counterpart. If you want to amp up the taste without adding a ton of calories, you could always add a squeeze of fresh lime juice to your glass as well.
A chilled white wine can be refreshing, but pick the type you sip on carefully. Dry white wines, such as sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio, tend to have lower sugar content, which translates to fewer calories, Suss said. Sweeter varieties like Riesling could have more calories. And, again, serving size matters.
You want to strive for five ounces which, Gans pointed out, is “a smaller pour than most of us do.” Beer is often considered the ultimate bloat-bringer, but it may not be that bad. “Beers contain several B vitamins,” explained Sass. “A 12-ounce beer also packs more calcium, magnesium, and selenium, which is a key antioxidant, than a serving of wine.” Many beers don’t list calories on their labels, so Brissette recommended trying this hack: “Look for a beer that has an alcohol by volume of four, and you’ll be getting about 100 calories for a 12-ounce (serving).” A vodka soda may be your healthiest choice if you’re in the mood for hard alcohol.
- When you combine a shot of vodka with seltzer, you skirt excess calories—and a nasty hangover.
- Soda water or club soda is calorie-free since it’s just bubbly water,” Sass said.
- It’s also a good cocktail mixer because it hydrates and contains no added sugars or artificial sweeteners.
- Plus, the bubbles may slow you down, so you don’t slam the drink.” The rules of picking out a lower-calorie champagne are the same as they are for wine.
“When choosing your champagne, know that ‘dry’ means less sugar and calories,” Brissette said. You can also look for “brut” on the label, which is French for unsweetened or dry. A mojito combines muddled mint leaves, rum, soda water, and sugar. You want to strive for a six-ounce serving with this one.
- Gans said it might be bigger if you get your mojito from a restaurant or bar.
- Also, scaling back on how much sugar you use or swapping in a sweetener for regular sugar can help cut back on calories, according to the Harvard School of Public Health,
- Think of a Paloma as the grapefruit lover’s alternative to a margarita.
It features tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and soda water for a margarita-style taste. “This refreshing drink is a lighter alternative to a margarita which is typically made with plenty of agave and/or plenty of sugar-sweetened bar lime,” Brissette said.
Use fresh grapefruit juice instead of bottled to save on calories. If you are keeping track of the calories in your diet, you may need to make a few adjustments with the amount of ice, type of sweetener, or kind of mixer in your alcoholic beverages to reduce the calories. Otherwise, drinks like wine, champagne, and light beer will do the trick to keeping the calories down.
If you enjoy going to brunch, mimosas may be on the menu. Mimosas typically come with two ingredients: orange juice and sparkling wine or champagne. Depending on how it’s made, four ounces of a mimosa is less than 100 calories, per MedlinePlus. So you might want to opt for a low-calorie orange juice or wine and champagne options that are less sweet.
Why do I have a beer belly when I’m skinny?
Skinny people with protruding pot belly fat should not follow conventional weight-loss advice, since eating less food will make them weigh even less and weaker due to muscle loss. Eating less food doesn’t fix the cause of the chronic inflammation. Common reasons for people to become skinny is:
Not eating enough total protein to support muscle growth Not doing resistance exercise, such as bodyweight resistance training or lifting weights
Common reasons for someone to have belly fat even when they’re skinny is:
Being too sedentary (inactive), which builds visceral fat around the organs and abdominal fat. Eating too many processed foods, which stores at the belly. They are in the early stages of developing heart disease and diabetes due to a lifestyle/diet that fuels inflammation
Common reasons for someone’s posture to make their belly protrude even further
Being skinny, which would make their core and stabilizer muscles weak. Sitting too much, making their body adapt to sitting, so when they stand their belly pushes out, and the head moves forward for balance
The roadmap for fixing fixing the skinny-fat belly for good:
Overhaul your diet to eat more protein and mainly whole food (instead of processed food.) Eat 0.8g of protein per bodyweight pound that you want to weigh Begin resistance training
Do 3x resistance workouts a week
Become more active and less sedentary
Try walking 10,000 steps every day, no breaks, for thirty days. Do it outside in the sunshine and fresh air as much as possible.
Do simple breathing and postural drills for faster results on the protruding belly posture issue
If you’d like more guidance on this topic, be sure to join the Outlive newsletter below. You can also check out:
The Skinny Fat Fix program for men. The Stubborn Fat Fix For Women program,
Will vodka make you fat?
If you’re trying to maintain a healthy weight, the first step is to look at what you’re eating regularly and decide if it’s helping you meet your nutritional goals. But it’s not just paying attention to food. What you drink can be a factor too, including the beers you might enjoy during a summer cookout or the bottle of wine you share with a friend over dinner.
Weight is certainly not the only factor when it comes to health, but if you think booze may be affecting your weight, there are a few things you may want to know about alcohol intake and body composition. You might have heard the term “empty calories” used in relation to alcohol. This means your body can convert the calories from alcohol to energy, but those calories contain little to no beneficial nutrients or minerals, Krissy Maurin, MS, ACT, lead wellness coordinator at Providence St.
Joseph Hospital’s Wellness Center told Health, “Alcohol isn’t treated like other nutrients in food; in fact, the digestive system works extra hard to eliminate it from the body, prioritizing the elimination of alcohol ahead of all other nutrients,” Maurin said.
“If you were to have a meal with your alcoholic beverage, the nutrient uptake from the meal would be greatly decreased due to the body working so hard to eliminate the alcohol from the body.” Typically, carbohydrates are the body’s first choice to digest for energy from food, but that completely changes when alcohol is consumed.
“The body recognizes alcohol as toxic and shuts down its ability to access all other stored macronutrients—carbs, proteins, and fat—in order to utilize and burn off the alcohol first,” Maurin explained. Though you may have heard the term “beer belly” before, Maurin said the belief that alcoholic beverages cause increased fat stores around the stomach area isn’t accurate.
In fact, a very small percentage of the calories you drink from alcohol is turned into fat. “The main effect of alcohol is to reduce the amount of fat your body can burn for energy,” Maurin explained. “You are basically shutting down your metabolism, which then leads to weight gain.” In general, drinks made with alcohol are high in calories.
“Protein and carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram, fat has 9 but alcohol has 7,” Ginger Hultin MS, RDN, owner of ChampagneNutrition, told Health. “When you look at mixers like juices, soda, syrups, cream, whipped cream, or coconut milk, the calories in an alcoholic beverage can be really high.” Speaking of syrups and whipped cream, some cocktails can be sneakily high in calories.
- Some margaritas, daiquiris, and pina coladas can be very high in added sugar and saturated fat,” Hultin added.
- If you want to drink alcohol and are keeping your weight in mind, Hultin suggested several lower-calorie options.
- Hultin’s recommendations include beers with a lower ABV (alcohol by volume), like Pilsners or Lagers (which are around 100 calories per bottle, compared to 150 calories in a “regular” beer), and dry red or white wine (which are around 120 calories per 5-ounce glass).
“Aim for 4% to 5% ABV in beer and 10% to 12% in wine,” Hultin said. If beer and wine don’t get your taste buds going, spirits mixed with water or soda water can also be a lower-calorie option, like vodka and soda, which has about 100 calories per standard 7.5-ounce glass.
Hormones play a crucial role in the healthy functioning of the body’s tissues and organs. “When the hormone system is working properly, the right amount of hormone is released at exactly the right time, and the tissues of the body accurately respond to those messages,” Maurin explained. Drinking alcohol can impair the functions of the glands that release hormones and the functions of the tissues targeted by those hormones, which can result in a range of health issues.
“Alcohol consumption causes increased levels of the hormone cortisol, which has been linked to weight gain,” Maurin said. According to a 2013 review published in Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America, long-term, excessive alcohol intake can cause hormone changes that disrupt thyroid function, immunity, and bone health to name a few.
- Scientists are still trying to figure out exactly how much alcohol causes this increase in cortisol.
- There’s no black-and-white answer here; everyone is unique in how their bodies react and break down alcohol,” Maurin explained.
- Maurin also noted that many studies on this topic include an “intoxicated” study group and/or alcohol-dependent individuals, who may require a larger amount of alcohol to be affected.
It’s not unusual for people to use alcohol as a sleep aid. “Since alcohol has sedative effects that can induce feelings of relaxation and sleepiness, it can help an individual unwind and get settled for bed,” Maurin explained. However, Maurin pointed out that consumption of alcohol—especially in excess—has been linked to poor sleep quality and duration.
- In fact, individuals who are dependent on alcohol commonly experience insomnia symptoms,” Maurin said.
- Many people find their sleep is quite disrupted after drinking alcohol, and sleep deprivation is strongly linked to weight gain over time,” Hultin said.
- According to a small 2016 study published in Sleep, during the sleep-deprived phase of the study, participants consumed more food and found it harder to resist tempting snacks.
After a couple of drinks, the munchies often kick in—meaning you’re more likely to grab any quick and easy snack without really thinking about it. Those hunger pangs are caused by a couple of different things, Hultin explained. First of all, alcohol can cause blood sugar levels to dip.
“This can trigger hunger cues and sometimes cravings for carbohydrate-rich foods,” Hultin said. People with diabetes should be extra careful: According to the American Diabetes Association, alcohol combined with diabetes medications can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), especially when consumed on an empty stomach.
Also, researchers have found that alcohol affects an area of the brain that controls appetite and this can cause intense hunger, especially the day after drinking. According to a 2017 study published in Nature Communications, the nerve cells in the brain’s hypothalamus that are generally activated by actual starvation can be stimulated by alcohol.
- Those intense hunger cues can make you reach for high-calorie foods, like pizza and burgers.
- There’s also evidence that alcohol can influence hormones linked to feeling full, such as leptin, a hormone that suppresses appetite, and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which inhibits food intake.
- The end result is eating more food than usual because signals to stop eating are blunted by alcohol.
“This is paired with the fact that alcohol lowers inhibitions, meaning many people reach for foods that they’d normally avoid, such as those high in fat or sodium,” Hultin added. Alcohol can have various effects on your health. To help keep your body working at its best, be aware of your alcohol consumption.
Can I drink wine and still lose weight?
The Best Wines for Weight Loss – Not all wine is created equal. We’re huge proponents of that idea here at Vinebox. But it doesn’t just come down to quality, taste, and experience. There’s actually a big difference in calorie and carbohydrate counts among wine varieties.
- If your goal is to lose weight, the best wine to enjoy will be a lower calorie, lower carb wine that will have a minimal impact on your daily nutrition.
- The best wine for weight loss is dry wine like Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Merlot or a dry sparkling white wine.
- Sweet wines have significantly higher calorie and carb counts, which can leave you struggling to reach your healthy goals.
Here’s a quick reference guide for wine calorie and carbohydrate counts.
|Type of Wine
|Sparkling White Wine
|Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio
|Late Harvest White
Each bottle is different, so these are approximate values that should be used as a guide. Estimates are made based on a standard 5 ounce serving.