Weight Loss and Alcohol: What’s the Relationship?

Does drinking alcohol make you gain weight? Is there a limit to how much I should have? How many calories are in a single serving? 

These are all common questions we get here at G-Plans. Alcohol is known for being related to weight gain, but not all drinks have the same effect. If you’d like to know the answers to some of these questions, keep reading!


How Does Alcohol Affect the Body?

Alcohol is very high in calories, with an average 5-ounce glass of wine equaling about 125 calories and a 12-ounce can of beer equaling about 155 calories. Alcohol is known as “empty calories,” meaning it is high in calories but very low in nutrients. Many alcoholic drinks, especially wines and mixed drinks, contain a lot of sugar and a lot of extra calories. Because of these high levels of calories and sugar, your body uses it as the primary fuel source. So that healthy baked chicken and fresh vegetable salad you had for dinner are going to be stored in the body as fat for future use. Similarly, alcohol causes inflammation in the body. Inflammation is notorious for making it difficult to lose weight.



Unfortunately, the term “beer belly” isn’t a myth. Beer is very high in calories and sugar, which ends up as stored fat in the body. Because of the brewing process, beer naturally is high in carbohydrates. Beers with a higher alcohol percentage tend to contain more carbs and calories. However, lower alcohol percentage beers aren’t considered much healthier either. Plus, beer tends to cause uncomfortable, intestinal bloating.



While there are many positive health benefits to having a glass of wine a few times a week, many people will be shocked to know how high-calorie wine can be. White wines generally have fewer calories than red wines, but can still average out to about 140 calories for a 6-ounce glass. Like beer, alcohol content and calories tend to go hand in hand, with higher alcohol wines being higher in calories. High-calorie red wines like pinot noir and syrah can even be up to 200 calories for a 6-ounce glass!



Clear and dark liquors have the same effect on the body as other forms of alcohol, but tend to have much fewer calories and sugar. Mixed drinks and cocktails often contain sugary beverages and syrups, sometimes making them around 400 calories per serving! However, liquor on its own is very low in calories, carbs, and sugar (if even any!). Gin, whiskey, vodka, and tequila are all low in carbs and calories. 


So, is it okay to drink alcohol when you’re trying to lose weight?


Final Verdict: Yes! In moderation. It isn’t a crime to have an occasional drink, especially after a long day at work. You don’t have to cut out alcohol to lose weight, but you do need to be smart about your consumption. 


Here are a few tips on how to stick with your diet and have a drink (or two) :

  • Hydrate! Alcohol naturally dehydrates the body and can lead to nasty hangovers. Having a sip of water between every sip will keep you hydrated and help you drink less.
  • Stick to clears. Clear liquors tend to be very low in calories. Next time you’re out for a night on the town, try having clear liquids on the rocks or mixed with low-calorie mixes such as club soda or a slice of lemon.
  • Eat before drinking! Having food in your stomach decreases the rate that alcohol is absorbed into your body, minimizing all the adverse effects. Plus, on a fuller stomach, you’re likely to drink less!
  • Use smaller glasses. By pouring your drinks into smaller glasses, it can give the illusion that you are drinking more when you’re having less!


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