The Lowdown on Alcohol and Weight Loss
Studies have discovered that at any one-time two-thirds of British people are on a diet. In the United States, roughly 45 million people will be on a diet in a year and spend a whopping $33 billion dollars on weight loss products. Yet many of these people remain overweight. Overeating is one piece of the puzzle but another is drinking. Here is the lowdown on alcohol and weight loss.
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Is Alcohol Bad for Weight Loss?
The reasons why alcohol may not be impacting your weight loss efforts is more complex than you would realise but let’s start by talking about the most obvious problem, calories.
Every alcoholic drink you consume has calories and as we know too many calories equals weight gain. On average a woman needs around 2,000 calories a day and a man 2,500. Depending on your metabolism and build this may vary but it is a reasonable figure to work with. If you regularly eat more calories than you actually need you will put on weight.
Any calories that you consume from alcohol have to be included in this number. So if you are eating 1800 calories a day but regularly consuming another 400 calories from alcohol you have gone over your limit by 200 calories. Do that every day and it adds up to 1400 calories a week, 5,600 calories a month and a whopping 67,200 calories a year!
On average it takes 3500 calories to put on one pound in weight. If we take the 67,200 calories a year and look at the maths that equates to just over 19 pounds weight gain. Obviously this doesn’t take into account exercise or times when you may not be drinking but it gives you a rough idea that drinking alcohol and weight loss is not a great combination.
Weight Loss & Type of Drink
Your choice of alcohol drink will also impact how much weight you could gain if you are drinking regularly as well as the size of the drink. For example, a glass of white wine in a 175ml measure is around 120 calories but reduce your measure to 125ml and you are now at 85 calories. Spirits usually have fewer calories but add a mixer and then the calories start to rise.
If you love a cocktail then you may have more problems. A Pina Colada has well over 300 calories in every drink. A pornstar martini well over 200. If you love a Baileys then it is one of the most fattening drinks out there with one small glass containing around 160 calories.
Many of my clients are drinking regularly and some night after night. One of my most recent drink less clients told me how well she was sticking to her latest diet whilst at the same time telling me of her bottle of wine a night habit. Clearly any weight she could have lost through cutting down on food was being put right back on again with the wine.
Yes, it is possible to lose weight and drink but it means paying close attention to what you are eating as well as drinking. An odd couple of drinks one or two days a week can be managed but if you are large amounts regularly clearly the weighing scales will be moving in one direction and that is upwards.
Drinking and Weight Loss
The problem with alcohol and weight loss is that it isn’t just about the drink itself other factors also have to be considered when you drink.
Firstly if you head out to a bar or pub I can bet that a good percentage of you will also order bar snacks to go with your drink. Nuts, nachos, crisps are all going to add to the calories that you are eating in the evening.
Also the more you drink the less you become aware of how much you are consuming in food and drink. Many people will say that they have only had a few drinks on a night out but an average person over the age of 35 in the UK drinks around a bottle and a half of wine! So that is around 1000 calories before we even talk about food.
How many of you have stopped at a late-night takeaway after drinking? A curry, burgers, kebabs and other carb-heavy foods can almost double the calorie count. Even worse if you are hungover the next day you will be craving more carbs to make yourself feel better and the calorie count rises further.
Finally when you drink your body likes to process the alcohol it has consumed first. This means that if you have also eaten something at the same time as drinking this is more likely to be stored as fat in your body. You are starting to play around with your metabolism.
Alcohol Weight Loss & Metabolism
If you weren’t aware the body is unable to store any alcohol you drink which means it needs to process that before anything else. So if you have also been eating your body is going to be unable to metabolise the fats and sugars that you have been consuming as efficiently. This means that if you are a regular drinker you are going to find that your metabolism will get slower. A slower metabolism means that it is going to be harder for you to lose any weight.
I always encourage my clients to practice mindful drinking as a way of keeping track of what they have drunk. Mindful drinking enables you to pay attention to what you are consuming and makes you think more carefully. These are some simple mindful drinking tips:
Make a plan about how much you will drink over the coming week and stick to it. Make sure you include alcohol-free days. As an example you may decide that you will drink on three days of the week and on each of those days you will drink no more than three drinks.
On the days you are drinking make sure that you only have the amount of alcohol that you want to drink around you at home. If you are outside in a bar then only bring enough money to cover the drinks you have decided to have.
Make each drink last. So you may decide that you will have three glasses of wine over the course of an evening and each glass with last you for at least one hour. That way you will slow your drinking.
Monitor the size of your drink and the calorie content. If you are drinking wine stick to smaller measures and if you are having a beer then small bottles rather than pints. Know your limits because if you drink too much you will not have the willpower to stop.
Set an alarm on your phone to tell you that you need to stop drinking and head home.
Therapy can help you to strengthen your resolve when it comes to drinking less as well as helping you to understand why you might be consuming too much alcohol.
Want to track how much you are drinking? Then our Alcohol Reduction Worksheets can help you to increase awareness of how much you are consuming as well as assist you in understanding your cravings. They also are filled with tips and strategies to help you make positive changes to your drinking habits.
Self-Hypnosis for Weight Loss
Self-hypnosis for weight loss can also help you increase your motivation to stick to a diet, reduce portion sizes and deal with any emotional elements related to drinking or eating.
In my online store, you can purchase my Ultimate Weight Loss Program to help you enhance your willpower and create new habits.
If you are more interested in curbing your alcohol intake to help lose weight then our Drink Less Alcohol Self-Hypnosis download can give you that extra motivation you need to help. Alternatively, if you feel you need an extra hand you can take a look at our Drink Less Programs to help you take control of your alcohol intake.
Best Alcohol for Weight Loss
Yes, some alcoholic drinks will have a lower calorie count which means they may help if you are on a calorie-controlled diet and are paying close attention to your calorie consumption. The following drinks have the lowest calories:
- Vodka and Soda 60 Calories
- Slimline Gin and Tonic 64 Calories
- Glass of Prosecco (125ml) 80 Calories
- Glass of Champagne (125ml) 89 Calories
Just try and stay away from beer and cider as they all help to pile on the pounds.
Of course, if you drink anything to excess and regularly drink over your calorie limits you will gain weight. Alcohol and weight loss is relatively straight forward. Drink as little as you can if you are trying to lose weight. If you are drinking monitor both your food and alcohol consumption to make sure you are not over-indulging.
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