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To Drink Alcohol or Not to Drink Alcohol When Dieting

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Drinking Misconceptions

There have been a lot of misconceptions when it comes to alcohol and dieting. Many people think alcohol can ruin your diet, making you gain weight, especially around the belly. Others have experienced losing weight after a night of drinking, and think it actually speeds your metabolism, and helps you lose water weight. The truth is both are true. It just matters what kind of alcohol is being consumed and what it’s being consumed with.

How Alcohol Can Make You Gain Weight

Alcohol is best to be avoided when trying to lose weight. Even though you cannot absorb the calories from alcohol, and it is used as an immediate energy source, it can indirectly make you gain weight in several ways. For one, if you eat anything while drinking (which is recommended), you will store those calories as fat. This is because your body is running on whatever calories of alcohol you have consumed first. For example, if you drink 500 calories of alcohol and eat 500 calories of food, your body will store the 500 calories of food until the 500 calories of alcohol is used up. So even though you can’t absorb the calories from the alcohol, it still prevents your body from burning up the calories from food you consumed right away.

Another way that alcohol can indirectly make you gain weight is that it can increase your appetite. Many people have experienced increased hunger during a night of drinking. This is because alcohol can increase your appetite. For the majority of people (especially intoxicated people) they will end up eating more than they intended to, or would have if they were not drinking alcohol.

Alcohol can also decrease your rational thought and make you do things that can mess up your diet, such as eating when you’re offered food or overeating. For example, if you’re drinking at a bar and someone orders appetizers (even if you initially promised yourself not to eat any fried foods), you’re more likely to give in if you’re intoxicated or even a little buzzed. You’re also more likely to continue to drink and consume more alcohol once you start drinking, because your rational thinking can go out the window. This can add up, and lead to more calories from alcohol consumed. These calories need to be used up before you can start burning food calories.

Eating high calorie foods while drinking can make you gain weight and hinder your weight loss goals.

Eating high calorie foods while drinking can make you gain weight and hinder your weight loss goals.

How To Drink Alcohol and Still Lose Weight

If you absolutely must drink, or want to enjoy a few drinks and still lose weight, there is a way. There are three main things you have to do to prevent yourself from gaining weight, and still lose weight.

1. Incorporate The Alcohol's Calories in Your Daily Plan

You still must account for the calories as you normally would with food. Even though your body doesn’t absorb calories from alcohol, it still uses it, so treat it as you normally would. So save some of your allowed calories at the end of the day if you plan on drinking.

2. Only Have 1 to 2 Drinks

Not only is this recommended in general, but this will also lower the overall calorie amount, and you won’t get too intoxicated and make bad decisions. You won’t drink more than you’re supposed to, and you won’t eat more than you’re supposed to.

3. Have Your Food Planned While Drinking

The last, most important thing to do is to already have planned out what you plan to eat while drinking. This could be a healthy snack, something with protein to keep you full, or even your last meal of the day. By doing this, you are more likely to not overeat for the day or give into temptation. Also not adding in juices and mixers to your beverages will also significantly cut down on calories. This includes no cranberry juice with your vodka, no specialty shots or drinks, and not even any energy drinks. See below for a list of drinks and shots that are good during weight loss.

What To Drink When Trying To Lose Weight

(All average around 100 calories per drink for 1 ½ shot)

  • Vodka Soda* (with lemon or lime)
  • Vodka Water (with lemon or lime)
  • Vodka Shot (straight up or on the rocks with a lemon, lime, or soda* chaser)
  • Vodka Diet (any diet pop)
  • Repeat with all other liquors (whiskey, rum, gin, tequila, brandy, and scotch)

*Soda = Carbonated Water

What To Avoid When Trying To Lose Weight

  • Any Drinks Mixed With Juice, Pop, or Another Calorie Beverage

(Ex: Vodka Cranberry, Whiskey Coke, Vodka Redbull)

  • Any Specialty Drinks or Shots

(Ex: Tequila Sunrise, Margarita, Bloody Mary, Jag Bombs)

  • Bottled Malt Beverages

(Ex: Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Wine Coolers, Cider Beers)

Straight shots (in moderation) work better with dieting than mixed drinks, wines, or beers.

Straight shots (in moderation) work better with dieting than mixed drinks, wines, or beers.

What About Wines and Beers?

Certain wines can be fine, but drinking beer can be problematic if you are trying to lose weight. Beer and wine tend to be higher in calories than spirits. They are also lower in alcohol by volume meaning they usually have a lot of extra carbohydrates.

As explained earlier, when you’re drinking alcohol you really don’t want to have any excess calories that are not alcohol because those calories can be easily turned into fat. Beers and wines average between 5-12% alcohol, compared to liquor averaging between 40-50%. So the excess calories that’s in beer and wine, that is not alcohol, can be stored (until the alcohol calories are used up) and turned into fat. There’s a reason why they call it a beer belly! In moderation you can still consume beer and wine and lose weight, but I would opt for other choices if you choose to drink while losing weight.

Other Articles You Might Enjoy:

Eating One Meal a Day vs. Six Meals a Day

10 Reasons Why Eating Six Meals a Day is Too Many

5 Important Things to Remember When Choosing to Eat One Meal a Day

Disclaimer: Before undertaking any diet or exercise plan, please consult your physician or healthcare professional. UltimateLife is not a doctor or trained health professional. Thank-you for your interest and support!

© 2013 Michelle V