Can Drinking Alcohol Prevent You From Losing Weight?

Alcohol contains calories however unlike carbohydrates, protein and fat from whole foods, alcohol doesn’t provide any feelings of fullness. Therefore, you do not realize you are consuming more calories in addition to the calories you’re eating. Also, remember it’s not just the calories in alcohol itself that cause disruptions in weight loss, but also the calories that come from mixers like soda and sugary syrups.

Alcohol and Weight Loss

Alcohol And Weight Gain

Drinking alcohol disrupts your weight loss program because it slows the process by which your body burns fat. Therefore, you are more likely to gain weight as your body is unable to burn the extra calories consumed through alcohol. However, you can still drink alcohol and lose weight, as long as you monitor how much alcohol you consume.

When embarking on a weight loss journey, alcohol is often first on the “no-no” list. Although it’s possible to drink alcohol in moderation and still lose weight, regular or excessive alcohol can significantly hinder your weight loss efforts.

How Can Alcohol Prevent Weight Loss?

The key to losing weight is to burn more calories than you consume and reducing the amount you drink can help you lower your calorie intake. It’s not just the calories you’ll cut out that could help you get in shape; cutting back on alcohol will mean you’ll get a better night’s sleep so you’ll feel refreshed and perhaps have a little more motivation to go for that morning run or swim.

Here are some ways alcohol can prevent weight loss:

Alcohol Is Full of Empty Calories

At seven calories per gram, alcohol supplies almost twice as many as protein and carbohydrates. Unlike calories from carbohydrates, fat, and protein, alcohol no real nutritional benefit. A high-calorie cocktail or a couple regular beers can easily cause you to exceed your daily calorie requirement without providing the body with added nutrition. [1]

Alcohol Inhibits The Body’s Ability To Burn Fat

Alcohol is converted to acetate by the body, and it serves as a quick-burning fuel source. When acetate from alcohol is available for energy, it becomes much more difficult to burn the fat necessary for weight loss. [2]

Alcohol Interferes With Your Body Clock

Studies have proven that alcohol intake disrupts normal stages of sleep and total sleep time. When you wake in the morning exhausted, your exercise plans will go out the window. This reduces the calories you burn, which puts you at a greater disadvantage for weight loss. [3]

Alcohol Is High In Calories

As mentioned alcohol itself carries a caloric value which means that 1 gram of alcohol has 7 calories. Therefore, you must monitor your alcoholic calories in your diet plan. Just to compare, carbohydrates and protein have about 4 calories in each 1 gram and fat has 9 calories per 1 gram. So, alcohol builds up the calories in your diet, it spoils your hormones, it increases your appetite and you never manage to lose your belly fat and get a flat stomach. [4]

Alcohol Increases Appetite

Alcohol can increase appetite, making the combination of alcohol and a fattening meal all the more worse. Studies have showed that alcohol consumed before a meal increased caloric intake to a far greater extent than did a carbohydrate drink.

Calories In Your Alcoholic Drinks

For every gram of alcohol you ingest seven calories.  Your beverage, sliding ever so easily down your throat, could be negatively impacting your energy balance [5].

Alcohol is definitely never the best option in the world when looking for fat loss.  Several reasons why:   Alcohol itself has calories (gram for gram more than carbohydrates and protein, but less than fat). It lowers your inhibition, so you’re more likely to overeat.

What Are The Best Low-Calorie Alcoholic Drinks?

Is it low carb beers, mixed drinks, wine or hard drinks? [6] Let’s break it down in more detail.

Alcoholic beverages are divided into three categories: beer, wine, and spirits (or liquor). Beer and wine are made by fermentation of plant material that contains sugar or starch. Spirits or liquor (vodka, gin, scotch, whiskey, etc) on the other hand is made by fermentation followed by distillation, which is boiling the mixture then using condensation.

From an overall health standpoint, red wine is superior to all other alcohol drinks and would be my first choice. Although it won’t necessarily “help” you to lose weight there are some benefits of having an occasional glass of red wine with your dinner.

White wine would be my next choice due to calorie content followed by light beer and finally liquor drinks. Liquor drinks typically have more calories that light beer or wine so they’d be my last choice from a weight loss standpoint.

Many people mistakenly believe that a liquor drink like vodka is best for weight loss because it contains no carbs and very little sugar. The same thing can be said for “low-carb” light beers. This is where the trickery comes in from the manufacturers. The problem with alcohol has little to do with the carb or sugar content to begin with.

Straight Liquors

When it comes to getting the most alcohol for the fewest calories, shots and straight booze on the rocks are the way to go. To be honest there is actually very little difference between 80-proof hard liquors because they all have around the same amount of calories and carbohydrates. And as calories increase along with alcohol content, the difference isn’t huge. For instance, a shot of 86-proof whiskey contains 105 calories and a shot of 80-proof vodka contains 97.

It is important to note that you also need to keep in mind that the sweeter the liquor, the more calories it typically contains, she says. Try to avoid the flavored vodkas and spiced rums and go for the original or ‘plain’ option offered.  If you are looking for a flavor boost, try low-calorie mixers like a flavored seltzer or fresh squeezed lemon or lime. This will provide the taste without the calories. So you need to balance your drink and food , because alcohol makes you have a bigger appetite, and alcohol has calories so be careful and wise.

After Your First Or Second Drink

After your first drink, your body starts to get rid of the alcohol quickly using the alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) pathway.  In this pathway, ADH converts the alcohol into acetaldehyde, which gets further broken down to acetate. These by-products (acetaldehyde and acetate) are considered to be highly reactive and can increase oxidation throughout the body, but especially in the liver.

Because your body sees these by-products as dangerous, it wants to use them as fuel. This means your body will significantly blunt fat-burning close to 75% after just one and a half drinks.2And it will stop using carbs for energy. Therefore, although very little alcohol will be stored as fat (less than 5%), the fat and carbs you are eating have an increased risk of being stored as fat.

Your liver can process these toxins through the increased use of certain vitamins, such as the water soluble vitamins B1, B3, B6, folate and C, while also possibly depleting some of the fat-soluble vitamins, A, E and K1. Over-time these decreases in vitamins can play a secondary role in loss of motivation, energy, and well-being.

After your first couple of drinks, your brain also starts to increase its usage of GABA. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain and is a large reason why alcohol is known as a “depressant.” Over time, the GABA receptors get used to the effects of alcohol, which is a reason why people may need more and more alcohol to feel the effects from alcohol


You don’t have to completely avoid alcohol when you’re trying to lose weight, but limiting consumption and making smart choices are vital to success. When you do drink, don’t drink more than recommended amounts — one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

A drink is defined as 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or 1.5 ounces of spirits. Choose wine, light beer or a low-calorie mixer, such as club soda, over juice or cola. Don’t skip dinner in an effort to conserve calories. Instead, eat a healthy, satisfying meal before you indulge. That way, you’ll be less likely to drink too much or binge on unhealthy foods.