One question that comes up time and again in my clinic is: 'can I drink alcohol and still lose weight?' The answer is yes, you probably can, but unfortunately alcohol can slow down weight loss in a number of ways.
Sorry!! Don't shoot the messenger...
How alcohol affects weight varies from person to person. Your gender, your genes, your lifestyle and your diet all play a role in determining how your body will react to booze so be mindful and notice how alcohol affects you personally.
Here are some of the ways that alcohol can affect your weight:
Alcohol significantly slows down fat burning
Studies show that alcohol temporarily reduces lipolysis (fat burning) by 73%! In other words, when alcohol is in your system, it's harder for your body to burn your stored body fat pausing your weight loss.
Drinking stresses your body
Alcohol increases levels of your stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol is known for promoting weight gain around the abdomen so if you want a flat stomach, keeping your cortisol level in check is key.
More hunger, less willpower
Drinking alcohol often decreases your willpower whilst increasing your appetite. If you are the type of person who can happily have a drink and maintain your willpower, then there is no reason why you shouldn't enjoy the odd glass here and there. However, if you struggle to stop at one, or you know drinking leads to you making poor food choices, then it might be a good idea to take a break from alcohol for a little while.
Hidden sugar and calories
As you might have guessed, alcoholic drinks do contain sugar and calories, but the amount differs significantly depending on what you drink. Whenever I watch cocktails being made I can't get over how much sugar they put in them! On the other hand, dry wine contains less than 5g sugar per litre - that's less than a teaspoon per bottle - so it's one of the best choices.
The bottom line...
If you are trying to lose weight then the bottom line is, drinking is likely to slow down your weight loss. If you're committed to losing weight as quickly as possible then you might want to consider cutting your alcohol intake right down, or out altogether, for a period of time.
However, if you aren't in a huge hurry to lose weight, try drinking a moderate amount of alcohol and monitoring your progress. If you find that you can enjoy a couple of drinks a week and still lose weight then great. On the other hand, if you find that you struggle to lose weight then you might have to cut it out for a while to see results. We are all different so there is no one-size-fits-all rule.
Following my tips for healthier drinking will help you to enjoy alcohol in the healthiest way possible and maximise your chances of weight loss.