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Giving Up Alcohol & Weight Loss

author image Dom Tsui
Dom Tsui has been writing professionally since 2000. He wrote for the award-winning magazine, "Pi," and his articles about health and fitness, style and confidence appear on various websites. Tsui works as a lifestyle and confidence consultant and kickboxing instructor. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from University College in London.
Giving Up Alcohol & Weight Loss
Alcohol can cause you to gain weight. Photo Credit Knartz/iStock/Getty Images

There is nothing wrong with drinking alcohol in moderation. There are even a growing number of studies that show that moderate alcohol intake has various health benefits and may even be healthier than not drinking at all. However, no matter what the other possible health benefits, drinking alcohol definitely contributes to weight gain, so cutting it out of your diet can only help you to lose weight.

Hidden Calories

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Weight-control Information Network, losing or gaining weight is dependent on the number of calories you consume compared to the number of calories you burn through exercise and other exertion. If you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. If you consume and burn an equal amount, your weight will remain constant, and if you consume more than you can burn off, you will gain weight.

Alcohol Nutrition

Alcohol is significant in weight loss because in nutritional terms, it contains empty calories. There is little to no nutritional value in alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine or spirits although they are still calorically dense. The alcohol in a spirited drink is ethanol, a simple carbohydrate that is easily processed and stored as fat in the body. Most alcoholic drinks contain virtually no nutrients.

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Calorie Effects

Because alcohol contains so many calories--generally upwards of 40 calories per 100 milliliters of beer or around 150 calories for a small beer, or around 120 calories for a small 175 milliliter glass of wine--it becomes easy for the calories you consume to exceed the level of calories you burn. The excess calories in alcohol are easily stored as fat in the body, or as acetate. According to celebrity trainer Christian Finn, acetate is burned before fat, meaning that it becomes harder to shift fat.

Other Considerations

Alcohol has other indirect effects on your weight. As you drink, you tend to lose inhibitions and self-control, as well as experiencing an increased appetite. As a result, after a few drinks you are far more likely to fall off a diet if you are on one. If you are not on a diet, you may still end up eating more than you had planned or indulging in unhealthy snacks.

Drink in Moderation

Drinking alcohol is not necessarily bad for you. It is easily possible to include a moderate amount of alcohol into your diet without gaining a beer belly, although nutritionist Ian Marber advises against drinking more than two or three times a week. However, cutting out alcohol eliminates both direct and indirect sources of calories in your diet, so it can make the difference between losing weight and putting it on.

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