If you've ever asked yourself, "Will I lose weight if I stop drinking?" you're not alone. Giving up alcohol tops the list of things to consider when trying to drop some pounds. While eliminating alcohol is not the only step you can take, it is one small change that may help accelerate your progress.
The rate at which you can lose weight after saying “no” to alcohol will depend on a number of factors, including your daily calorie consumption and how much you exercise.
How Alcohol Slows Weight Loss
Even drinking in moderation can add calories to your diet, and if you're not accounting for the occasional cocktail, you may end up with a few extra pounds around your waistline. Moderate drinking, as outlined in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, is defined as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men, and only by adults of legal drinking age.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's FoodData Central, a 16-ounce bottle of beer has 206 calories, and a glass of wine has 153 calories. If cocktails are your drink of choice, a regular-sized rum and cola will add approximately 175 calories and a White Russian, which contains vodka, coffee liqueur and heavy whipping cream, will add over 325 calories to your daily totals.
But it's not just the calories from alcohol that wreak havoc on your weight. It's also the plate of nachos or extra slices of pizza that pile on the pounds. A study published in the March 2015 issue of Current Obesity Reports found that when alcohol consumption goes up, the discipline to make smart dietary choices goes down. This means that it's easier to indulge in high-fat and high-sugar foods while sipping on a few alcoholic beverages.
Quit Drinking to Lose Weight
If you quit drinking to lose weight, the number of calories you save will depend on the number and types of drinks you typically consume. For example, if you're a male who falls under the definition of moderate drinker, your two drinks per day may add anywhere from 300 to 800 calories to your daily totals.
Drop that to one drink per day for women and you're looking at 150 to 500 calories. With those figures in mind, the question of whether you'll lose weight if you stop drinking becomes easy to answer.
To lose weight and keep it off, many experts, including those at the Mayo Clinic, recommend a weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week. You can achieve this by reducing your total calories by 500 per day and adding enough exercise to burn 500 calories per day, which will help you work toward a loss of 2 pounds per week.
Eating fewer calories and sticking to a diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats, while reducing the amount of added sugar and processed food, can lead to favorable results.
But if you quit alcohol and lose weight without any other lifestyle modifications, you may not need to reduce the number of calories from food. That said, including physical activity in your day, regardless of your weight, is essential for overall health. Regular exercise not only helps to burn calories and control your weight, but it also helps prevent or manage many health problems including, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, mood disorders and more.
- Current Obesity Reports: "Alcohol Consumption and Obesity: An Update"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Liquor and Cocktails"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Beer"
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, MyFoodData: "Wine"
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "Alcohol"
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:" Dietary Guidelines for Americans"
- Mayo Clinic: "Exercise: 7 Benefits of Regular Physical Activity"
- Mayo Clinic: "Fast Weight Loss: What's Wrong With It?"