When trying to lose weight one of the most common questions is, can I drink alcohol and still lose weight?
This article will attempt to answer this as well as educate you on alcohol so that the next time you are offered a drink, night out or just stressed from work you will be making an informed decision.
We will be discussing alcohol on a health and fitness level here not on the wider implications of alcohol.
How alcohol may be messing with your weight loss
One of the biggest problems with drinking is the number of calories you are consuming. The average pint of beer has 250 calories, a large glass (250ml) of wine has around 220. If your daily calories intake is around 1800 calories, it doesn’t take a mathematician to work out that a couple of beers after work is going to put a big dent in those numbers, leaving less allowance for real food that will nourish your body.
That leads nicely on to point 2. Alcohol is what nutritionists refer to as empty calories. They provide zero nutrients at the cost of 7 calories per gram. So other than possibly a feeling of relaxation, the calories you are consuming through alcohol are giving nothing!
Thirdly your inhibitions and commitment to your healthy eating plan will go out of the window after a few drinks. How many times can you go for a quick drink on the way home from work, stay for another, then pick up a takeaway on the way home? How many extra calories have you taken on compared to if you had just gone straight home from work?
But, here’s the big thing…
Alcohol switches off the fat burning process while your body processes what is basically a poison. Where you would normally be using carbohydrates and fat from your body for energy, you start to use the alcohol for energy instead. This continues until your body has processed all that booze and then continues again. Some experts say it can take up to 10 hours to process all the alcohol but a fairly good rule of thumb is to allow 1 hour per unit (the average beer has around 2.3 units).
So if you have say 3 pints after work or a few glasses of wine, you are looking at seven and a half hours before you start burning fat again. Do that 3 times per week and you have lost 22.5 hours a week where you could have been burning through your body fat – nearly one whole day of your week!
So should I give it up then?
Alcohol is a big part of many people’s lives. For many it is a social thing, for others a way to de-stress after a hard day.
The first thing is to become aware of how much you are drinking in both units and calories. If this number is relatively low (under 10 units per week and around 1000 calories) it will slow your weight loss plans but not completely scupper them.
If you are drinking a lot more than this, the good news is that cutting down by half will see a huge improvement, mainly down to the hugely reduced weekly calorie intake. Therefore, if you replace it with loads of food it won’t make a difference!
Losing weight is all about controlling your calorie intake. Therefore, you can drink and lose weight. It just makes sense for people to keep their drinking fairly minimal when trying to lose weight due to the number of calories and the lack of nutrients each drink provides.
If you choose to drink alcohol, stick to clear spirits (single shots!) such as gin or vodka and sugar free mixers like slimline tonics. These weigh in at about 80 calories and are about as diet friendly as you are going to get.
If you do go out and have a few (too many!) drinks don’t write the week off. Imagine you’ve consumed those calories in advance and adjust your weekly or even monthly intake (if it was a big night!) accordingly. If you do need to adjust your calories don’t go any lower than around 1400 a day for the following days as this would be starving your body of the nutrients it needs to function at its best.
Coming soon, the Robofit app will automatically adjust your calories and macros for the week if you go off track. Meaning that you won’t need to write the week off and still maintain consistent weight loss.
We are looking for around 500 people to test the new app.
Interested in being a tester? Click here. to join the list!