Does Drinking Alcohol Prevent Weight Loss?

By Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD  

Cutting back on alcohol can help with weight loss, especially if you drink excessive amounts. If you limit alcohol and otherwise keep your diet the same, you will decrease your overall calorie intake.  

This of course can translate into weight loss, but it turns out that it’s not just the additional calories in alcohol that make it hard to lose weight. Drinking alcohol in excess may prevent your metabolism from functioning at its best.  

If you are exercising and eating healthy without seeing results, but you indulge in several alcoholic drinks a week, you may want to rethink your drinking habits.   

Alcohol and Calories 

Calories can add up quickly in alcoholic beverages. A single five-ounce glass of white wine provides 120 calories, and an ounce and a half of vodka has close to 100 calories. Mixing liquor with a sugary drink or soda adds even more calories.  

Drinking alcohol can also lead to unnecessary eating and cause you to indulge in foods that you otherwise would not eat. When you are under the influence of alcohol, it may be harder to practice mindful eating and notice when you feel full. This is what leads you to eat the entire pizza after a night of drinking instead of one or two slices! 

Excess calories in alcoholic drinks can significantly add to daily energy intake, but mindless eating after a few drinks usually contributes the most unnecessary calories.  

Alcohol intake can also lead to dehydration, which may cause your body to think it’s hungry rather than thirsty. The result? Eating more to quench your thirst. The next time you have a drink, be sure to chase it with a glass of water to prevent dehydration. 

Alcohol and Metabolism  

As soon as alcohol is consumed, the body tries to get rid of it as fast as possible since alcohol cannot be stored. During this process, the body stops burning fat so it can focus on alcohol metabolism.  

Drinking in excess several days a week may lead to a slowed metabolism over time. However, if you drink rarely or in moderation, you probably will not experience these metabolic effects.  

How to Make Smart Alcohol Choices 

If you enjoy drinking alcohol and want to continue to do so in moderation, try to stick to at most one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men. A drink counts as one and a half ounces of liquor, five ounces of wine, or 12 ounces of regular beer.  

If you eat balanced meals and exercise regularly, drinking in moderation should not prevent weight loss. However, if you drink excessive amounts of alcohol, you may be inhibiting your ability to lose weight. 

Regardless of your drinking habits, keep in mind that decreasing your consumption of alcohol may help you cut out unnecessary calories and lose weight more quickly.  

Note from Healthy For Life Meals: There are so many factors when it comes to weight loss! Let us take care of one of the most important ones – fueling your body with nutritious, balanced meals. Our weight loss meal plans are freshly prepared for you and can even be delivered to your door throughout Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin! Get started with one of our plans today. 

Stef Keegan