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How to Lose Weight by Reducing Your Alcohol Intake

Updated on January 6, 2013

Up Front

Although alcohol is fat-free, it is sugar heavy, which can greatly add to our weight, especially belly fat. If you want to make great weight-loss strides, think about giving up or reducing your alcohol intake, especially if you're adding 'mixers' or juice to your drinks.

I will state up front, that I am no trained expert in this matter, but am only sharing my experience, which led to some significant weight-loss success.

The First and Most Basic

Whether you can do this yourself (super-honestly), with the help of friends, or with professional help, figure out why you're drinking (just like with over-eating). For myself, it was one, two, or both of the following: anxiety and/or boredom. The anxiety part was obvious, the results of self-medicating were pretty quick, but the boredom seemed like such a poor excuse, it was almost embarrassing to admit to myself, but it was obvious that when I was out and busy all day, I didn't even think to drink.

But, it's a good idea to figure out your reasons and triggers and address those, rather than just the symptom of drinking. Be honest with your doctors. A lot of people say they drink to forget, but I could use that excuse, too, and really, drinking doesn't accomplish that, nor does over-eating.

1.5 oz = 3 Tbsp
1.5 oz = 3 Tbsp | Source

Knowledge Can Be a Motivator

The following are calorie estimates for:

  • One beer (12 oz): 110-149
  • Glass wine (5 oz): 96-140
  • Hard liquor (1.5 oz): 98
  • Liqueur (1.5 oz): 188
  • Margarita (4 oz): 168
  • Pina Colada (9 oz): 460

When making your own drinks, have you actually ever measured out 1.5 oz? That is a tiny amount - many of us are probably consuming more than we think. And, who's ever heard of a 4 oz Margarita? That's half of a measuring cup!

So, assuming you consume a very modest 2 beers, 2 small glasses of wine, or 2 shots of vodka (nothing added) per night (we'll round to 100 calories each), that's 1400 calories per week. That's 72,800 calories per year or 20.8 pounds.

Some Tricks that Worked for Me

  1. Obviously, for me, I needed to stay busy.
  2. Just like when you're dieting, you use a smaller plate, and it looks like more food, I applied this same method with my fav Vodka. I switched from a tall glass to a short glass, even cutting off the length of the straw to fit the new glass.
  3. I gradually added more ice to the drink and a bit of water.
  4. I quit using mixers or juice that usually make those drinks so yummy and go down much faster. If I wanted to drink, it was not going to taste so good.
  5. For every drink I consumed, I then consumed an equal amount of water.
  6. I gradually advanced the time at which I allowed myself to drink. I progressed from noon to 5pm over the course of about 6 months. (And, no, you can't use the excuse that it's 5pm somewhere in the world!)
  7. I went to the doc and got blood tests, including liver tests, which showed I was developing a "fatty liver." That provided some impetus for me.
  8. Just like I've completely quit watching any food commercials, I quit watching or reading anything related to drinking. Advertising is very effective, as are DVRs, which allow you to fast-forward. (I swear, God created the DVR.) Also, I've decided, unfortunately, to cut out Mad Men from my tv schedule - oh, Don, I miss you!

Why are You Drinking Too Much?

It it's just become a bad habit, some of the tips above might help, as they did for me.

If you've developed an alcohol dependency, obviously, these tips won't cut it: you need professional help. If you can't afford a rehab center, know that hospitals have to treat you even if you don't have insurance.

Reap the Benefits

Whatever your reason for decreasing your alcohol intake, you will reap the benefits. You'll have more energy, sleep better (more evenly through the night), more enthusiasm, and motivation to be more physically active. The combined benefits include significant weight loss, increased health, improved relationships, increased self-esteem, and longer life. Cheers!


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    • LucyLiu12 profile image

      LucyLiu12 5 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Great point that it's a depressant and lowers metabolism. Thanks!

    • sparkleyfinger profile image

      Lynsey Harte 5 years ago from Glasgow

      Great hub. Aside from the calorie side of things, alcohol is also a depresssant, so it lowers the metabolism, especially as we recover. It can take the body days to recover from one drinking session, so thats days of a lowered metabolism! This is absolute HELL for a dieter!!!!

      Personally, I put weight on whenever I drink, and come out in a nasty acne breakout, so I have just switched to the soft drinks for now!