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To Drink Or Not To Drink When Dieting

Updated on October 27, 2016

Drinking Misconceptions

There have been a lot of misconceptions when it comes to alcohol and dieting. Many people think alcohol can ruin your diet, making you gain weight, especially around the belly. Others have experienced losing weight after a night of drinking, and think it actually speeds your metabolism, and helps you lose water weight. The truth is both are true. It just matters what kind of alcohol is being consumed and what it’s being consumed with.

How Alcohol Can Make You Gain Weight

Alcohol is best to be avoided when trying to lose weight. Even though you cannot absorb the calories from alcohol, and it is used as an immediate energy, it can indirectly make you gain weight in several ways. For one, if you eat anything while drinking (which is sometimes recommended), you will store those calories as fat. This is because your body is functioning on whatever calories of alcohol you have consumed. For example, if you drink 500 calories of alcohol and eat 500 calories of food, your body will store the 500 calories of food until the 500 calories of alcohol is used up. So even though you can’t absorb the calories from the alcohol, it still prevents your body from burning up the calories from food you consumed right away.

Another way that alcohol can indirectly make you gain weight is that it can increase your appetite. Many people have experienced hunger after a night of drinking, and this is because alcohol can increase your appetite. For the majority of people (especially intoxicated people) they will end up eating more than they intended to.

Alcohol can also decrease your rational thought and make you do things that can mess up your diet, such as eating when you’re offered food or overeating. For example, if you’re drinking at a bar and someone orders appetizers (even if you initially promised yourself not to eat any fried foods), you’re more likely to give in if you’re intoxicated or even a little buzzed. You’re also more likely to continue to drink and consume more alcohol once you start drinking because your rational thinking can go out the window. This can add up and give you more calories that need to be used up before you can start burning food calories.

How To Drink Alcohol and Still Lose Weight

If you absolutely must drink, or want to enjoy a few drinks and still lose weight, there is a way. There are three main things you have to do to prevent yourself from gaining weight, and to still lose weight.

1. Incorporate The Alcohol's Calories in Your Daily Plan

You still must account for the calories as you normally would with food. Even though your body doesn’t absorb calories from alcohol, it still uses it, so treat it as you normally would. So save some of your allowed calories at the end of the day if you plan on drinking.

2. Only Have 1 to 3 Drinks

This is because the calorie amount will be low, and you won’t get too intoxicated and make bad decisions. You won’t drink more than you’re supposed to, and you won’t eat more than you’re supposed to.

3. Don't Eat While Drinking

The last, most important thing to do is do not eat or consume any calories other than the alcohol, while drinking alcohol. By doing this, you are not allowing your body to store any extra calories, thus not giving your body any chance to gain any fat weight. This includes no cranberry juice with your vodka, no specialty shots or drinks, and not even any energy drinks. See below for a list of drinks and shots that are ok.

What To Drink When Trying To Lose Weight

(All average around 100 calories per drink for 1 ½ shot)

  • Vodka Soda* (with lemon or lime)
  • Vodka Water (with lemon or lime)
  • Vodka Shot (straight up or on the rocks with a lemon, lime, or soda* chaser)
  • Vodka Diet (any diet pop)
  • Repeat with all other liquors (whiskey, rum, gin, tequila, brandy, and scotch)

*Soda = Carbonated Water

What To Avoid When Trying To Lose Weight

  • Any Drinks Mixed With Juice, Pop, or Another Calorie Beverage

(Ex: Vodka Cranberry, Whiskey Coke, Vodka Redbull)

  • Any Specialty Drinks or Shots

(Ex: Tequila Sunrise, Margarita, Bloody Mary, Jag Bombs)

  • Bottled Malt Beverages

(Ex: Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Wine Coolers, Cider Beers)

What About Wines and Beers?

I don’t recommend drinking wines or beers when trying to lose weight because of the lower alcohol content. At first glance that may not seem like a problem, and you might think it’s even better but it’s not.

As explained earlier, when you’re drinking alcohol you really don’t want to have any excess calories that are not alcohol because those calories can be easily turned into fat. Beers and wines average between 5-12% alcohol, compared to liquor averaging between 40-50%. So the excess calories that’s in beer and wine, that is not alcohol, can be stored (until the alcohol calories are used up) and turned into fat. There’s a reason why they call it a beer belly! In moderation you can still consume beer and wine and lose weight, but I would opt for other choices if you choose to drink while losing weight.

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Disclaimer: Before undertaking any diet or exercise plan, please consult your physician or healthcare professional. UltimateLife is not a doctor or trained health professional. Thank-you for your interest and support!

© 2013 Michelle Barnes

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