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Can you Lose Weight by cutting out Alcohol?

The key to losing weight is to burn more calories than you consume. Alcohol contains a huge number of calories – a large glass of wine contains that same number of calories as a jam doughnut. So you might find that your drinking, be it a pint of beer, or a glass of wine, is having a stifling effect on the amount of weight you want to lose.

Drinking alcohol can make it more difficult to achieve your weight loss goals, for a variety of different reasons that we will explore below.

The Deceptive Calories of Alcohol

You can easily reduce your calorie intake by reducing the amount you drink. This is because alcohol is much higher in calories than most people realise; a pint of lager, for example, contains around 180 calories, which is approximately the same as a slice of pizza!

The calorie count of alcoholic drinks can be deceptive, as while you may be aware that treating yourself to a slice of pizza is a bit of an indulgence, a few drinks after work every so often might not seem out of the ordinary. However, since a pint of beer can have as many calories as a large slice of pizza, and a large glass of white wine could be the same as an ice cream and cone, the calories in those few drinks can quickly add up and eat into your daily recommended calorie intake.

What’s more, calories in alcohol are considered ‘empty’ calories, as they don’t provide any nutrients, and have no nutritional value whatsoever! 

Alcohol and Lifestyle

Alcohol doesn’t just affect your weight through the calories it packs, however. Unchecked drinking can have quite a large impact on your weight in a variety of different ways.

For one, alcohol has been proven to have an effect on your sleep patterns. Drinking before you go to bed can increase alpha wave patterns in the brain; a kind of cerebral activity that only usually occurs when you’re awake. This can result in disrupted sleep, which can affect your weight. This is because sleep deprivation can cause changes to the hormones that regulate appetite, making you more likely to eat more than you need to, and leading to weight gain. Cutting out drinking can, therefore, help you get a better night’s sleep, control your appetite and prevent unwanted weight gain!

Drinking alcohol can also lead to contextual weight gain, as it tends to encourage unhealthy habits, like disinterest in exercise when dealing with a hangover, getting calorific takeaway foods alongside a pint, raiding the fridge after a glass of wine in the evening, and more. Drinking can sometimes be an enabler in your lifestyle for these types of unhealthy habits, so cutting out the drink can help you with your weight management by making you more likely to do exercise and discouraging the desires for unhealthy snacks and meals to be washed down with your pint!

So, can you lose weight by cutting out Alcohol?

The short answer is yes, definitely. By cutting or at moderating your alcohol consumption, you can see a variety of weight loss benefits, including:

  • Significantly cutting down on your daily calorie intake
  • Preventing sleep deprivation and controlling your appetite
  • Encouraging exercise and physical activity
  • Discouraging unhealthy eating habits

For some more tips and advice concerning health and alcohol, you can read some of our other blog articles in the LiveWell Dorset Drink Less section here or learn more about our Drink Less services here.


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How does this work?

The tailored approach LiveWell Dorset uses to come up with solutions to the things that are stopping us achieving our goals, is based upon work done by University College London developing the COM-B model of behaviour change. In this model, all behaviour is influenced by understanding a person’s capability to change, their opportunity to change and their motivation to change. By understanding which of these is the biggest barrier to change, we can tailor support accordingly. This model of behaviour change is at the centre of the support we offer, online and in person.

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