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How to Drink Less and Still Have Fun

Do you find it difficult to lose weight? It may be partially due to your alcohol intake. It can be surprising just how many calories are actually found in drinks such as wine or beer, but there are other ways in which drinking alcohol can lead to weight gain. This article will discuss the relationship between alcohol and weight along with some tips on how to drink less to lose weight

Firstly, it is important to remember that everyone is different, and whilst drinking alcohol may not have much of a visible effect on one person, it can lead to noticeable weight gain on another. Here are some contributing factors that can influence how your body tolerates alcohol:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • The amount you exercise 
  • Existing health conditions such as diabetes
  • How much alcohol you consumed 
  • How often you drink alcohol 
  • What your diet is
  • Your genetics

So you see, some factors which determine how susceptible we are to gaining weight as a result of drinking alcohol are within our control and some are not. What is important to remember here is that alcohol doesn’t just risk weight gain, it can lead to other health problems such as artery disease, increased blood pressure and high stress levels. So aside from your concerns about gaining weight due to alcohol, you should try to cut back on your intake to improve your overall health.

How alcohol causes weight gain

Alcohol stops your body from burning fat

When you drink alcohol, your body focuses on breaking down alcohol opposed to burning fat. As your body is changing the way in which it stores energy from food and drink, it can make losing weight harder. 

Moreover, drinking too much alcohol can cause damage to your liver which will affect its ability to metabolise and store fats and carbohydrates. Fatty liver can occur when fat has built up in your liver and may cause health issues such as liver inflammation, which can ultimately lead to liver failure.

It contains lots of calories

We don’t always consider how many calories are in our drinks but alcohol can be just as punishing as unhealthy snacks. According to the NHS, alcohol can contain around seven calories per gram which is around the amount found in a gram of fat. We also need to take into consideration the extra calories added to alcohol in mixers such as tonics or fizzy drinks. Moreover, the calories found in alcoholic drinks are known as ‘empty calories’ as they don’t provide any nutritional value. 

Here is a list of some popular alcoholic beverages and approximately how many calories they contain:

  • A pint of beer (5% ABV) = 239 calories
  • A glass of wine (175ml of 12% ABV) = 133 calories
  • Vodka and coke (25ml measure of 40% ABV) = 110 calories
  • Double gin and tonic (50ml measure of 37.5% ABV) = 149 calories

If you drink regularly and exceed the recommended alcohol limits or daily calorie intake, you could notice yourself gaining some extra pounds. 

Curious as to how much alcohol you consume in a week? Use our 7-day unit calculator to find out and learn about the implications this may be having on your health. 

It can trick you into feeling hungry

Ever noticed that you feel more hungry when you’re drinking? The BBC reported that alcohol may actually ‘switch the brain into starvation mode’ in humans, tricking the brain into thinking that you’re hungry and increasing your appetite. 

Therefore, cutting back on your alcohol intake may help to reduce your appetite and hunger, which may help you to lose more weight. 

You may make poor food choices

When you drink alcohol, it affects both your body and mind. Exactly how alcohol will affect you will also vary from person to person, however, it may lead you to eat less healthy foods and overeat. 

For instance, when you’re under the influence of alcohol, you might fancy something which is convenient and quick - and lacking in nutritional value. If you’re out drinking late at night, there aren’t many healthy options available, which means you may turn to whatever’s around you (many of us have probably fallen victim to cheesy chips in the early hours of the morning!) 

Top tips for drinking less to avoid weight gain

  1. Do not exceed the recommended limit for alcohol units - It is advised that men and women should avoid consuming more than 14 units a week.
  2. Avoid drinking alcohol if you haven’t eaten - If you drink on an empty stomach, alcohol can pass straight into your bloodstream, whereas eating food will help to slow the rate at which alcohol is absorbed. 
  3. Keep drinking water alongside your alcoholic beverages to stay hydrated - always order a glass of water with your alcoholic beverage.
  4. Take your time and drink at a slower pace - try to savour each sip and enjoy the taste of your drink. It can also be helpful to see your drink as a treat so that you make it last longer than usual. 
  5. Try and spend more time with friends who don’t drink much alcohol - It can be more difficult to drink less when you’re surrounded by people who are drinking. Try to plan in some more time with family and friends who don’t drink much alcohol, or spend time with them in an alcohol-free setting such as a bowling alley. 
  6. Avoid binge drinking - consuming a high number of units in a short period of time is known as binge drinking and can be bad for your health. In the UK, binge drinking is six units of alcohol in a single session for women and eight for men. 

If you’re trying to lose weight, there are other things aside from cutting back on alcohol you can try, such as exercising more often and making changes to your diet. Read our tips on weight loss for more ideas. 

Need support in drinking less alcohol or want to lose weight? 

If you live in Dorset and want to drink less or lose weight to maintain a healthier lifestyle, we are here to help! With a professional team of friendly advisors and coaches who know exactly how to support individuals in achieving their goals, why not register today or contact us to find out more about the services we provide. 

Bernie

It's time for me to get my health in order

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