Can You Drink Alcohol and Lose Weight?

We’re well past New Year's resolutions.  Even assuming that you did stick to them, you might not be seeing the results that you wanted.  New Year's’ resolutions are often Sisyphean tasks that require a sustained commitment, like earning a new degree or giving up smoking.  Rarely do we resolve something that can be easily accomplished. And since one of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight, it’s hardly surprising that you’re still working at it.  

Those last couple of pounds are always the hardest to lose.  Your body adapts to the reduced calorie intake and increased exercise, and eventually, you level out.  It can be especially frustrating for someone on a long weight loss journey to hit this wall after working so hard.  And, after all, you’ve already given up so much: indulging in your mother’s lasagna, the convenience of fast-food, the social bonding over late night binges.  What else do you have to sacrifice to reach your goal?  Alcohol may be the answer.  

Lowers Inhibitions

While the social temptation is obvious and ingrained in our culture, the fact is that you’re not doing your body (or your fitness goals) any favors by drinking booze.  The reality is that we’re likely consuming alcohol at events where we’re already tempted to cheat.  Alcohol is frequently consumed at bars, birthday parties, bridal showers, after-work hangouts, and many other events.  It’s a social lubricant that allows us to let our hair down and relax a bit.

The problem is, those events often have cakes, nachos, and other goodies we know we shouldn’t have.  Alcohol lowers your inhibitions, making you think that having just a small piece or a couple of bites is okay when it’s actually knocking you off your calorie limit.   

Calculating Calories

While you can always refer to an alcohol's proof, calories in a drink are a little harder to figure out.   For one, plenty of bartenders, professional or no, free pour their drinks, meaning that they don’t use an official measuring tool.  Instead, they often rely on a count or previous experience to know how much of a particular booze should be in a drink.  This can make estimations of calorie content wildly off.  

Also, as any cocktail waitress will tell you, math isn’t typically drunk people’s forte.  And whether you stick to the same basic drink or try a bit of everything, there is a good chance that you’ll forget to add that random Mai Tai you had in the middle, or you’ll forget to carry the one Purple Viking when multiplying… Point is, calculating your calorie intake becomes a lot harder when alcohol is involved.  

You can help avoid this pitfall by sticking to a reasonable number of drinks.  And while ultra-fit athletes have been using wearable tech for a while now, there’s no reason you can’t use that technology for your own weight loss efforts.  Many fitness apps record your calorie goals and have databases of the nutritional content of different foods.  This can serve as a sort of independent guide to how many calories you’ve burned, but this tech often still relies on you to input calories consumed.   Understandably, this can get a little fuzzy after your third drink.  If you want to remain safe, use the highest recommended estimate for various drinks.

The Hangover

Even a little headache the next day can be enough to shake your commitment to work out.  What’s more, it can encourage you to eat not-so-healthy foods in order to feel better.  Traditional hangover remedies typically include greasy foods, which are exactly the sort of diet-shattering foods you want to avoid.  However, in an effort to feel better and function, even the most committed person might give in to temptation.  

The best cure is prevention, of course.  Don’t drink so much that you’re hungover the next day.  It also helps to stay focused and hydrated.  There’s also some research that fashionable athletic wear can help you stay committed. And since athleisure wear has become seriously popular, there are so many options for all body types, there’s no reason not to embrace the research.  If wearing a pair of comfy, fashionable leggings is the difference between you succumbing to the hangover blues or completing your sets at the gym, then you should make sure that you feel confident in your gym clothes.

Overall, drinking is one of the worst decisions you can make for your final weight loss push.  However, it’s unrealistic to say that everyone should never indulge in a cocktail again.  Instead, make it an extra special treat, not something that you have every weekend.  The truth is, if you want to obtain your fitness goals as quickly as possible, then your days of letting loose at the bar are on pause.  Alcohol is often one of the hardest things to give up, but it can also be the most crucial factor in achieving your goal.  

3/13/2017 7:00:00 AM
Dayton Uttinger
Written by Dayton Uttinger
Dayton is passionate about health and wellness in today's fast-paced, busy world. She socializes for a living and writes for fun. Her rarely relevant degree gives her experience in political science, writing, running, Spanish, rugby, theater, coding, and spreading herself too thin. She will forever be a prisoner of her f...
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