08 Dec Will I Lose Weight if I Stop Drinking Alcohol?
Alcohol is a very normalized and acceptable substance in our society. Many people see no issue with unwinding at the end of the day with a drink or two. While most people can drink alcohol in moderation, others abuse alcohol in dangerous and compulsive ways. Excess alcohol consumption affects the body in many different ways. In fact, alcohol abuse can even lead to unwanted weight gain.
The relationship between alcohol and weight loss is complex. However, more than 40% of Americans are overweight or obese, and more than 50% of Americans drink alcohol on a monthly basis.[1,2] This does not mean there is a direct correlation between drinking and obesity, however, people who are overweight or obese may be able to lose weight easier if they stop drinking alcohol.
Does Alcohol Make You Gain Weight?
There are two ways alcohol intake can contribute to weight gain. One has to do with calorie intake while the other has to do with the metabolism of sugars, fats, and other nutrients in the liver.
Alcohol and Empty Calories
Alcohol is full of so-called “empty” calories. Calories come from all kinds of foods and beverages and they are supposed to fuel the body. However, calories from food usually have some type of nutritional value. Calories from alcohol, on the other hand, have no nutritional value.
You may drink alcohol and consume a lot of calories, but still feel hungry. You may even spend your days dieting and eating in a calorie deficit, but if you drink alcohol, you could easily find yourself consuming way more calories than you intended to. Among drinkers, men consume 27% more calories and women consume 19% more calories than their recommended daily intake.
When your body receives more energy from calories than it needs, the extra energy is not used up, and it is stored as fat in the body. But, if you stop drinking alcohol and continue trying to lose weight, you may find you can shed pounds faster than you did while you were drinking.
Alcohol, The Liver, and Your Metabolism
Alcohol, like most substances and foods you consume, is metabolized in your liver. However, alcohol is a toxin, and when the liver detects alcohol, it makes metabolizing that alcohol its top priority. In other words, alcohol is metabolized first and other nutrients aren’t metabolized at all. These other nutrients have to go somewhere in the body, so they go right into your adipose tissue and are stored as fat.
Will You Lose Weight if You Stop Drinking Alcohol?
Alcohol abuse can not only hinder weight loss, but it can actually make you gain weight. While drinking in moderation doesn’t usually have a huge effect on a person’s weight, binge drinking, heavy drinking, or alcoholism will. Fortunately, if you stop drinking alcohol, you may find it much easier to lose weight.
There are many reasons why people experience weight loss when they stop drinking so much alcohol, such as:
- Having more energy allows you to work out longer or more effectively
- A drop in the total number of calories consumed helps burn more fat
- The liver begins working correctly and you may see an increase in metabolic function
- It is easier to make healthy, clear-minded choices about dieting and nutrition if you are sober
Even cutting back on the number of alcoholic drinks you have each week can help prevent weight gain and promote weight loss.
How Much Weight Can You Lose if You Stop Drinking Alcohol?
How much weight you will lose if you stop drinking alcohol depends on many individual factors, such as:
- How much alcohol you have been drinking
- Whether or not you live an active lifestyle
- The quality of your diet
- Other lifestyle factors like stress and mental health
- Any health conditions you have that may affect your metabolism or hormones
It takes about 3,500 calories to burn one pound of fat. A glass of red wine contains about 125 calories and one standard beer contains about 150 calories. If you drink two glasses of red wine or two beers each night, you are consuming an extra 1,750-2,100 calories each week. This means by simply cutting out alcohol from your diet and changing nothing else, you could lose up to half a pound each week.
If you begin eating a nutritious, balanced diet and working out regularly, you could find yourself losing weight at an even faster rate. However, if you replace your nightly alcoholic beverage(s) with high-calorie meals like pizza or sweet desserts like cake, you can expect your weight to stay the same.
Other Health Benefits You’ll Experience if You Stop Drinking Alcohol
While you may lose some weight if you stop drinking alcohol, there are other changes your body will go through as well. Remember, the liver sees alcohol as a toxin, so the body wants to expel it. Every system in your body will function better when the liver is doing its job of metabolizing real nutrients rather than focusing on alcohol.
Other health benefits of abstaining from alcohol that can promote weight loss include:
- Improved sleep
- Increased energy
- Fewer food cravings
- Reduced risk for diabetes
- Improved digestion
- Improved hydration
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Less bloating
If you choose to stop drinking and embrace a lifestyle of recovery, your mind, body, and soul will thank you.
Find Help for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
You may find yourself wanting to cut back on your alcohol consumption to get your health back on track, but unable to stop drinking. If so, you are not alone. Nearly 15 million people ages 18 and older struggle with alcohol use disorder. The good news is alcoholism is a treatable disease that you can recover from with a little bit of help.
Here at Florida Recovery Group, our alcohol treatment program can help you give up alcohol for once and for all. Don’t wait any longer. Call today to get started.