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6 ways that alcohol affects weight

Updated: Jan 19, 2023

The pop of a cork, the unmistakable sound of a glass filling with wine, the expectation of the first sip. For many, a glass or two of wine or other alcohol is associated with pleasure and celebration. It's also the stress relief needed after a long day with the kids or at work.

However, alcohol can affect weight loss efforts, and negatively impact health. How?

  1. In the short term (that is, on the occasion when drinking), more than 4 standard drinks puts someone at a high risk of injury related to alcohol. Think, being involved in a fight, misjudging steps, or falling over for example.

  2. When we drink alcohol, our willpower and self-control are reduced, meaning that a second slice of pizza looks more appealing than it would do otherwise and we may end up eating more than we would otherwise.

  3. Eating more when drinking alcohol is common, and as alcohol is high in calories, you can quickly consume extra calories, slowing down weight loss goals.

  4. Not to mention the fact that drinking alcohol interrupts the sleep cycle, so sleep is of a lower quality. This can result in feeling tired and low in energy the following day, meaning we may crave sugar or caffeine to give us a hit of energy, and we are less likely to go for that walk we had planned.

  5. After a big night, high calorie greasy, fatty food is often the go-to meal to treat a sore head and tummy, further pushing us away from our health goals.

  6. In the long term (that is, drinking frequently over a long period), alcohol has many other serious health risks beyond possible weight gain, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems.

So it's important to monitor your alcohol intake as part of a healthy diet, whether or not you're managing your weight.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) suggest that healthy men and women should drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day.

Learn more about what a standard drink is here.

However, the less you drink, the lower your risk of harm from alcohol and the easier it will be to lose weight and improve health.

Tips to reduce alcohol intake

  • Swap to low or no alcohol alternatives.

  • Alternate your alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks

  • If you do drink, have something to eat before or while you are drinking to slow down how quickly alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream.

  • Aim to have at least two alcohol-free days every week.

  • If you are catching up with friends and family, plan something active to do, instead of visiting a pub or club.

  • Avoid salty snacks while drinking as they can make you thirsty leading to more drinks consumed.



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