How does alcohol affect weight loss?
Find out why drinking could be making it harder to lose weight.
Losing weight can benefit your health and wellbeing. The key is to burn more calories than you consume - and reducing the amount you drink is a great way lower your calorie intake.
And it’s not just the calories you’ll cut out that could help you get in shape. Cutting back on alcohol will mean you’ll get a better night’s sleep so you’ll feel refreshed and perhaps have a little more motivation to exercise.1
Alcohol is higher in calories than most people realise, containing seven calories per gram, compared to protein and carbohydrate which have around four calories per gram and fat which has nine.2
The calorific nature of alcoholic drinks can be deceptive. A pint of beer can have as many calories as a Mars bar, and a large glass of white wine could be the same as an ice cream, so the calories in a few drinks can quickly add up.
What’s more, calories in alcohol are considered ‘empty’ calories, as they don’t provide any nutrients.
It’s not just the calories in alcohol that can contribute to weight gain, it’s also the food we eat while drinking. Drinking less makes it easier to stick to your healthier meal choices, which in turn will have a positive impact on your weight.
The ways in which drinking less can make it easier to lose weight don’t end there. Whether you work out, jog or play sport, exercise is great way to help you lose weight, and there’s no question that drinking less will make exercising that bit easier.
You should only try to lose weight if your BMI (Body Mass Index) is above the healthy range for your age, height and gender. You can find out your BMI using the BMI calculator on the NHS choices website.
Drinking less to lose weight is a great idea alongside a balanced diet and regular exercise.
If you’d like to reduce your alcohol intake, why not try alternating every alcoholic drink you have with a glass of water or low-calorie soft drink? This will slow down the rate of your drinking and keep you hydrated. Drinking plenty of water is also recommended for people trying to lose weight, as it can keep you from mistaking thirst for hunger and snacking more.3
You could also try switching your regular pint for a low alcohol beer. Low alcohol beers tend to be lower calorie as well, so you’ll be consuming fewer calories as well as being more likely to wake up well rested.
If you drink wine, you could try adding soda to a small glass of wine to make a spritzer that lasts just as long as a large glass, to help you cut back the calories.
Try keeping track of your drinking using the free Drinkaware app. You’ll be able to set yourself goals for reducing your drinking and get even more tips and advice for cutting down.
If you want to find out more about calories in alcoholic drinks take a look at our Unit and Calorie Calculator.
 Roehrs, T. and Roth, T., (2001) Sleep, sleepiness, and alcohol use. Alcohol research and Health, 25(2), pp.101-109.
 National Research Council. (1989) Diet and Health: Implications for Reducing Chronic Disease Risk. Washington, D.C: The National Academies Press.
 Dennis, E.A., Flack, K.D., & Davy, B.M. (2009). Beverage Consumption and Adult Weight Management: A Review. Eating Behaviors. 10(4): 237–246.