Moderate Drinkers Don’t Need to Give Up Alcohol to Lose Weight

Moderate Drinkers Don’t Need to Give Up Alcohol to Lose Weight

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Susmita Baral
Mar 15, 2017
(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

Good news for anyone trying to shed a few pounds: You can have your wine and weight loss too. While alcohol does not make you lose weight — contrary to the viral claims a few years back stating that drinking is better for you than going to the gym — it isn't something you have to eliminate entirely from your diet.

According to The New York Times, a 2015 review of cross-sectional studies published in journal Current Obesity Reports found that "frequent light to moderate alcohol intake does not seem to be associated with obesity risk." What exactly qualifies as "frequent light to moderate"? That's two drinks a day for dudes and one drink a day for gals.

Things are different when it comes to binge drinking and heavy drinking, which is four drinks or more a day for men and three drinks or more a day for women. In the case of heavy or binge drinking, there was a link to obesity and a growing waistline.

That's not to say alcohol isn't empty calories for moderate drinkers — sugary mixers can make a low-calorie liquor more unhealthy, and certain liquors are simply more fattening than others. Knowing the calorie count for a serving size of various forms of alcohol can help people pick their poison wisely. Nutrition Action, a subsidiary of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, released a report that broke down the highest- and lowest-calorie beverages in different categories like beer, light beer, cider, wine, and liquor.

There's also another element at play: While you can drink liquor and still pursue a healthy diet, people have been found to eat 30 percent more food when they consume alcohol. So while it's not alcohol explicitly tampering with your calories, it is impacting your diet in a certain kind of way while you're not paying attention.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 140 million Americans drink alcohol, and the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found 56 percent of those surveyed reported that they drank in the past month. Women are also now drinking just as much as men. Meanwhile 68.8 percent of Americans fall under the overweight or obese category.

Ultimately, moderation is the crucial theme to keep in mind. Drinking while trying to lose weight is fine as long as you're not overindulging. And, of course, it varies from person to person. The New York Times notes that everyone is different and how their body responds to alcohol will vary as well.

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