Fitness is about making life better, not harder. I’m not the militant type of trainer, who says you CAN’T do certain things. This means, if you want to lose weight, whilst still drinking alchol, it’s my job to allow that. The all or nothing mindset is dangerous, the last thing I want is for you to drink, feel guilty and go back to square one.
So yes. You can lose weight, whilst drinking alcohol, but there does need to be some forms of moderation to make it work for you.
You’ve probably heard all that stuff saying, alcohol kills fat loss and its the devil etc. I wont lie, it doesn’t make things easier, but to say you can’t lose weight is wrong.
Il be honest drinking alcohol offers no physical benefits, when losing weight. But for some it does offer psychological benefits. It helps some to unwind and for others it’s a way to connect with friends. Relationships are so important for people. The last thing I want to do, is pull someone from their friend circle, just to lose a few pounds of fat.
How to lose weight whilst drinking?
So we know to lose weight, you need to be in a calorie deficit. You need to consume fewer calories than your body burns. When it comes to alcohol, the principles still apply.
What makes this harder, is the way alcohol behaves in our body. Alcohol blocks our inhibitions. Not only is it an excuse to drunk text your ex at 3am. It’s also responsible for you also ordering that donner kebab, at 3am. You know the one with cheesy chips, cheesy garlic bread, garlic mayo and a pepperoni pizza.
I always say this. It’s not usually the booze alone that causes weight gain. It’s the actions alongside it, that contribute to weight gain.
Unlike fats, proteins and carbs, alcohol does not fill you up. This means you can drink 1000’s of calories worth of alcohol, without your body telling you that you’re full. The same would happen eating that amount eating chicken and veg.
Alcohol has 7 calories per gram, whilst fat has 9 and protein & carbs have 4.
I’m going to outline 5 steps you can do, so you can still consume alcohol and lose weight.
Create a calorie buffer and pre plan
The last thing you want to do on a night out, is whip out Myfitnesspal and start logging your calorie intake. But you do need to be consuming less calories than your body burns to lose weight.
Instead pre log your drinks in the morning or night before. That way you can plan the rest of your days intake around that. I always say, overestimate what you’re going to drink, that way you have a little wiggle room.
For most people I’d have a calorie buffer of 500-800 calories for a night out of drinking. That’s enough to not feel deprived of a drink. That should also leave you enough calories for food in the day.
Choose lower calorie options, when looking to lose weight whilst drinking
Some drinks have a lot more calories than others. Spirits such as gin or vodka have 50 calories a unit. Whilst a pint of beer or glass of wine will be around 150-200 calories.
Remember a lot of drinks contain more than just alcohol. Cocktails come packed with sugar too. One of my favorites, the Espresso martini contains 200-300 calories a glass. If you’re like me, you order four in one go. Thats over a 1000 calories gone in 5 minutes.
When it comes to spirits, the choice of mixer is very important. Always go for the diet option, it’s such an easy way to save 200 calories a drink, without affecting the taste. So opt for Rum and Diet coke or Gin and Diet Tonic.
Finally portion size is important. When it comes to ordering spirits, go for single shots, to half the calories. When it comes to beer, a half pint is just as good as full pint. If you consume it slower, you’ll realise it’s all you need. By all means have a full pint if you’ve accounted for it.
If you unwind with a couple beers at home. Why not have one beer instead? Same with wine. You don’t need to cut things out completely, but small reductions are very helpful.
Protein and veggies are super important
Calories from alcohol are the least filling. So it’s really important to eat enough protein and fibre, to make up for it and keep you full.
Being in a calorie deficit is tough. That’s why we try to make our meals as filling as possible, to make it suck a little less. When drinking alcohol you are going to be even hungrier. So it’s even more important to try and combat that.
Let’s make no mistake about it, alcohol is technically a poison. So by making sure what you are eating, is a nutritious as possible, this will help with damage limitation. I’m not saying it will counterbalance things, as it won’t. But it’s better than not eating much veg and fibre.
4- Plan your training around drinking days and hangovers
There’s 3 reasons for this:
- Fats and proteins are essential, carbohydrates are not. The majority of your calories from alcohol, will be alloted from your carbohydrates. So if you train on days you plan to drink later, you workouts are not going to be as effective. So if you are going to drink, plan you workouts on days you don’t drink, to utilise as much energy as possible.
- You’ll feel rubbish when hungover, so your workouts will suck. When you’re hungover, your body is trying to get the poison out of it’s system. Whilst also being carb depleted, your body is not going to up to full strength, so your workout will suck. Instead go for a nice long walk instead and get in plenty of steps.
- Alcohol inhibits muscle protein synthesis. We weight train whilst losing weight to preserve muscle. When you have alcohol in your system, your body gets rid of that first. Your body sees getting rid of poison a priority. So the workout wont have the same impact it had on your muscles. So it makes more sense to do it the day before.
As you can see working out on drinking days and the day after, is not the wisest choice. Use these days to hydrate and get in lots of NEAT instead.
This is the most important step. There’s no point in trying to better your life if you can’t enjoy it. The reality is, we are all going to die one day, why not enjoy the time we have.
So have your drinks. Enjoy your time out with friends, enjoy your date. Have fun with whatever your doing.
Be mindful and follow the steps above and you’ll be all good.
Final thoughts on losing weight whilst drinking
So yes you can lose weight whilst drinking, no doubt about. Is it harder? Yes. Would it be easier to give up drinking completely when losing weight? Yes.
At the end of the day people are going to want to drink. It’s my job to find a way for you to do so, whilst hitting your goals.
Drink responsibly. Also make sure not to go overboard with the takeaway food and hangover breakfast. If all that is in place you’re all good.
If you enjoyed this post download my free alcohol calorie planner. This will tell you the best choices of alcohol for the calories. So on a night out, you’ll always know the best choice for your situation.
Josh is a Registered Associate Nutritionist, with the Association for Nutrition (AFN). He completed his degree in Nutrition at the University of Roehampton in 2021. He passed with a First Class with Honours.
Josh is also a tutor for up-and-coming Personal Trainers, where he teaches a Level 4 Advanced Nutrition course. This is for Personal Trainers looking to upskill their nutrition knowledge. This is done at Norfolk Health & Fitness.