Many of you out there might be wondering if you can lose weight while drinking alcohol on a somewhat regular basis and the answer to this question is not a simple “yes” or a “no”.
We understand that calories lead to weight gain if you read through our article How Many Calories Do I Need to Eat to Lose Weight so it should come as no surprise that consuming alcohol can contribute to your weight gain.
There Are Different Sources from Which Alcohol Comes And This MATTERS!
I am sure we’re all aware that alcohol can come from a variety of sources. Probably some of your favourite ones would be:
- mixed beverages
- many more
At this point you’re probably thinking that each alcoholic drink is created equally and that drinking any of the above mentioned alcoholic beverages will automatically lead to the calories contributing to your overall daily calorie budget.
This isn’t exactly the entire truth and I’d like to discuss in this article why exactly each individual alchololic beverage will have a different effect on your body when it comes to calorie storage.
There is some evidence to suggest that hard liquor cannot be metabolised into fat like carbs can (such as found in wine and beer in the form of sugar), and I tend to believe this body of evidence. What this means for you is great.
As long as you are drinking beverages with no carbohydrates (in the form of sugar) and not adding sugary mixes into your drinks (such as Colas or pop/sodas) you can pretty much enjoy a few alcoholic beverages without the added fat gain as long as you’re in a caloric deficit.
Drinks of this nature include:
Drinks that do NOT fall under this category, however, due to the sugar:
To learn more about how to eat in a caloric deficit, again, please refer to our article above on how many calories you need to consume to lose weight.
What essentially happens when you consume hard liquor such as whisky, gin and vodga is that it remains in your body’s water until it gets eliminated. There’s no way to convert hard liquor calories into body fat.
We’ve Now Learned About Liquor, But What About Beer, Wine and Other Drinks?
You see, just because you consume beer, wine and other drinks with carbohydrates does not automatically mean you’re going to gain fat.
As a matter of fact, you can virtually eat anything you want in life and not gain fat. However, if you’re trying to remain in a calorie deficit (eating fewer calories than you’re burining), adding any drinks with carbohydrates (in the form of sugar) including pops/sodas, juice, coffee with sugar and milk, smoothies is going to contribute to those calories.
This is no different for beer and wine because of the high carbohydrate content of these drinks. Hard liquor on the other hand contains no carbohydrates in the form of sugars (unless you’re mixing them with high-sugar mixes).
So, if you have a specific calorie goal in mind, you’re definitely going to want to make sure that you are accounting for all alcohol calories coming from carbohydrate-rich beverages. The only way to still lose weight while drinking these types of drinks is to track them in your daily food log and make sure you are still in a calorie deficit!
Planning Your Calorie Requirements Around Alcohol-Related Events
As we are all human, from time to time there are going to be events in your life where you may want to consume a few alcoholic beverages. With any weight loss program you probably have your calories and macros figured out meaning protein, carbs and fats that you are going to consume on any given day.
Who doesn’t want to go out with friends and family to enjoy a few beverages? Surely, a few sacrifices can be made so you can do just that – enjoy your life!
A few popular sources of carbohydrates that you might be eating could include (but are not limited to):
- sugar (fruit)
- milk (very high in sugar)
This means that any of the above could, theoretically, be replaced directly with beer or wine. Here’s an important note on this however. You definitely do not want to replace all of your wholesome carbohydrates with those from alcoholic drinks like beer and wine
Do not do this! If you’re getting a certain number of carbs everyday from wholesome foods, it’s okay to replace some of them with carbs from alcoholic drinks such as beer and wine – but definitely not all of them.
What this means for you in a practical sense is that if you usually eat one cup of rice for dinner or 500 grams of potatoes, you will need to determine a couple of things if you want to drink beer or wine and still lose weight:
- What is the nutritional profile of the carb sources you’re eating (how many calories are in it?)
- How many calories does your preferred drink for the evening have? (beer or wine)
- How much of your preferred drink are you planning on consuming throughout the course of the evening?
Once you have a grasp of how many calories are in your food and your drink of choice you can get to work and begin planning how much food you’re willing to and going to replace with calories from your alcoholic beverage of choice.
You might have a few questions at this point such as:
- Why are we only discussing carbohydrates in foods and alcoholic drinks but not fats or proteins?
- I am not sure how many calories my drinks and food have?
These are all valid questions and we’ll discuss this below.
Replacing a Carb for a Carb – And What This Means
If you’re going to enjoy a few alcoholic beverages containing carbohydrates throughout the course of any given day but you want to remain in a state where you are losing fat, then you must trade a carbohydrate calorie for a carbohydrate calorie.
We’re only discussing carbohydrates here because alcoholic beverages do not contain any fats or proteins. Well, beer actually does contain a bit of protein but not in any significant quanitities. Therefore, we’re only going to be swapping out calories for calories.
In laymen’s terms this means two things for you:
- Eat less carbohydrates during your dinner (or any other meal)
- Swap them out for the carbohydrates in your beverages instead
This is the best way we personally know how to continue to enjoy alcoholic drinks while continuing down our path of weight loss or whatever other dieting goals you have.
Examples of What I Personally Do if I Want to Drink Beer
There are two scenarios I could fall into on a night that I’d like to have some drinks:
- I will be planning to drink beer that night
- I only plan on drinking liquor drinks
For point number one, I will estimate how many beers I will be drinking that evening and I will be replacing food calories with those calories from my beer instead.
On average, a 500mL tallcan contains about 220 calories. Therefore, for one single can of beer I would need to omit about 220 calories from my carbs that day.
This is for one can!
If you take into consideration that I eat a lot of rice, 1 cup of rice roughly contains 660 calories. So, for one beer, I would need to roughly cut out 1/4 of the rice I eat for dinner.
That’s quite a lot of rice to omit during dinner!
However, overall, I generally do not choose to drink beer because of this problem. I want to get most of my carb calories from nutritionally dense sources such as potatoes and rice – not beer!
What I Personally Do if I Want to Drink Hard Liquor
In terms of hard liquor, things change drastically. As we’ve learned above, there is no need to track liquor calories as long as you’re staying in a calorie deficit for the day from your food sources.
This is the main reason I choose to drink hard liquor only when I am in a weight-loss phase. Drinking anytihng with sugar in it – including beer and wine – is just going to make this process that much more difficult for me because I will have to substitue a bunch of carbs for beer (as discussed above).
In terms of liquor, however, who the hell wants to just drink shots of hard liquor all night? Well, that’s not exactly what I do. You definitely have a few options of mixing your liquor that are zero-calorie options.
Some of my personal favourite options include:
- whisky and soda (pop for my Canadian fans 🙂 )
- gin and Fresca
- gin and soda with a squeeze of fresh lime juice
- whisky and diet colas
I drink the above drinks because I find them most enjoyable. They are a great way to drink calorie-free drinks without gaining weight as long as my calorie deficit remains in tact for the day!
If I went into a caloric surplus that day I will not lose any weight. If I stayed below my maintenance calories, the mixed drinks above will not add to my calorie count for the day.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what the most enjoyable way is for you to lose weight and still drink alcoholic beverages.
No Matter What I’ve Said Here, It’s Still Best to Avoid Alcohol All Together – But… You Don’t Have To 🙂
No matter how you slice the cake, overall it’s in everybody’s best interest to simply remain abstinent from alcohol. However, I am not religious or a preacher nor anti-alcohol so I choose to still enjoy alocohol.
The whole point of fitness is to enhance all aspects of your life. This includes going out, mingling with other singles, meeting women (or men) and having a good time.
If you’re constantly obsessing over all tiny details then what’s the point of building a great body if you’re constantly just restricted by it?
That’s boring. And that’s a great way to lose your friends and never have a normal social life again.
In this article I aimed at helping those that wish to lose weight still enjoy a few drinks here and there – and there’s absolutely no reason at all why you should not be able to drink alcohol and still lose weight.
As always, thank you for stopping by to check out the article. Let me know in the comments below how you have been able to continue drinking alcohol while losing weight and what you do to be able to do it!
We would love to find out more about how people are living their lives. Make sure to check out our article about how many calories you need to lose weight.