Do alcohol and weight loss mix?

Ever wonder if your excessive alcohol intake is hindering your results when it comes to weight loss? The answer is most likely yes.

Heavy drinking or binge drinking can result in extra calorie consumption which may lead to weight gain or prevent you from losing weight. Alcohol can also have many other negative impacts on your overall health. Here are some commonly asked questions about alcohol and the evidence based answers you have been looking for:

What is the recommended daily allowance for alcohol?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend having up to 1 drink of alcohol a day for women and up to 2 drinks a day for men. These guidelines also do not recommend that any individual whom does not drink alcohol start for any reason.

What is excessive alcohol intake?

Excessive alcohol intake is consuming more than the recommended daily allowance as described previously. Most commonly, excessive alcohol intake is described as heavy drinking or binge drinking. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and the Center for Disease Control describes heavy drinking as consuming 15 or more drinks per week for men and 8 or more drinks per week for women. Binge drinking is noted to be consumption of alcohol in a manner that brings the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to a level of 0.08% or more. This usually is in relation to 5 or more drinks for men and 4 or more drinks for women per one occasion, usually within a 2-hour time frame.

Is the serving size for all types of alcohol the same?

The answer to this question is no! The serving size of alcohol varies depending on type. A standard serving size of an alcoholic drink is equal to 14 grams (0.6 ounces) of pure alcohol. This serving size typically correlates to 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, 3 oz of fortified wine and 1.5 oz of liquor such as rum, rye or vodka. So beware, depending on the size of your glass, you may be unintentionally consuming more than one serving of alcohol!


How does the calorie content of alcohol compare to food?

Alcohol can supply almost twice as many calories per gram when compared to protein and carbohydrates. Protein and carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram where as alcohol contains 7 calories per gram. Alcohol is just behind fat, which contains 9 calories per gram. In reference back to the serving sizes previously discussed, alcoholic beverages can be quite concentrated in calories in comparison to other beverages, which can accidentally be leading you to having greater than one serving of alcohol in a single drink. Alcoholic drinks may also contain calories from other sources, such as sugary mixers, juices, or energy drinks in cocktails, which then also increases the overall caloric consumption of the beverage.

Is it safe to replace food for alcohol in my diet to prevent excessive calorie intake?

No. Replacing food calories for alcohol calories will not aid you in weight loss or benefit your overall health. In fact, alcohol does not have the vitamin and mineral content of food so replacing food in your diet for alcohol can lead to malnutrition and many vitamin or mineral deficiencies.

Can eating healthy help reduce my alcohol intake or limit my cravings for alcohol?

Yes! According the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, eating a well balanced diet can help reduce cravings for alcohol. Planning regular meals and healthy snacks can aid in keeping your mood and blood glucose stable resulting in less temptation for excessive alcohol intake and feelings of dependence towards alcohol.

What other long-term health risks associated with excessive alcohol intake?

Over an extended period time, consumption of alcohol in excess can lead to many chronic conditions or serious health problems including (but not limited to) these examples listed below:

* High blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease and/or digestive problems
* Diabetes
* Cancer (commonly breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver and colon)
* Learning and memory problems
* Mental health problems such as depression or anxiety
* Social problems such as loss of productivity or unemployment
* Alcoholism or dependence to alcohol




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