The Liquor for Weight Loss

I don’t want to be a party pooper, but alcohol isn’t doing your body any favors. Sure, a glass of red wine can have some benefits for heart health, but when it comes to weight loss alcohol will sabotage your efforts at every turn. Alcohol tends to have loads of calories, and liquor is essentially poison. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. However magnificent you feel after a few drinks, just remember the costs of overconsumption. Not that vomiting and potential death aren’t effective weight loss techniques—some people love that skeletal frame—but I assume that’s not what you’re going for when you sip the sauce.

Alcohol is fun for some of the same reasons it’s fattening. Drinking lowers your inhibitions and increases your appetite[i].  It’s the caloric double-shot, so to speak: you’re drinking additional calories initially, and you’re probably eating additional calories later. (If you’re someone who cures a hangover with a greasy breakfast, you can add that to your tab, too.)

Now for the really bad news: Drinking alcohol can temporarily slow down lipid oxidation. That means you won’t burn fat efficiently while your body removes alcohol from your system. It might not sound that bad, but over time that decrease in fat burned will do more damage than an increase in fat consumed.

Obviously, giving up alcohol completely is the most effective weight loss strategy. That’s probably not the most fun, though. Instead of abstinence, you can try changing your drink to something a little cuter:

1)   Vodka, water, lime

2)   Gin and soda water

3)   Whiskey and water

4)   Dry white wine or champagne

This is a lesser-of-many-evils situation with an easy theme to catch: water. For starters, water can bring out the flavor of whiskey and other spirits. But mostly, the quality we love about water is that it’s zero-calorie. (Not to mention that it helps prevent a hangover and keep you satiated.) Water is the elixir of life; it does everything beneficial, and nothing harmful. Consume it whenever possible.

Working your way down the list, you’ll notice number four, a dry white wine. If you’re trying to control your calorie intake, dry white wine is your best option in the “soft” alcohol category. Beer and wine in general are very caloric , but dry white wine will usually have a lower amount of sugar relative to other wines and certainly fewer calories than beer.

If none of the above drinks tickle your fancy, all the better! Sticking with water helps you lose weight faster. 

If you have read the above and are still thinking, “Well, I can handle this,” then here are a few more tips for a successful night out:

1)   Think of calorie consumption in terms of a week and plan for a binge of 500–700 calories. So if you are normally eating 2,000 calories a day, eat 1,900 if you plan to rage on Friday.

2)   Plan your drunk snack! If you know that once you drink you are going to eat, it doesn’t have to be pizza. You can drunkenly eat cheesy eggs instead.

3)   Skip the beer. I personally believe it’s the greatest alcoholic beverage ever created, but unfortunately it is also the worst for weight loss, aside from excluding liqueurs and eggnog.

When it comes down to it, the best advice is the easiest: drink responsibly, drink infrequently, and have fun with your sober(ish) self. 


[i] Buemann, B., Toubro, S., & Astrup, A. (2002). The effect of wine or beer versus a carbonated soft drink, served at a meal, on ad libitum energy intake. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, 26, 1367-1372.