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A Guide to Alcohol and Fat Loss

November 5, 2018


Can Drinking Derail Your Weight Loss Plans?

When you’re on a diet and weight loss plan, it requires a significant amount of self- discipline and planning, especially in the beginning. Most diets require you to swear off alcohol if you want to keep losing weight. But alcohol is so ingrained in cultures around the world that it can be difficult or almost impossible to avoid it altogether. But anything that requires all-of-nothing, black-and-white rules sets you up for failure.

Often, people who are on a fat loss plan will have one beer and think that they’ve derailed their diet. So, they have another. Then another, thinking, “Oh well. I’ve already messed things up so might as well enjoy myself.” And then, the inevitable food cravings set in. Can alcohol derail your fat loss plans? Well, if you don’t use it in moderation, it can. Below, we’ll guide you through how to enjoy a beer while still maintaining a diet and keeping yourself in shape.

First, you need to understand a few things about how the body metabolizes calories and calories from alcohol in particular.

  • ● Calories in, calories out. If you consume more calories than you burn, you’ll get fat. It’s that simple.
  • ● If you consume over your energy needs for the day, those calories will be stored in places you don’t want them to go. A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips, or gut, or cankles, or double chin. You get the picture.
  • ● The body will have a difficult time turning excess protein calories to fat. It is only with continued overeating that the body will turn extra carb intakes into fat, too. But both proteins and carbohydrates add to your energy balance in a day. So indirectly, they can cause weight gain if you consume too many of them day after day over a period of time.
  • ● Alcohol has no fat content in it. But it does have calories, and therefore, energy value. Most alcoholic drinks have carb calories in them from either fruit, hops, or sugar derivatives, depending on what type of alcohol you’re consuming.
  • ● Calories from alcohol are prioritized over other fuel sources, such as previously stored fat. Why? Because the by-product of metabolizing alcohol, acetate, is a toxin. So, your body will burn off acetate before it attempts to burn off other calories, namely, stored fat.

Unfortunately, drinking can easily push you over your allotted calorie budget in a given day. Worst case scenario, all of the dietary fat you’ve eaten on a day you drink will get stored as body fat, depending on how many calories from your allotted daily budget are from alcohol. One gram of alcohol contains seven calories, whereas one gram of fat contains nine.

So, is it possible to drink alcohol and still lose fat?

Yes, but only if you follow these simple rules.

● Drink in Moderation

The definition of moderation differs for everyone. But when it comes to alcohol and fat loss, moderation is really defined by one to three alcoholic drinks. But if you’re going to drink, even moderately, you have to reduce your food intake to match the calories of alcohol you’ll consume in a day. Your best bet is to decrease your carbohydrate and fat intake on days you want to drink. Protein calories are okay to consume on these days, because they will reduce any hunger cravings, and will also protect your muscles.

Again, the key to alcohol and fat loss is to do it in moderation, and sparingly. Alcohol will give you energy and calories, but it doesn’t give you any other health benefits. Also, when you diet and use alcohol to make up part of your allotted calorie budget, recovery can become an issue. If you’re aiming for bulking up with muscle, drinking too often will cause you to bulk up with fat, instead. Drink occasionally, not on a regular basis.

● What about hard partying or binge drinking?

There may come a time while you’re on a diet that you get invited a party, start drinking, and things get a little out of hand. If you start binge drinking, you’re going to go over your calorie allowance for the day. But, YOLO, right?

The good news is, the body has a hard time storing anything but dietary fat in the short-term. On party days, keep fat intake at a minimum, and consume protein calories. For carb calories, get those from vegetables on party days. When you drink, keep it to low carb and low-calorie drinks like dry red wines, and liquors with zero calorie mixers if you don’t like straight spirits. Even if you’re on a diet and need to

lose fat, if you follow these simple rules and understand how calories work, you can still enjoy a drink or two.

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