This article has been Fact-Checked by Kendall Kennedy MS, RD, RYT
Sometimes it can get a bit confusing. You know alcohol probably isn’t the best thing for you but then one day you read an article that tells you that certain kinds of alcohol help you lose weight. It’s time that weight loss and alcohol get explained.
Alcoholic drinks are fairly popular around the world even though they damage your health. But how do they influence your weight loss?
Is drinking alcohol the solution to your weight problem?
Every once in a while you see articles popping up that say that “drinking this alcoholic drink can increase your weight loss.” A popular example is tequila.
Most articles like this follow the same narrative. A study shows that substance x can speed up weight loss or improve your health if consumed in a concentrated dose. This substance x is present in (insert alcoholic drink) so this alcoholic drink must help you lose weight.
It might be true that specific alcoholic drink is better for weight loss than other alcoholic drinks but it doesn’t give you a reason to start drinking to lose weight.
The disadvantages of the alcoholic drink will most likely outweigh the benefits.
Your cocktail with orange juice may contain some vitamin c. However, if you want vitamin c why wouldn’t you just eat an orange?
If you will drink alcohol anyway you can choose the drink that will supposedly help you lose weight more but these kinds of headlines steer some people towards the wrong habits.
How reducing alcohol can benefit your weight loss
It’s clear that the solution to your weight loss plateau isn’t grabbing a few shots with your friends. But does reducing your alcohol intake matter that much when trying to lose weight?
Alcohol and sleep
The first and most important thing that alcohol influences is sleep.
Some people swear that alcohol helps them fall asleep. Their evening habits consists of a “nightcap”, an alcoholic drink right before bed.
While it might be possible that alcohol helps you fall asleep faster, how long you sleep is not the only thing that’s important.
Sleep quality is extremely important. If alcohol helps you get asleep 10 minutes faster but messes up the other 7 hours you have not done a good deal with yourself.
It’s not looking good for alcohol if you’re looking to get some good sleep (1). And sleep is extremely important for weight loss and health in general.
Try to stop drinking alcohol at least 2 hours before you go to bed, the longer the better. Drinking enough water can also reduce the negative impact of alcohol on your sleep.
Alcohol and physical health
Alcohol is a bad influence on your physical health. It damages your body primarily in the liver since that’s where your body filters it out of your system (2). However, it won’t be good for most other parts of your body either.
Your liver is an important organ. It’s the one that detoxifies our body, synthesizes proteins and produces biochemicals. It helps you get more out of the good things you consume and makes the bad food less damaging.
It’s pretty clear you don’t want to do more harm to it than you need to.
While the different kinds of physical damage of alcohol could go on for a while, another important one is that it promotes insulin resistance. This means your body needs to produce more insulin to deal with the same amount of sugar in your blood.
Insulin is a fat-storing hormone. So the higher your insulin levels are the more fat you store. High levels could also lead to diseases like diabetes.
Indirect benefits of reducing alcohol
Reducing alcohol consumption can also benefit your weight loss journey in less direct ways,.
Late night snacks
We’ve all been there. It’s evening (or let’s face it, the middle of the night) and we’ve had a little bit of alcohol. The night goes on, everything is going fine but then…. boom.
Your stomach starts to growl. It’s there, the mid-night hunger.
Chances are you are not focused on your diet at that moment. It often happens that this late night hunger turns into a big meal with a lot of unhealthy food under the influence of alcohol.
This is probably not the biggest problem caused by alcohol. However, these midnight snacks do count up. Just a little motivation to have more alcohol-free nights.
The power of reducing bad habits
An underrated advantage of drinking less alcoholic drinks is that you get in the habit of taking more and more care of your body. Each of these small lifestyle changes may not be that big on their own but they do add up.
Once you get in the routine of improving your health habits again and again it becomes easier and easier.
When you get going like this you will, sooner or later, wake up, look in the mirror and think you are still sleeping.