Can I Still Lose Weight If I Don’t Want To Give Up Alcohol?

29th July 2019

It’s no lie that alcohol and weight loss goals generally don’t mix, and if we’re being honest, there really are many reasons to reduce or even give up alcohol from our diets and social habits.


On the other hand, having a glass of wine, or whatever your drink of choice may be, is also a cherished pastime, a conduit for connecting with friends and is infused into most of our social gatherings.


How alcohol influences metabolism


But, word on the street is that alcohol messes with your metabolism – big time! There’s a reason why they call is a “beer belly”. While that’s true to some extent we shouldn’t freak out about it just yet.



Here’s how the metabolic process basically goes when you’ve had a drink:


When alcohol is consumed it is absorbed into the blood from the stomach and intestines, then two main enzymes in the liver begin to metabolise it.


Alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) go to work in breaking apart the alcohol molecule so that it can eventually be eliminated from the body, as it cannot be stored.


Because of this, it becomes a priority for your metabolism.


In other words, it moves to the front of the metabolic line when it’s consumed, even if you’ve consumed food (that contain nutrients like fats, proteins and other carbs) along with it. In turn, that slows the breakdown of fats (lipolysis), and the digestion of any other nutrients.


The good news is that postponing those digestive processes doesn’t necessarily equal imminent weight gain. It’s just that the biochemical pathways don’t work as efficiently with alcohol on board.


Factors affecting the rate of alcohol metabolism – and how tipsy you get!


But, the fact is that no matter how much alcohol a person consumes, the body can only metabolise a certain amount of alcohol every hour.


There are certain factors that can determine what an individual’s absorption rate is – and how quickly they’re going to feel the effects.

Is it actually possible to lose weight while including wine/alcohol in my diet?


So while it’s somewhat of a relief that alcohol itself isn’t the entire problem, it’s the high calorie count, especially when combined with sugary mixers and a tendency to overeat when imbibing that usually keeps us in the resistant weight loss zone.


But, there is hope as it IS possible to get ahead in your weight loss goals, even if you choose not to give up your wine!


Here are a few tips for making it happen… and you’ve heard it a million times, but MODERATION really is key when it comes to alcohol consumption.


Six (6) diet tips when you plan to consume wine/alcohol

  1. Be sure to get in a good workout the day you plan to indulge.
  2. Don’t skip meals in an attempt to “save up” those calories for drinking – and the extra eating that usually goes along with the drinking.
  3. Determine how much you already consume – is it 2 glasses of wine per night? Start by cutting it down to one, then only have one every other day. And whatever you do, don’t stockpile your drinks all week and have a big binge day on the weekend!
  4. Drink no more than ONE glass per hour.
  5. Have a full glass of water (or two) in between each drink.
  6. Swap out sugary mixers, syrups, sweet wines, heavy beer, and pre-bottled hard alcohol drinks for lower calorie options.

The best alcohols to drink when you’re trying to lose weight


If your goal is weight loss, the best drink to enjoy will be a lower calorie, lower sugar, and lower carb one that will have a more minimal impact on your overall daily nutrition – and your bottom line!


For wine lovers: the best wine for weight loss is dry wine like Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Merlot or a very dry sparkling white wine. Sweet wines have significantly higher calorie and sugar or carb counts.


You can see just by shaving off a couple of drinks per week how the reduction in calories (and alcohol + sugar) could really add up… in the right direction!


Indulging in a few alcoholic drinks when you’re out with friends can help you appreciate the occasion more than when you’re just mindlessly drinking wine on the sofa on a Tuesday night! (Not pointing any fingers!)





National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: Alcohol Metabolism – An Update


Clinical Liver Disease Journal (Nov 2013): Alcohol Metabolism


Health Psychology Journal (May 2016): Alcohol’s acute effect on food intake is mediated by inhibitory control impairments (March 2017): Do We Need To Give Up Alcohol To Lose Weight? Not Necessarily.


Nutrition Action (December 2017): Which Alcohol Packs the Most and Least Calories


Healthline: How Does Alcohol Affect Weight Loss?


Scientific American: Enzyme Lack Lowers Women’s Tolerance for Alcohol