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Why Is it Important Not to Drink Alcohol When Trying to Lose Weight?

By Lynne Sheldon ; Updated July 18, 2017

Drinking excess alcohol can pose great risks to your health, but it can also harm your waistline and inhibit your weight-loss efforts. Alcoholic beverages contain empty calories, which may lead you to consume more than you need to without any nutritional benefits. Keep your alcohol consumption down to drop those excess pounds and maintain your overall health, and ask your doctor what amount of booze is best for you.

Empty Calories

No matter what types of food or drinks they come from, calories are calories, and you will not lose weight if you take in more than you expend. But alcohol contains empty calories that provide no nutritional benefits, so drinking it will most likely not satisfy your hunger, potentially causing you to eat more later. Furthermore, there are more calories in a single gram of alcohol than in one gram of carbohydrate -- 7 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram. Ideally, you will want to get the bulk of your daily calories from healthy items like fruit, whole grains, vegetables, lean protein and low-fat dairy.

Belly Fat

Drinking too much alcohol can actually cause you to gain weight, particularly around your middle. This is the reason for the term “beer belly,” but consuming too much of any type of alcohol can lead to an increase in your waistline. Excess belly fat is especially dangerous for your health, since it can increase your risk of diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea and high cholesterol. Limiting your alcohol intake along with watching your diet and exercising can reduce your abdominal fat and overall weight, cutting your health risks.

Other Health Risks

Excess alcohol consumption will not only stall your weight-loss efforts, but it can also pose additional risks to your health. Drinking too much alcohol can cause your blood pressure to increase, as well as heighten your likelihood of having a stroke. It also puts you at risk for developing certain kinds of cancer, like breast, colon, lung, kidney and liver. Furthermore, your risk of developing these cancers increases with the more alcohol you drink and the longer you have been consuming it.


To help you reach your weight-loss goals as well as improve your overall health, you need to watch how much alcohol you drink. A moderate consumption means no more than one drink a day for women and two for men. One drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer or 5 ounces of wine. A few ways to cut calories is to mix wine with a few ounces of seltzer water to make a spritzer, or try light beer instead of dark. You do not have to eliminate alcohol entirely, unless directed to do so by a doctor, but limiting it is essential for getting rid of those extra pounds and keeping them off.

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