04 Jul Can you drink alcohol and lose weight?
Do you feel like you’re missing out on fun and socializing if you’re not drinking alcohol?
Or feel tempted to drink just by being around others who are drinking—even if no one offers you a drink?
If you answered yes to either of these questions, you are not alone, my friend.
Social pressure, wanting to fit in and FOMO are common motives to drink. On top of that, many women I work with (myself included) sometimes use alcohol as a coping mechanism to distract from uncomfortable emotions or to build social confidence.
The truth is alcohol can really derail your big life goals. But you already know this.
Whether your goal is to get up early and go for a hike, hit the road with your bike or convertible for some infusion of nature, go to the gym or the yoga studio, drinking the night before stalls your energy, motivation, drive and depletes your quality of sleep. If your goal is increasing your energy levels or metabolism or to shed some stubborn fat, I’m sure you already know that alcohol doesn’t contribute in a positive way to any of these aspirations.
I’m not here to lecture to you on drinking, I’m here to give you a little bit of background of why I believe (and coach my clients) to be selective on when and how they choose to drink. Because I want you to feel empowered in your decisions, confident in your body and your choices. I want you to feel like the amazing badass that you are – and that starts by feeling good in your mind and body. The most direct way to feel good is standing firm and proudly behind the choices you make, keeping the promises you make to yourself and what you decide to ingest (physically and emotionally – but we’ll leave the emotional piece for another time).
Here are my top 5 tips to help you have fun AND reach your goals:
Plan when you’re going to drink alcohol and pre-determine the quantity of drinks in advance.
I’d suggest that you even decide in advance what kind of drinks you’ll have. This is a mindset hack – well, not really a hack but a psychological tool. When you make a decision in advance, you’re engaging your prefrontal cortex, the rational, planning, higher thinking center of your brain. If you rely solely on the primitive (reptilian) part of your brain – the part that’s pleasure seeking, you’re at a disadvantage, because it’s programmed biologically to want more. The seeking and reward of pleasure is hardwired into our brain with dopamine. That’s science! And your willpower cannot override it. Once you learn how your body works, I believe you’ll know how to control it, rather than feeling defeated or like something is wrong with you.
It’s better from a metabolic perspective to drink a few drinks periodically, rather than one every night.
Many of my clients have been conditioned to think, one glass of wine with dinner each night is better for them than indulging once a week or month. The truth is, that alcohol is considered a neurotoxin and your body goes into high alert and emergency mode when alcohol is in your system. So, all other non-essential processes get put on pause to deal with the threat. That means digestion and metabolism are put in neutral. And in some cases for up to 3 days. If you’re drinking a little every night, you’ll never get out of neutral, metabolically. Plus it’s impossible to burn fat while drinking alcohol and you end up consuming empty calories that can contribute to weight gain.
You can fit in, feel special and like you’re getting a reward by filling your glass with something other than alcohol.
I suggest filling your favorite fancy glass with something that is supportive to your health and to your big life goals. How rewarding is that!?! Think of things like sparkling water, coconut water, kombucha or chilled teas. You can also get creative with mocktails – here are some of my long-time favorite mocktail recipes. Just keep the sugar levels in mind when making mocktails if your goals are to boost your metabolism, shed fat or gain more energy.
When you do choose to consciously drink alcohol, it’s best to drink lots of water and drink alcohol with a meal instead of on an empty stomach.
The alcohol will have less effect on your blood sugar, body and brain when your stomach is full and the water will help flush the neurotoxin out as quickly as possible.
It’s okay to politely, firmly and with confidence say “I’m not drinking right now”.
There’s no need to defend or explain your choice, however I realize that may be a daunting option for some. If that’s the case, there are plenty of 0% alcohol drink options today to put in your glass that look like an alcoholic beverage.
So let’s say you’re planning a night out now and are consciously choosing to consume alcohol. First, congratulations! That’s such an empowering decision. I trust that you feel like you’re in control and that you’re feeling confident. Awesome!
Let’s look at the best kind of alcoholic choices you can make to support your metabolism and health goals.
The best to worst alcoholic drinks, in my opinion (based from sugar, carb, calorie and toxin content):
- clear liquor like quality vodka, gin or tequila
- dark spirits like whiskey, scotch, rum
- dry champagne
- white wine
- red wine
- sweet wines
- sweet champagnes
- sugary cocktails
[These are my opinions based on my research and experience. You may have different reasons for selecting your drink of choice, and that’s cool. If you’re looking for guidance here, these are my recommendations.]
I do believe that you can drink alcohol and reach your health goals and even lose fat.
Here’s how to drink and reach your health goals:
- swap the wine for a clear spirit like tequila or choose a vodka soda. Clear spirits are low in calories and carbs. While I love wine in a nice glass, it really is liquid sugar. It wreaks havoc on blood sugar regulation, insulin levels and ability to burn fat. Plus a vast majority of wine contains sulphites and toxins from spraying the grapes. If you do drink wine, choose organic or natural wines where possible or better yet, stick to the vodka and soda.
- skip the beer or limit it to one if you have weight loss goals. The impact of beer on your metabolism will vary depending on the variety, but they contain a lot of carbohydrates which adds to insulin release and fat storage. A better option will be clear spirits like vodka, gin or tequila. It’s worth repeating – clear liquors are the best choice.
- make sure you eat before drinking – ideally eat a meal with a good amount of protein (20 – 30g) and good quality fat to help lessen the impact of glucose and insulin spikes – because insulin makes you store more fat while making it impossible to burn fat. Blood sugar regulation is key to fat loss and a healthy metabolism.
- don’t add sweeteners (real, seemingly healthy or artificial) to your drinks – for the reasons I’ve outlined above, you want to keep your glucose levels balanced. Enhance your drink with real fruit or even herbs, instead. Mmmm think of muddled raspberry, basil and vodka with soda.
I trust I’ve been clear on my opinion that drinking alcohol frequently or irresponsibly can really stall your weight and body goals. And while being hungover sucks the life, joy and energy out of you, it is so often what drives you to eat things you wouldn’t normally eat, so drinking alcohol can have a compounding effect on keeping you from reaching your health and weight goals.
You may also notice from experience that alcohol is a depressant. It may not feel like it while you’re drinking it but there’s a good chance you’ll feel the downside affects the next day. In fact, this may be an underlying cause that makes you want to drink more the next day.
This post is intended to arm you with some tools to help you drink responsibly and reach your goals, not to feel shame or guilt for choosing to drink.
Remember, your goals are achievable! The vision you have of your future self is possible!
The future version of you will love the present version of you for the commitment of making supportive choices today.
You’ve got this!
Here’s to having fun AND reaching your goals.