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How Cutting Alcohol Helps Us Lose Weight

Published:
July 12, 2023
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9 min read
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Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
July 12, 2023
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9 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
July 12, 2023
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9 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
July 12, 2023
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9 min read
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Reframe Content Team
July 12, 2023
·
9 min read

They’re everywhere: tips, tricks, diets, and pills for losing weight. But how many of them encourage reducing or eliminating alcohol from our diet entirely?

We probably know that drinking alcohol can make us gain weight. After all, there’s a reason the terms “beer belly” and “wine belly” exist. So, if alcohol can cause us to gain weight, then cutting back on alcohol or cutting it out entirely can probably help us lose weight, right? Let’s dive in.

How Alcohol Causes Weight Gain

Before we look at how alcohol helps us lose weight, it’s helpful to know the many different ways alcohol can cause us to gain weight — from affecting our hormones and sleep quality to causing us to feel hungry.

However, one of the most significant ways alcohol causes weight gain is by interfering with our metabolism. In fact, heavy drinkers and binge drinkers are at a higher risk for obesity due to the metabolic changes that occur when our body is frequently metabolizing alcohol.

Simply put: alcohol keeps our body from burning fat. So every time we drink, we’re essentially shutting down our metabolism, which causes a build up of fat that leads to weight gain.

Here’s how it works: alcohol isn’t processed in the same way we digest other drinks or food. Because alcohol is a toxin, our liver and digestive system have to work extra hard to eliminate it from our body. This prevents our body from accessing all of our other stored macronutrients, such as carbs, proteins, and fat. Even if we have a nutritious meal with an alcoholic beverage, our body struggles to absorb those nutrients because of how hard it works to eliminate alcohol. In other words, our body prioritizes processing alcohol over other nutrients, leading us to store fat.

Furthermore, alcohol is loaded with calories, but they’re considered “empty calories” — they contain little to no beneficial nutrients or minerals. For instance, a standard glass of wine contains approximately 125 calories, and a bottle of beer has about 155 calories. That’s the equivalent of eating a small slice of pizza or a handful of chips!

How Cutting Alcohol Can Lead to Weight Loss

When we stop drinking alcohol and consuming empty calories, our body can return to its normal metabolic function and start burning fat. In the first few days after we stop drinking alcohol, we might notice a quick drop in weight. This is usually just water weight.

But studies suggest that long-term abstention from alcohol can lead to further reductions in calories and fat, thus helping with overall weight reduction. One study noted that participants who abstained from alcohol for one month experienced a significant reduction in their weight.

Apart from restoring metabolic function and eliminating empty calories, cutting out alcohol also has numerous health benefits that can contribute to weight loss. Here are some:

  • Improved sleep. Alcohol negatively impacts our sleep, interfering with the restorative rest our body needs to function optimally. Research shows that sustained sleep deprivation or low quality sleep increases our body’s level of stress hormones, making it more difficult to burn fat. Furthermore, inadequate sleep can lead to hormonal changes that increase our appetite. So cutting out alcohol not only enhances our quality of sleep, but it can improve our ability to burn fat and help us resist that extra snack.
  • Less sugar. A lot of alcoholic beverages, particularly cocktails and mixers, are high in added sugar, which is terrible for our health. For instance, consuming 8 ounces of red wine or champagne will give us around 2-3 grams of sugar — half the amount of sugar recommended for an entire day! But it’s not just the sugar in our drinks we have to worry about. Drinking alcohol can lead to lower blood sugar levels, causing us to crave something sweet. Excessive sugar consumption has both short-term and long-term effects on our health, from causing fatigue and weight gain to heart disease and diabetes.
  • Reduced cravings. Similarly, since alcohol lowers our blood sugar levels, it causes us to feel hungry, even if we’re full. Interestingly, research shows that alcohol stimulates the same neurons in our brain that are triggered when our body goes into starvation mode — which is why we tend to wolf down junk food like pizza and fries, which can make us gain weight over time. Cutting out alcohol essentially keeps these cravings from occurring.
  • Increased energy. Eliminating alcohol can do wonders for our energy levels. As we’ve noted, regular drinking can affect the quality of our sleep, leaving us tired and sluggish throughout the day. Even if we wanted to exercise, our body probably wouldn’t fare well, as alcohol consumption shrinks our aerobic capacity and endurance. By cutting out alcohol, we’re giving our body a natural energy boost that makes it easier for us to be physically active.

While cutting alcohol can certainly help us lose weight, it’s not a magic wand for weight loss. It’s equally important to eat a healthy diet and stay physically active. But when we do stop drinking, both of those things become a little easier!

If you want to stop drinking and start losing weight, Reframe can help. We not only help you cut back on your alcohol consumption, but equip you with everything you need to become the healthiest possible version of you.

They’re everywhere: tips, tricks, diets, and pills for losing weight. But how many of them encourage reducing or eliminating alcohol from our diet entirely?

We probably know that drinking alcohol can make us gain weight. After all, there’s a reason the terms “beer belly” and “wine belly” exist. So, if alcohol can cause us to gain weight, then cutting back on alcohol or cutting it out entirely can probably help us lose weight, right? Let’s dive in.

How Alcohol Causes Weight Gain

Before we look at how alcohol helps us lose weight, it’s helpful to know the many different ways alcohol can cause us to gain weight — from affecting our hormones and sleep quality to causing us to feel hungry.

However, one of the most significant ways alcohol causes weight gain is by interfering with our metabolism. In fact, heavy drinkers and binge drinkers are at a higher risk for obesity due to the metabolic changes that occur when our body is frequently metabolizing alcohol.

Simply put: alcohol keeps our body from burning fat. So every time we drink, we’re essentially shutting down our metabolism, which causes a build up of fat that leads to weight gain.

Here’s how it works: alcohol isn’t processed in the same way we digest other drinks or food. Because alcohol is a toxin, our liver and digestive system have to work extra hard to eliminate it from our body. This prevents our body from accessing all of our other stored macronutrients, such as carbs, proteins, and fat. Even if we have a nutritious meal with an alcoholic beverage, our body struggles to absorb those nutrients because of how hard it works to eliminate alcohol. In other words, our body prioritizes processing alcohol over other nutrients, leading us to store fat.

Furthermore, alcohol is loaded with calories, but they’re considered “empty calories” — they contain little to no beneficial nutrients or minerals. For instance, a standard glass of wine contains approximately 125 calories, and a bottle of beer has about 155 calories. That’s the equivalent of eating a small slice of pizza or a handful of chips!

How Cutting Alcohol Can Lead to Weight Loss

When we stop drinking alcohol and consuming empty calories, our body can return to its normal metabolic function and start burning fat. In the first few days after we stop drinking alcohol, we might notice a quick drop in weight. This is usually just water weight.

But studies suggest that long-term abstention from alcohol can lead to further reductions in calories and fat, thus helping with overall weight reduction. One study noted that participants who abstained from alcohol for one month experienced a significant reduction in their weight.

Apart from restoring metabolic function and eliminating empty calories, cutting out alcohol also has numerous health benefits that can contribute to weight loss. Here are some:

  • Improved sleep. Alcohol negatively impacts our sleep, interfering with the restorative rest our body needs to function optimally. Research shows that sustained sleep deprivation or low quality sleep increases our body’s level of stress hormones, making it more difficult to burn fat. Furthermore, inadequate sleep can lead to hormonal changes that increase our appetite. So cutting out alcohol not only enhances our quality of sleep, but it can improve our ability to burn fat and help us resist that extra snack.
  • Less sugar. A lot of alcoholic beverages, particularly cocktails and mixers, are high in added sugar, which is terrible for our health. For instance, consuming 8 ounces of red wine or champagne will give us around 2-3 grams of sugar — half the amount of sugar recommended for an entire day! But it’s not just the sugar in our drinks we have to worry about. Drinking alcohol can lead to lower blood sugar levels, causing us to crave something sweet. Excessive sugar consumption has both short-term and long-term effects on our health, from causing fatigue and weight gain to heart disease and diabetes.
  • Reduced cravings. Similarly, since alcohol lowers our blood sugar levels, it causes us to feel hungry, even if we’re full. Interestingly, research shows that alcohol stimulates the same neurons in our brain that are triggered when our body goes into starvation mode — which is why we tend to wolf down junk food like pizza and fries, which can make us gain weight over time. Cutting out alcohol essentially keeps these cravings from occurring.
  • Increased energy. Eliminating alcohol can do wonders for our energy levels. As we’ve noted, regular drinking can affect the quality of our sleep, leaving us tired and sluggish throughout the day. Even if we wanted to exercise, our body probably wouldn’t fare well, as alcohol consumption shrinks our aerobic capacity and endurance. By cutting out alcohol, we’re giving our body a natural energy boost that makes it easier for us to be physically active.

While cutting alcohol can certainly help us lose weight, it’s not a magic wand for weight loss. It’s equally important to eat a healthy diet and stay physically active. But when we do stop drinking, both of those things become a little easier!

If you want to stop drinking and start losing weight, Reframe can help. We not only help you cut back on your alcohol consumption, but equip you with everything you need to become the healthiest possible version of you.

Become a Healthier Version of You With Reframe

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet hundreds of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol.

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

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