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How Soon After Quitting Alcohol Will I Lose Weight?

November 7, 2022
21 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.
November 7, 2022
21 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.
November 7, 2022
21 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.
November 7, 2022
21 min read
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Reframe Content Team
November 7, 2022
21 min read

You've marked your calendar, taken a deep breath, and decided to quit or cut back on alcohol. It's a brave step forward, and your body is already cheering you on from the inside out. Among the many questions circling your mind, one stands out: will I lose weight if I stop drinking?

The short answer is that it’s very likely — losing weight after quitting alcohol is one of the perks. What happens to your body when you stop drinking alcohol is nothing short of amazing, and alcohol often goes unremembered when we think about weight management. But while kicking it to the curb can definitely help you on your weight loss journey, there’s more to it. You might be wondering, how soon will I lose weight after quitting alcohol? How long will it take for hormones to balance after quitting alcohol? What is the connection between alcohol and water retention? And how much weight can you lose by not drinking alcohol? Let's find out!

Why Alcohol Packs on the Pounds

First, let’s explore the three main reasons alcohol contributes to weight gain:

1. The Caloric Content Breakdown: Know Your Drinks!

Ever heard of the term "empty calories"? Alcohol is the textbook definition. It doesn’t offer nutritional benefits, but it sure does contribute to our daily calorie count. And while we're at it, let's not forget the mixers — those sneaky add-ins pile up quickly!

  • Wine facts. A standard glass of wine (5 oz) can have around 125 calories. Whether it's red or white, those little sips throughout an evening can accumulate. Think about it: two glasses during dinner, and you're looking at 250 calories — the equivalent of a Dove ice cream bar!
  • Beer basics. Beer, often referred to as "liquid bread," is another diet saboteur. A standard 12 oz can packs about 154 calories, and if you're reaching for a third can while watching a game, you've just downed the caloric equivalent of a slice of pizza!
  • Sneaky spirits. Spirits can be a bit tricky. A shot (1.5 oz) of vodka or whiskey contains roughly 100 calories. Seems minimal, right? But remember, when we pair them with mixers like sodas or sugary juices, the calorie count skyrockets.
  • Messy mixers. Let's consider a popular choice — gin and tonic. While gin has about 97 calories per shot, tonic water adds around 83 calories for a typical 8 oz serving. That's nearly 180 calories in a single drink! And let's not even get started on those creamy, dreamy cocktails — they're a dessert in a glass!
2. Appetite Amplifier: Those Notorious Munchies

Ever had that sudden craving for midnight snacks post your vino or cocktail hours? It's not just you — there's science behind it!

Alcohol can also stimulate appetite, making you reach for that extra slice of pizza or those deliciously crispy fries you promised yourself you'd resist. Here’s how:

  • Messing with brain signals. Alcohol stimulates certain chemicals in the brain that make us feel hungrier than usual. Specifically, alcohol can influence ghrelin — the hunger hormone that tells our brain, "Hey, time to eat!" After a few drinks, that cheese platter or those late-night nachos start seeming irresistibly delicious.
  • Disrupting the satiety signal. Just as alcohol boosts our hunger signals, it also dulls the signals that tell us we're full. Leptin, our satiety hormone, gets sidelined, making it easy to overeat without realizing it.
  • The next day nibble. It's not just about the immediate aftermath! Some people feel exceptionally hungry the day after drinking. This can be the body's way of trying to recover and restore energy levels.
"Why Do I Crave Junk?"

Ever wondered why it's not a salad you’re craving but something greasy or cheesy? Alcohol lowers our inhibitions and impairs our judgment, making us more likely to give in to less-healthy cravings. Plus, fatty foods might momentarily feel like they're absorbing or countering the alcohol (even though they're not truly helping in the ways we think they are).

3. Metabolic Maze: How Alcohol Cuts in Line

What’s happening inside when you're sipping on that cocktail or glass of wine? Here’s the scoop:

How Alcohol Contributes to Weight Gain

So, When Will the Weight Drop?

The timeline can vary. Expecting rapid weight loss after quitting alcohol is probably unrealistic, but with patience you’re likely to see results soon enough! Here's a general idea:

The First Week: Unwrapping the Early Benefits

Embarking on our alcohol-free journey can be both exhilarating and anxiety-provoking. As days unfold and we progress through that very first week, our body starts its behind-the-scenes magic. Let's delve into what we might expect during this initial phase when it comes to weight loss:

  • Bye-bye bloat. Bloating is one of the causes of temporary weight gain after drinking alcohol, and a reduction in booze will likely help your belly “deflate.” Alcohol can cause water retention, especially around the abdomen. As you cut back, your body begins to release this extra water. So if you feel that your jeans are a tad more comfortable or that your reflection looks a bit less puffy, you're not imagining things — it's your body giving you a thumbs up! (If you’re wondering how to get rid of water retention after drinking alcohol faster, one of the best things to do is keep yourself well-hydrated — it might feel counterintuitive, but it works!)
  • Sleep deep. Alcohol can make us drowsy, but it often disrupts the quality of our sleep. Within just a few days of cutting back, many people notice they fall asleep more quickly and wake up feeling more refreshed. This quality sleep feels great — and it can also play a role in weight management. When we’re well-rested, we’re less likely to reach for high-calorie, sugary pick-me-ups the next day.
  • Energy elevation. Without alcohol’s sedative effects, you might find a surge in your energy levels. This boost can naturally lead you to be more active. You may find yourself taking a brisk walk in the park, having an impromptu dance session in your living room, or even just feeling less lethargic throughout the day. (No after-lunch energy dip? Sounds great!)
  • Mood and mental clarity. Though this isn't directly related to weight, it's worth mentioning. As your body adjusts, you might experience a brighter mood and clearer thinking. Without drinking’s foggy aftermath, you might feel sharper, more vibrant, and ready to hit the gym!

Remember, everyone's body is unique, and reactions can differ. While these are general observations many experience in the first week, listen to your own body and its signals. Whether you're taking small steps or big leaps, each day is a stride toward better well-being. Keep going, and cherish every victory, no matter how small!

After One Month: A Milestone of Marvels

Congratulations on reaching the one-month mark! That’s no small feat. As the days accumulate into weeks and you hit that 30-day milestone, your body continues its transformative journey. Curious about the changes brewing within? Let's dive into the wonders of a month sans alcohol.

  • Stabilized sugar levels. Alcohol can cause spikes and dips in blood sugar levels, which can lead to cravings and irregular eating patterns. After a month without alcohol, those roller-coaster blood sugar rides begin to stabilize. This can mean fewer unexpected hunger pangs and a more consistent appetite.
  • Liver love. The liver is incredibly resilient, with a fantastic ability to repair itself. By this point, it’s likely that your liver has started to shed the excess fat it may have accumulated due to alcohol. This cleansing process enhances its efficiency and health, aiding in better digestion and metabolism.
  • Fat loss facilitation. Does alcohol stop fat burning? It certainly can! As your metabolism starts to stabilize and function optimally without the interference of alcohol, the body becomes more efficient at burning fat. Combined with healthier food choices and better sleep, there might be a more noticeable shift in your weight and body composition.
  • Improved cardiovascular health. A month without alcohol benefits your heart and blood vessels. Alcohol is known to raise blood pressure; abstaining can lead to an improvement. This not only means a healthier heart, but it can also reduce the risk of long-term cardiovascular diseases. Improved cardiovascular health can indirectly contribute to weight loss through several mechanisms:
    1. Increased exercise capacity. A healthier heart and vascular system increase our capacity for aerobic exercise. Longer or more intense workouts burn more calories, aiding in weight loss.
    2. Efficient oxygen and nutrient delivery. A strong cardiovascular system ensures efficient delivery of oxygen and nutrients to various body tissues, including muscles. When muscles receive adequate oxygen, they can function optimally during workouts, leading to better performance and increased calorie burn.
    3. Improved metabolism. Cardiovascular health is closely linked with metabolic processes. A healthy heart can aid in the efficient burning of calories and fat. Moreover, regular cardiovascular exercise can shift our body composition to favor muscle mass. Muscles, as metabolically active tissues, burn more calories even at rest, which can aid in weight loss and maintenance.
    4. Enhanced motivation and energy levels. A healthy heart can lead to better circulation and increased energy levels. This can motivate us to be more active throughout the day, leading to a higher overall calorie expenditure.
    5. Reduced inflammation. Good cardiovascular health is associated with reduced inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation has been linked to weight gain and obesity; reducing inflammation might make it easier to manage or reduce weight.
  • Enhanced hydration. Without alcohol’s dehydrating effects, our fluid balance improves. Proper hydration supports every cell and function in the body, from skin health to kidney function and a healthy metabolism.

Ongoing Benefits: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Hitting longer milestones in your alcohol-free journey is truly a gift that keeps on giving. As days turn into weeks and weeks into months, the benefits compound. Here’s what you might find as you unwrap the ongoing benefits of your commitment:

  • Sustained weight management. With alcohol out of the picture, you might find it easier to maintain your desired weight. Your metabolic processes are more consistent, and those previously alcohol-induced munchies might no longer ambush your diet. The cumulative effect of all the positive changes can lead to more sustainable weight management practices.
  • Muscle matters. Without the interference of alcohol, your muscle recovery post-workouts could improve. Over time, this means better strength, endurance, and muscle tone. Whether you’re lifting weights or just carrying the groceries, you might feel stronger and more resilient.
  • Digestive delight. Your digestive system is a complex machine that prefers stability. Remove the wrench of alcohol, and over time, you might experience less bloating, more regular bowel movements, and better nutrient absorption.
  • Stronger immune system. Alcohol can suppress the immune system. With prolonged abstinence, your body's defenses can become more robust, potentially leading to fewer illnesses and better overall health.
  • Emotional equilibrium. Without the mood swings induced by alcohol, you might find a more consistent emotional landscape. A steadier mood can lead to improved relationships, better decision-making around food choices, and an enhanced quality of life.
  • Pocketbook perks. While not a physical or mental benefit, the financial changes are worth mentioning. The savings from not purchasing alcohol can add up over time, offering you the chance to invest in other wellness endeavors or experiences.

As you stay alcohol-free, the long-term benefits compound. Reduced calorie intake, better sleep, more energy for physical activity, and a more efficiently working metabolism can all contribute to weight loss over time!

Factors Influencing Weight Loss

Everyone's body is different, so your individual results can vary based on these factors:

  • Daily calorie intake. If you substitute sugary drinks for alcohol, you might not see weight loss. Opt for sparkling water with a splash of juice for flavor, not a soda.
  • Activity level. Engaging in regular physical activity can help boost weight loss.
  • Metabolism. Age, genetics, and other factors influence how quickly or slowly you shed weight.

7 Action Steps To Support Weight Loss After Quitting Alcohol

Finally, here are seven tips to help kickstart your weight loss journey post-booze!

  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water. It not only helps with detoxification, but it also keeps you full, reducing the chance of overeating.
  • Sleep well. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep. Proper rest can regulate hormones that manage appetite and weight.
  • Plan your meals. Prepare balanced meals with lean proteins, whole grains, and plenty of veggies. This can help prevent impulsive, unhealthy eating choices.
  • Stay active. Find an exercise you love. It could be walking, swimming, dancing, or even gardening. Just move!
  • Mindful eating. Pay attention to what you eat. Savor each bite, and you might find yourself eating less but enjoying more.
  • Limit sugary drinks. Just because it's not alcohol doesn't mean it's calorie-free. Watch out for sodas, sweetened teas, and fancy coffees. If a drink tastes like a delicious dessert, you should probably save it for special occasions.
  • Stay accountable. Share your goal with a friend or join a support group. Celebrate your small victories together.

Your Journey to Better Health

Quitting or cutting back on alcohol is a commendable step toward improved health and well-being. Weight loss can be an added bonus, among other health benefits. Be patient with yourself, stay consistent, and remember that every body is different. You're already on a fantastic journey — keep going! 

Summary FAQs

1. How soon can I expect to see weight loss after quitting alcohol?

Initial changes can be observed in the first week, including reduced bloating. More consistent weight loss patterns can emerge in the following weeks and months as metabolism stabilizes and other factors come into play.

2. Will I naturally consume fewer calories after quitting alcohol?

Yes, by eliminating the direct calories from alcoholic beverages and potentially reducing alcohol-induced munchies, you're likely to have a reduced caloric intake.

3. How does my metabolism change after I stop drinking?

Without alcohol, the body doesn't prioritize metabolizing a toxin. This can lead to better efficiency in burning fats and sugars, aiding in weight loss.

4. Does quitting alcohol improve my exercise outcomes?

Yes, with improved cardiovascular health, better sleep, and enhanced energy levels, your capacity and performance in exercise can see positive changes, contributing to weight loss.

5. What impact does abstaining from alcohol have on my appetite and food choices?

Alcohol can lead to fluctuations in blood sugar, inducing hunger. Without it, you might experience stabilized blood sugar levels and, consequently, healthier and more consistent food choices.

6. How does my body composition change after quitting alcohol?

Alongside potential fat loss, you might experience better muscle recovery and growth due to improved exercise outcomes and sleep. This can lead to a more toned physique over time.

7. Will the weight loss benefits continue if I remain abstinent from alcohol in the long term?

Yes, the ongoing benefits of quitting alcohol, from improved metabolism to better food choices and enhanced exercise capacity, can support sustained weight management and health.

Ready To Leave Alcohol Behind and Watch the Weight Drop? Reframe Is Here To Help!

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 millions 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 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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