Have you been thinking about no longer drinking alcohol, or are you already living alcohol-free? Either way, here at Reframe we want to congratulate you for taking a bold step towards improving your quality of life and your overall health!
One of the challenges that can come along with no longer drinking, however, is that we can easily start to gain weight. This happens because our bodies are missing the calories they’re used to getting from alcoholic drinks, so we can find ourselves substituting other food and drinks which might have even more calories than the original alcoholic beverages. Over time, this can add up to weight gain. If you’re considering the alcohol-free path, we want you to be aware of the possible pitfalls that can arise in your efforts to not drink. And, if you’re already on that path by avoiding alcohol, then we especially want to equip you with the knowledge and skills you need to thrive and continue on your alcohol-free journey.
So, let’s get to it! Here are some of the best tips we’ve found for how to lose weight when you quit drinking.
Keep Track of Calories
In order to compensate for the loss of calories from alcohol, it will be helpful to know what your baseline of calories is to begin with. Therefore, keeping a food journal can give you an idea of what you’re consuming on a daily basis so you know what to compare your diet to moving forward. You might keep track of calories the old fashioned way with a pen and paper, or you can find any number of calorie-tracking apps on your phone. The more detailed your journal, the better — try to include things like when you ate or drank, what the portion or drink size was, and any other relevant details so you can have an accurate comparison from week to week.
This will be a great aid in your alcohol-free journey because now you’ll catch on to any unhealthy trends in how you’re eating during meals and when you’re snacking in between. Perhaps after quitting alcohol, you’ll find yourself being hungry at the times when you used to drink, or your body may signal that it wants more calories at different times. Each of us is different, which is why it’s so important for you to understand your unique body and habits. Doing so will be a great first step towards losing weight after you quit drinking!
Boost Your Protein and Vegetables
When we’re trying to lose weight, the types of food we eat can make a big difference, not just the amount. Foods that are rich in protein, for example, can help give our metabolism a boost and this contributes to weight loss. Some ideas for protein include lean meats, fish, nuts, eggs, tofu, and beans. Because proteins require more time to be digested, you will likely feel full longer than after you eat other kinds of foods, and therefore you’ll be less likely to snack in between meals. Speaking of snacks, try to make your eating in between meals actually nutritional — this could be something as simple as a hard-boiled egg instead of a candy bar.
Another key group of food to include in your diet are vegetables because they’re low in calories but high in nutrients, so they can help fill you up without adding too many calories to your overall diet. Vegetables can be incorporated into every meal along with the proteins we discussed above — think about an egg-white omelette with your favorite veggies diced and mixed in. Vegetables can even be incorporated into your snack routine — in that case, it might be celery sticks with nut butter or carrots with hummus.
A key step to take in order to help boost your diet with these excellent sources of nutrition is to set aside time every week to plan out what you’ll eat each day. Think about the foods you enjoy the most and make a meal plan based on those — and then, if possible, consider doing your grocery shopping online so that you’ll only get the items that you really need and you’ll be less likely to throw those impulse purchases into your cart.
Avoid Processed Foods
When you’re meal planning and shopping, you’ll also want to steer clear of processed foods which are high in calories but low in nutritional value. Sure, they taste good, but they won’t be digested as well as natural foods and they’ll leave you feeling worse in the long run than if you had stuck with the healthy stuff.
This doesn’t mean you can’t ever have a cookie or some chips, but it does mean that if you do indulge in them, they should be more of an occasional treat than an everyday staple of your diet. Try to stick to whole foods wherever you can, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. There are also many ways to enjoy your favorite treats in a more healthy way — for instance, you might try a health-conscious version of a cookie recipe and be pleasantly surprised at just how good it tastes (with way fewer calories!). And, if you’re a big fan of frozen meals, try to cook your own food on the weekends and freeze it to reheat during the week. This will still give you the convenience of frozen dinners but a lot more nutritional value and a lot less calories.
Every plan to lose weight should include some form of exercise because moving our body is going to increase our metabolism and burn more calories. You don’t have to sign up for a marathon in order to reap the benefits of intentional exercise — just try to set aside time at least a few times a week to do the activities that you most enjoy. Even walking for 30 minutes can be an excellent way to burn calories without having to do an intense workout.
Find the things you like doing so that you’ll be more likely to actually do them. And, as with your diet plan, sit down at the beginning of the week and schedule exactly when you’re going to exercise and what you’re going to do during that window of time. Depending on your ability level and preference, you can also try jogging, cycling, swimming or an aerobics class. Group classes are especially helpful for encouraging us to get our exercise in. We have a set time and place to be, we develop relationships with our classmates, and we’re more likely to show up and get the workout in.
Drink Water and Get Plenty of Sleep
These two key factors will be extremely important to solidifying all the gains we’re making in the other areas. Drinking enough water (ideally eight glasses per day) helps our body stay hydrated and healthy by keeping our metabolism functioning at its peak efficiency. It also helps if we can drink a glass of water before we reach for another portion or an extra snack that we hadn’t planned on — sometimes just filling our stomach can help us stave off the craving for more food. If we find that plain water doesn’t sound good, we can always add some low-calorie flavoring to it by infusing herbs and fruits like strawberries and mint.
Additionally, we set ourselves up for success with weight loss when we get the right amount of sleep, which is usually seven to eight hours per night for most adults. Going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every day can also help your body get into a solid routine that will maximize your energy and performance, along with your metabolism. To get the best sleep, try to limit the amount of caffeine you drink, don’t use screens in your bedroom, and develop a relaxing routine in the evening that includes journaling, reading, stretching, or meditation before getting into bed.
Ready To Stop Drinking? Join the Reframe App Today!
Whether you’re cutting back or quitting for good, Reframe has got you covered. Our #1 neuroscience-backed app has helped hundreds of thousands of people to drink less or stop drinking altogether.
We do science, not stigma! Our goal is to equip you with the tools and knowledge you need to succeed in your drinking and weight loss goals as part of living a healthier, happier lifestyle. If you feel like you’re alone by not drinking, then we’ve got a fantastic community of people just like you from around the world who are standing by in our 24/7 Forum chat and in our daily Zoom check-in calls. Get the support and encouragement you need to sustain you through the challenges of cutting back or transitioning to sobriety. We’re so excited that you’re embarking on this journey and we want to help you succeed, so we’re offering you a 7-day free trial to give our app a try and see for yourself whether it’s the right fit for you. Get ready to discover life beyond drinking. Download the Reframe app now and let’s get started!