Despite the calories in alcohol, is it okay to have a drink if you are also trying to lose weight? Surprisingly, the answer is yes.
Of course, there are certain parameters you should follow but, in general, if you enjoy a glass of wine or a beer or a mixed drink now and again, it doesn’t mean you have to stop drinking altogether in order to lose weight
In fact, for reasons we don’t clearly understand, studies seem to suggest that people with a moderate alcohol intake (one drink a day for women, two drinks a day for men) have fewer odds of having a weight problem, not more, despite the empty calories alcohol contains.
I have some theories of why this may be, including that perhaps these people have a lower stress level or might eat a healthier “Mediterranean-style” diet. Or it could be that their balanced alcohol consumption is part of an overall tendency toward doing nothing in excess, or that perhaps alcohol may contain certain chemical compounds that in small amounts are helpful in weight regulation. (A moderate alcohol intake has been linked to reduced risk of heart disease and other health issues, as well.)
Naturally, I don’t recommend someone who doesn’t currently drink to start drinking as a way to control his or her weight. Likewise, I wouldn’t recommend someone with a history of binge drinking or alcoholism to try to drink moderately. In these cases avoiding alcohol intake rather than increasing it would be the way to go.
But if you are someone who occasionally enjoys having a drink, you don’t need to change the habit as long as you observe a few common sense practices.
First, like with any food or drink, be sure to factor the calories from alcohol that you consume into your overall daily intake and make sure the calories from alcohol aren’t so many that they are edging out healthier foods you should be eating more of.
Second, be choosy about what types or drinks you partake of. A glass of wine or a wine spritzer, for example, has hundreds of fewer calories from alcohol than a pina colada. A light beer is a better choice than a margarita. A gin with diet tonic water has far fewer calories than a daiquiri, and so on.
In short, if you drink alcohol in moderation and are mindful of your choices, it is possible to lose weight without having to become a teetotaler.
Dr. Michael Kaplan
Founder and Chief Medical Officer