Alcohol the effect on your Weight

Often the first thing people think about when trying to making changes to their weight is  food. However, often drinks particularly alcohol is completely forgotten about. Alcohol has almost as many calories per gram as fat has, and therefore, deserves some attention when starting to make changes to lose weight.

The other problem with alcohol is that it reduces your inhibitions and increases your appetite. Therefore, when you drink you are more likely to eat more food in particular foods that are high in fat and salt. This is often particularly noticeable the day after excessive alcohol.

A unit/standard drink of pure alcohol is equal to 10mls or 8 grammes. This is considered the average amount an adult human body can break down in one hour. It is important to be aware that some alcohol will have a higher alcohol percentage. For example, standard spirits are 40% alcohol by volume. Therefore, 100mls of spirits contain 4 units of alcohol.


A snapshot of calories of popular alcoholic drinks:


The following tips will help you to cut down on alcohol consumption:

Start by Cutting Down
If you drink regularly, it can be difficult to cut out alcohol completely. The first step that might be easier is to try drinking less each time you drink. For example, drink one less pint or glass of wine etc. You would be surprised how just small changes can have a real impact when you are trying to lose weight.

Consider your Drink Size
Choosing a bottle of beer in place of a pint of beer will help you drink less over the course of an evening out.

Slow Down
Plan to drink slower with the goal that you will drink less in the night. This can be especially effective at the beginning of a night out. Sometimes people will place their drink just out of arms reach to help them drink slower.

Avoid Being in a ‘Round’
When out socialising with others try and stay out of ‘rounds’. That way you can drink at your own pace rather than keeping up with others.

Choose Low Calorie Mixers
Mixers used with spirits can be high in sugar and calories. So be aware of what you are
drinking and choose low calorie mixers eg diet drinks or slim line tonic water if you are drinking spirits.

Alcohol Free Days
Many people in Ireland (if they are honest) will report that they drink alcohol every day of the week. It is a good idea to instil at least 2 alcohol free days in the week for health. For weight loss, it is best to keep alcohol to the weekend only.

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Aoife Hearne MINDI
Consultant Dietitian




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