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Paige Waehner

Alcohol and Weight Gain

By April 25, 2013

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I was training a client recently and, after she mentioned the extra wine she'd had the previous evening, I made the mistake of bringing up a report put out by the National Center for Health Statistics about that very topic. The report found that, on average, American adults get at least 100 calories a day from beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages and some of us may get more than 300 extra calories.

There were some other interesting facts in there as well, but I didn't have time to bring them up because, it was at this point my client stopped in mid-pedal (she was on her elliptical machine), grabbed her chest and shouted, "You will NOT take my chard! I need my chard!"

For the record, she wasn't talking about chard, as in the leafy green vegetable, but the kind of chard that comes in a bottle with a cork.

That's Chardonnay, if you didn't figure that out.

I'm sure many of us enjoy our chard - or whatever alcoholic beverage we prefer - and I'm also sure that many of us worry how much our drinking may affect our waistlines. After all, estimating how many calories we're eating may be common practice for some, but how many of us look up the calorie counts for our favorite alcoholic beverages?

That isn't to say we can't enjoy a drink from time to time, but if you're watching your waistline, you have to watch all your calories...even the ones you don't particularly want to watch. If you want to know more, check out my most recently updated article in which I talk about how alcohol can sabotage your weight loss goals. If you don't want to know more, carry on.

Now, it's your turn. Do you drink alcohol and, if so, do you pay attention to how much you drink? How much do you worry about alcohol and weight gain? Leave a comment and tell us how you deal with alcohol and your weight.

November 18, 2009 at 8:54 am
(1) kitchenwench says:

I have lots of friends who drink like crazy and then can’t figure why their butts keep getting bigger. Go figure……

November 18, 2009 at 9:01 am
(2) Jane says:

I stick with red wine and mostly only have it on the weekends. You get buzzed quicker than with most cocktails and it’s a lot fewer calories.

November 18, 2009 at 12:31 pm
(3) fanny says:

I am not a big drinker and am a light weight. I prefer stronger alcohol, which means I like mixed drinks. This also means I have to watch what I drink.

The other thing people forget is that when you do drink and get buzzed, you forget to watch what you are eating at a party. You tend to munch without paying attention, so drinking is two fold, the calories from the beverage and the extra munchies you don’t pay attention to. I lose best when I don’t drink at all.

November 18, 2009 at 7:40 pm
(4) Lena Lee says:

The highest my weight has ever been was during the time when I waitressed. Why? I mean it was an extremely fast paced, on my feet, non-stop movement job….Well because me and my fellow coworkers would go out for drinks every other night and drink after work. Once I left the field, stopped drinking and lost weight it starled me just how much weight alcohol can pack on – especially since my new job was behind a desk and I weighed about 30lbs less.

November 18, 2009 at 9:02 pm
(5) Barb says:

I agree with Fanny. Drinking to much reduces your control. I like a couple of glasses of wine in the evening but it can easily lead to more than a couple. So I’ve vowed to myself that for every glass of wine, I must dring a bottle of water (16 oz) in between.

November 18, 2009 at 11:12 pm
(6) DJ says:

Fanny, is right drinking will increase your appetite. Also, once I learned that alcohol consumption diverts your body fat burning process just to process the alcohol, it became very clear-that extreme moderation was the only way to go.

November 19, 2009 at 9:28 am
(7) Lisa says:

I am a recovering alcoholic(sober since 1-14-08) In the 22 months since I stopped drinking, I have lost over 75lbs. It was amazing how quickly the lbs came off, but I had never really stopped to think about alll the calories I consumed in a day. The average diet is around 2000 calories a day-add to that the 7-10 shots of whiskey I drank(at 100 calories each)-no wonder I weighed over 220 when I stopped drinking!!
I would encourage those who will imbibe over the holidays to make a point to walk, swim, whatever extra so that the extra glass of eggnog or hot toddy doesn’t end up on your waistline or backside!

November 22, 2009 at 2:24 am
(8) svb says:

It was never about what I drank…until recently. For some reason I feel like I cannot get rid of my lil’ tummy…now I am starting to second guess my wine consumption…

November 23, 2009 at 11:24 pm
(9) Chris says:

I’ve been on Atkins for awhile, dropped 15-20, and I’m trying to lose an extra 10. Last I checked, rum, scotch, vodka, those sugar free alcohols have zero sugar and zero calories. Do they have any effect on weight gain or am I just nuts? Even Dr. Atkins has said that if you’re on the diet, the alcohol gets burned first so you’re taking a risk that the fat will stay on you if you drink – even if it’s low carb alcohol.

I get that alcohol induces hunger, but does alcohol itself cause you to put weight on, even if you have the will power to say no?

November 24, 2009 at 4:00 pm
(10) Kara says:

Rum, Vodka, etc. ALL have calories.

November 25, 2009 at 1:24 pm
(11) sediqua says:

I did not want to beleive it. I thought red wine was ok, and did not think it was hindering my weight loss efforts. Because drinking wine and martinis is my only dietary vice, I thought it was OK while exercising and dieting. Its not.

One a day is OK, but even then, its best to stop completely, at least until you’ve reached your maintence stage of weight loss.

For one, the effects of alcohol on weight gain is not a calorie for calorie issue. If your drink alcohol, this becomes the fuel of choice, and your body will not BURN FAT. So all those days with me weight lifting and on the treadmill were cancelled out by my drinking.

Second of all, again, because alcohol is the fuel of choice, it acts like embalming fluid to your whole body. So all those weightloss supplements I was taking, was all for nothing, because the nutrients could not be absorbed.

Third of all, alcohol leads to dehydration. You are supposed to consume half your weight in oz daily, in order to burn calories. Thats a lot of water! So lets say you weigh 200 pounds, technically, you would have to drink 100 oz of water each day to lose weight, and flush fat out of your body.

Drinking alcohol can interefer with this process too.

Also, if you are drinking more than two a day, you run the risk of vitamin deficiencies that contribute to water retention, mainly, a deficiency of vitamin B. One of the side effects of a vitamin B deficiency is swelling.

I used to keep a journal, and at first, did not think my wine or martinis effected my weight loss efforts. Recently, I’ve started to drink a little bit more, and despite keeping my calories below 1300, some days I wake up puffy and and my eyes and face and tummy looking swelled.

So now, finally, I am going to give up wine and martinis for the next thirty days, and see how much better I feel.

December 17, 2009 at 3:09 am
(12) Michael says:

I like to drink. I don’t do it everyday but on certain weekends I might go a bit crazy and have 5-8 whisky-cokes easy (diet coke mind you.. ) ;)
I also like to work out. I go to the gym 3-4 days a week with an intense exercise program. I am fit but still working the kinks. anyway, the worst thing about drinking is not the calories gained by the alcohol itself, it’s the mindset of wanting to eat afterwards to ‘soak up’ the alcohol so you won’t have a hangover the next day. I know its most likely dehydration and all you need is water to make you feel better, but you’ve been drinking all night. The last thing you want to do when you’re heading back home is sipping on more liquids, even though I do force myself to drink at least a small bottle of water before going to sleep!

April 26, 2013 at 7:55 am
(13) Betty says:

I find it’s pretty easy to factor in the calories of some cold beer to my fitness diary. I am aware that I will NOT have washboard abs if I continue to do that. (Note: There’s also a distinct possibility that i won’t have washboard abs even if I stop.) But the risk factor for me is a little alcohol lowers my resolve to control my caloric intake.

April 26, 2013 at 10:48 am
(14) Karen says:

I think it is like everything, it’s all very personal. If you think alcohol is causing you to gain or unable to maintain weight, then go off the sauce for a while and see what happens. If you can’t give it up, well that is an entirley different issue. I, personally, had to cut back on alcohol quite a bit due to a medical situation and I was secretly hoping some of the pounds would go with it. I found that alchol addition or subtraction has made very little difference in my weight. I am a heavy eater and a heavy exerciser and I am not interested in changing either of those thing, so I accept what that offers me:)

April 29, 2013 at 5:20 pm
(15) susan says:

Well, I don’t think it’s the alcohol that is so high in calories as the food
that you eat when you drink. Have you ever seen a fat alcoholic? I haven’t and they don’t gain weight because they don’t eat only drink.

April 29, 2013 at 5:29 pm
(16) BHA says:

I do believe alcohol prevents weight loss. Not only the calories, but how those calories react with your body. 250 calories of a snickers are not the same as 250 calories of broccoli. HOWEVER, I have quit drinking for 3 weeks. A month. My weight doesn’t change. WHY? I get so bummed I go back to my glass of wine w/dinner. not 4 oz, but 6 oz. oh, dear. the challenge goes on.

April 29, 2013 at 5:48 pm
(17) Cathy says:

I drink virgin vodka tonics. Tonic water cut with sparkling water and a squeeze of lime. Makes a tasty cocktail and fits in at a party.

April 29, 2013 at 6:37 pm
(18) janay says:

Bha- try cross referencing it with the blood type diet. I am a type A and red wine acts as a medicine. Research that to see if it helps.

April 29, 2013 at 8:55 pm
(19) Jim says:

Hello: I quit drinking Jan 12th, 2013 and have lost 45 lbs so far to date. Been working out and never felt better. I have got a lot out of the daily tips I get on stress relief. Thanks so much for all the great information. Jim A.

April 30, 2013 at 2:57 am
(20) Colin says:

Yes I work six day’s a week, long hours, used to get home, crack a tinny, start a meal, nibble on what I was preparing, crack another tinny, eat my meal, with another tinny, finish my meal have another couple.
the old waist and butt was blowing out even though I worked in a fast paced work environment. changed the first tinny to a cup of tea, prepped a meal, no nibbles, had one with the meal one after, yep the waist and butt are going down bigtime.so for me drinking I had to nible food

April 30, 2013 at 5:15 am
(21) Anofuctus says:

I have never suffered in all my life when it comes to alcohol being involved with my weight gain or weight loss. I can get myself revved up to put on 20lb. of muscle in about 8 weeks or more. I get with my buddies for a weekend of partying and I lose all it and more that I had accomplished by Monday morning! I had to kick the booze and my buddies to the curb.

April 30, 2013 at 8:06 am
(22) Aimless says:

Once in awhile, mostly weekends, I will have a low cal beer (okay 2 or 3) BUT… I make sure I have extra time on the Eliptical or running to make up for the extra calories. Many family members cannot figure out why they continue to gain weight despite their “efforts” and constantly ask me how I maintain mine. I always point out the “hidden” calories in the beer, wine, rum and soda and say that it is fine to have a caloric beverage as long as you are willing to run the extra 15 to 45 minutes. To put it into perspective, pretend you have to walk the mile to the store to get every single beer you want. I guess you will really, really want that beer if you are willing to walk a mile for EVERY beer just to get one!!

May 1, 2013 at 1:30 am
(23) Brenda says:

I have been struggling with the whole alcohol, exercise and guilt thing. Usually I drink red wine or whiskey, and normally only at parties / socially. Drinking too much leads to bad eating, hangover, not wanting to exercise the next day, feeling depressed, and then guilty. Perhaps I feel this way because I am trying to live a healthy life. I exercise 5/7 days a week, because it helps my moods. Thanks for your articles, they are very helpful.

May 3, 2013 at 8:53 am
(24) Jon says:

I used to drink alot. I grew tired of it and just stopped (with a support group). At the time I was 35lbs overwieght after I stopped and began a fitness program I lost 30lbs in the last year. The first 20 or so came off rather quickly which I assume was the ‘Alochol wieght’.

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