When it comes to getting in shape, it would seem that alcohol and weight loss don’t fit together. Giving up alcohol altogether might be ideal, but for some people, this just seems impossible. Grabbing a drink with friends or enjoying a cocktail on vacation can bring people joy, and most people don’t want to give that up. Luckily, there is a way to drop those pounds without giving up alcohol. It just requires some thoughtful tweaks and a commitment to making healthier choices.
“It is possible to lose weight while drinking alcohol,” says Aaptiv trainer Jaime McFaden. “It is not suggested or recommended. However, an occasional drink or night out isn’t going to ruin all efforts of weight loss.” In order to make sure that happy hour doesn’t sabotage your health, you’ll want to utilize these tips to lose weight without giving up alcohol.
Set goals, up front.
To have the most success with drinking alcohol and weight loss, set clear goals for limiting alcohol consumption up front. “For example, five or fewer drinks for the week,” says Aaptiv trainer Jessica Muenster. “If I have a night out and drink five drinks, then I get no wine at home, etc. Or, I could have wine at home for five nights if that’s better for my schedule. But I couldn’t have wine three nights at home and go out for heavy drinks with friends, etc.” It’s all about balance to lose weight without giving up alcohol.
Know your portion sizes.
In order to make it work with alcohol and weight loss, you need to make sure that you aren’t going overboard with how much you’re drinking. “So many people think a nine-ounce pour of wine is normal, but that’s actually 1.5x the amount [that] you should have in a glass,” says Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD. “Stick to a smaller five-ounce pour or a 12-pings beer bottle. Just like food, drink portion size matters.”
Go drink for drink with water.
If you are going to drink, it’s important to stay hydrated. “Go drink for drink with water,” says Rizzo. “After every sip of alcohol, have a sip of water. It will keep you hydrated and fill you up. That makes you less likely to have a second glass.” Plus, this will prevent any hangovers in the morning, which helps ensure that you’ll keep up with your regular diet and exercise routine the following day.
Choose low-calorie drinks.
Not all drinks are created equal, so you need to be cautious about what type of drinks you’re consuming when trying to lose weight without giving up alcohol. “The ones that are blended and full of juices are extremely high in calories,” says McFaden. Instead, ask for a mixed drink with soda water and flavor it with lime. Additionally, stick to lighter beers, which tend to have half the calories.
Unfortunately, we can’t have it all. If you’re having a drink one night, skip dessert. “When trying to lose weight, you’ve got to make some sacrifices,” says Rizzo. “If you really want a drink, skip the calories from dessert.”
Savor the taste.
Instead of taking a shot or chugging a beer, savor your drink. “If you’re on a weight loss plan, drinking to get drunk can really derail your plans,” says Rizzo. “Instead, drink because you enjoy the taste. Savor every sip and be mindful of how much you enjoy the taste. If you’re going to indulge, you might as well enjoy it.”
Although drinking in excess is never good, alcohol and weight loss can mesh. With some careful planning, you can still enjoy a cocktail here and there without sabotaging your fitness goals.