Alcohol is a large part of the Australian culture being a large social aspect in our society. In Australia, 77% of people aged 14 and over had reported drinking at least one standard drink in the past year (1). However excessive alcohol consumption generates many social and health problems.
Several studies show a link between alcohol consumption and weight gain which is why moderating and monitoring how much you drink is an important factor to consider when trying to lose or maintain weight.
The recommendations around alcohol consumption in Australia provided by the NHMRC is that to reduce risk of harm from alcohol, both men and women should drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week or no more than 4 standard drinks in a day (2).
When considering the factors that affect weight loss there are a few things to consider about how the consumption of alcohol impacts our body.
High in calories (kilojoules)
Alcohol is energy dense as in each gram of alcohol, there is approximately 29kJ or 7kcal which is almost as many kJ’s found in fat (37kJ) (3). Alcohol is essentially ‘empty calories’ adding little to no nutritional benefit in our diet. Kilojoules consumed from alcohol is often in addition to energy obtained from other dietary sources rather than a substitute for this energy which may promote a positive energy balance (3).
Stops body from burning fat
Alcohol is an easy and accessible energy source, and our body tries to metabolise it first and as quickly as it can which can inhibit or halter fat loss4. The body therefore stores energy from food consumed whilst your body breaks down alcohol as a priority as it is perceived essentially as a poison (4).
It can make you hungrier
Alcohol has an impact on our food satiety signalling which is our body telling us that we are feeling full. Therefore, alcohol impacts our ability to reach satiety and subsequently results in increased food intake particularly of high-fat food which can consequently result in overeating (5).
Can lead to poor food choices
Alcohol can alter and stimulate both our liking and wanting of certain foods particularly unhealthy foods which excessive consumption can have impacts on weight gain due to foods usually being high-fat, high calorie and highly processed (5).
Alcohol consumption has the potential to affect weight management and so it is important to consider alcohol intake for not only weight loss but for maintaining an overall healthy diet and lifestyle. Consider how much alcohol you are currently consuming and consider abstaining from alcohol through your weight loss journey to maximise your results and feel your best.
If you want to consume the occasional alcoholic drink, consider opting for a lower calorie option such as vodka with soda water or a seltzer. There is also an increasing market for non-alcoholic alternatives which can often be lower in carbs and calories, so you can enjoy your favourite drink without feeling like you’re missing out.
At Be Fit Food we want you to enjoy your weight loss experience and so finding balance and moderation is important. Be sure to speak to one of our dietitians for more advice on what is the best approach for you!
- AIHW, 2022. Alcohol, tobacco & other drugs in Australia, Alcohol - Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. [online] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Available at: <https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/alcohol/alcohol-tobacco-other-drugs-australia/contents/drug-types/alcohol>
- NHMRC, 2022. Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol. [online] NHMRC. Available at: <https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/health-advice/alcohol>
- Chao, A., Wadden, T., Tronieri, J. and Berkowitz, R., 2018. Alcohol Intake and Weight Loss During Intensive Lifestyle Intervention for Adults with Overweight or Obesity and Diabetes. Obesity, 27(1), pp.30-40.
- Liangpunsakul, S., Crabb, D. and Qi, R., 2010. Relationship Among Alcohol Intake, Body Fat, and Physical Activity: A Population-Based Study. Annals of Epidemiology, 20(9), pp.670-675.
- Schrieks, I., Stafleu, A., Griffioen-Roose, S., de Graaf, C., Witkamp, R., Boerrigter-Rijneveld, R. and Hendriks, H., 2015. Moderate alcohol consumption stimulates food intake and food reward of savoury foods. Appetite, 89, pp.77-83.