Rethinking Drinking: Alcohol and Managing Your Weight

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You might be doing just the right things when it comes to healthy eating: paying attention to your hunger signals and triggers, eating healthy foods, and controlling portions. If you're still struggling at the scale, alcohol might be the reason.

A few glasses of wine or a creamy cocktail at a party can have the same calories as a slice of cake, a milkshake, or even a fast-food burger. If you're trying to maintain your weight or even lose some, it might be worth rethinking your drinking. Here are some tips to help you decide how alcohol may fit in with your weight management plan.

  • Know how many calories are in a standard drink.

    For example:

    • One mixed drink containing 1.5 fl oz of 80-proof hard liquor, such as a martini, has 124 calories. A frozen margarita has 500.
    • One 5 fl oz glass of white or red wine has 121 to 125 calories. Sparkling wine has 84.
    • One 12 fl oz bottle of regular beer has 153 calories. A light beer has 103, and a craft beer has 200 or more calories.
  • Think about your weight-management goal.

    Maybe you want to lose a few pounds, or to keep your weight the same. How did your journey start, and where are you now? Can you still see where you want to be?

    Reconnecting with that vision, and your goal, might help you decide if there are things you want to do differently when it comes to drinking. For example:

    • You could take a break from alcohol for a week, just to see how it feels—and to see if it has an impact on your weight.
    • Maybe you could try ordering a light beer instead of a craft beer. Or you could swap those "happy hour" calories for something else instead.
    • Maybe you could skip your morning mocha because you know you're going out with friends after work for drinks. Or you could skip the alcohol altogether and order a sparkling water instead.

    Write down your ideas. Come up with one or two small steps that will get you a little closer to your long-term weight goal. Pick something that appeals to you. Start small, and think about when you can start.

    You might end up making some different decisions about what you drink, or if you drink at all.


Current as of: September 20, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

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