This blog is written for people embarking on a period of moderation with alcohol, and may be uncomfortable reading for some of us who have committed to complete abstinence.
Here are some practical steps to help you reduce your alcohol intake, with the goal of losing weight. These will especially help if you’ve been a bit lax during this period of COVID-19 restrictions. The goal isn’t necessarily to commit to abstaining but to help you find a healthier balance in your diet and life – which is what we aim to do at Hello Sunday Morning.
- Understand the compounding factors of alcohol that lead to weight gain.
The first thing to do is to understand the process, and why drinking alcohol can lead to a cycle of weight-gaining behaviours. As mentioned in a previous guest blog by Vickie Helson:
- Drinking alcohol has limited nutritional value – it’s basically just empty calories. Remember – ¾ of a bottle of wine has the same calories as a Big Mac
- Once you start drinking, you’ll have relaxed inhibitions. Which means at the end of the night you’ll be more likely to binge on junk food too! (so, Big Mac on top of virtual Big Mac!)
- Due to a heavy mix of junk food and alcohol from last night, you’ll be in no shape to head to the gym the next morning.
- Now you’re guilty about the fact you skipped gym. To make yourself feel better, you’ll have another dose of unhealthy food (yet another Big Mac!).
As you can see, drinking alcohol can easily lead to a myriad of uncontrolled weight gain behaviours.
The important thing is to accept these things may eventually happen (unless you’re abstaining entirely), and so you need to prepare for them appropriately. For instance:
- Schedule some time the next morning to work out with a friend (who’ll hopefully have had a quieter night) and force them to pull you out of bed. Be prepared for a hell of a morning workout!
- Mark down your alcohol-inspired junk food binge as a ‘cheat meal’ and manage the rest of your food intake around that. Don’t wallow in guilt – that will just lead you further into vice!
Be creative with your strategies – think of ways that suit your lifestyle to address the problem points in the ‘quadruple strike’ of behaviours above.
- Choosing a drink
Now that you have a strategy for the night, what happens when you actually get to the bar?
Of course, we’d recommend you choose something non-alcoholic. There’s a growing list of alcohol-free alternatives which are low-calorie and taste and look like a grown-up drink, or you can always fall back on soft drinks, or even water. You’d be much less inclined to drop your guard, and you’ll be able to go about everything normally the next day.
However, if you want to try an alcoholic drink at some stage during the night, and you wanted to choose a drink that would help you lose the most weight, here are a couple of tips that could help:
- Mixers have a lot of sugar, which means they have a lot of calories. Stay away from sugary cocktails, and stick to simple drinks such as gin & tonics or vodka sodas.
- Make sure to request the diet version of the mixer (e.g. diet Coke).
- Stay away from shots (and that’s good advice, regardless of any weight-loss ambitions!).
- Most light beers have fewer calories than a can of Coke. Plus, the bloat in your belly might discourage you from drinking any more!
It’s important that whatever drink you pick, it’s something that you can enjoy for an extended period of time. Change your drinking pace and learn to be comfortable with the idea of sipping or having these drinks over a couple of hours.
There are a lot of benefits from this – you get to save money, savour your drink and still be able to get up the next day to participate in life!
- Make sure to have a proper meal.
It’s common for people to substitute meals with alcohol – thinking that the calories will somehow balance themselves out.
However, if you want to lose weight in a healthy way, make sure you have a proper, healthy meal before you start to consume alcohol. There are a few reasons why this is helpful:
- Feeling full makes you inclined to drink less.
- Eating healthy food before a night out will remind you of your goals in weight loss. It generates momentum in that area of your life and will help you continue keeping yourself in check.
- Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach is a bad idea generally. Without a food buffer, the alcohol passes quickly through to the bloodstream and can dim your resolve to drink moderately.
For those who want to keep their weight in check, these tips will go a long way in helping you to find a healthier relationship with alcohol.