Can Alcohol Cause Weight Gain?

Alcohol contains a great many calories and can make you gain weight. If you simply add drink after drink to your diet, without substituting for other calorie-laden beverages, as the scale dictates, you will gain weight. Counterproductively, alcohol can temporarily erase all discipline and make your passionately declared goals of weight loss seem like a distant memory. Such disinhibition can make you overeat, hence the fact that many diets advise against heavy drinking.

According to Berkeley Wellness, research on alcohol and weight has produced scattered findings. The stats show that drinkers are no more likely to be obese than those who abstain completely. There are several variables involved, including the amount of alcohol consumed, the type, the timing, setting, and drinking pattern.

One gram of pure alcohol provides almost twice as many calories as a gram of carbohydrates or protein; however, alcohol calories may be different in that they are burned less efficiently. This means that calories from alcohol could be a bit less fattening than carb or fat calories.

Gender may be a factor in how alcohol affects your weight. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared the food and calorie intake of 1,864 people on days when they did and days when they didn’t drink alcohol. On their drinking day, the men ate 433 extra calories, most of which were from meats and other foods containing more protein, fat, and sodium than normal; 363 of those calories came from alcoholic beverages.

Women consumed an extra 299 calories on their drinking day, while most of that number came from alcoholic beverages. The women did not eat significantly more food on their drinking day compared to their non-drinking day; however the food they did eat was less healthy. While the study did not evaluate effects on long term weight change, it certainly highlighted the nutritional and caloric dangers of what some might call “booze.”


Make sure to consult your primary care physician or chiropractor for all health related advice.

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