Does Alcohol Cause Weight Gain? Deciphering the Facts -HealthifyMe

You could do everything right to lose weight, but one small mistake can make it difficult for you to see the results you want. Alcohol consumption is one such factor. Even with perfect calorie control and exercise, alcoholic beverages can affect your weight.

Alcohol contains seven calories per gram, compared to four calories per gram for carbohydrates and nine calories per gram for fat. A large glass of white wine can have as many calories as a serving of ice cream, and a pint of beer can be the same as a chocolate bar.

So you may be subconsciously consuming “empty” calories, which is not good for your weight. When it comes to alcohol consumption, however, there are many things to consider, not just calories. Read on to learn more about the many links between alcohol and weight gain.

How Does Alcohol Affect Your Weight?

Several factors, including what you drink, how often you drink, and how much alcohol you drink, can affect the effect of alcohol on your weight. However, other factors that affect your overall health and well-being, such as your diet, genetics, gender, physical activity and age, also play a role.

A studies has shown that alcohol can be a risk factor for obesity for some individuals, especially when consumed in large amounts. However, alcohol can cause many problems other than potential weight gain if consumed in excess.

For example, it can affect your circadian rhythm and cortisol levels. Disruption of the circadian rhythm means a disturbed sleep pattern that leads to hormonal imbalance that can cause excessive hunger, stress or a slow metabolism, all of which translate to weight gain.

There are many reasons why alcohol leads to weight gain, some of which are as follows:

High calories

Alcoholic drinks contain a lot of calories. For most forms of alcohol, two drinks are about 250 to 300 calories. That’s about 12% of the daily recommended calorie intake for men or about 15% of the daily recommended calorie intake for women. In addition, the additives and mixers added to many alcoholic beverages contain extra calories, carbohydrates and sugar.

The calories from alcohol are empty calories, meaning they have no nutritional value. That’s why alcoholic drinks provide your body with a lot of hidden calories, with almost no nutrients to back it up.

Affects organs and hormones

Your liver acts as a filter for all substances entering your body and helps metabolize fats, proteins and carbohydrates. However, drinking too much alcohol can lead to fatty liver disease, which affects the way your body metabolizes fats and carbohydrates and makes it more difficult to lose weight.

Hormones are essential for your body to function properly, and drinking alcohol can sometimes impair the functions of some hormones.

For example, cortisol is associated with weight gain because it stimulates hunger and affects metabolism. Alcohol can cause increased cortisol secretion in the body and imbalances in other reproductive hormones such as estrogen and testosterone, which also play a role in muscle building, fat storage and metabolism. These hormonal imbalances can make it easier for a person to gain weight from alcohol consumption.

Reduces sleep quality

While alcohol can help some people fall asleep, it can also cause insomnia. Consuming too much liquor can disrupt your sleep. A good night’s sleep is essential to maintain a healthy weight. If you don’t get enough sleep, you’re more likely to eat unhealthy foods, which can cause hormonal imbalance and weight gain.

Increases hunger

Alcohol is more likely to make you reach for something to eat because it can lead to low blood sugar, leading to cravings, especially for carbohydrate-rich foods.

Plus, alcohol tends to affect a part of the brain that controls appetite, leading to even more cravings, especially the day after. So alcohol-induced hunger leads you to eat more, which means more calories and therefore weight gain.

Used as a primary fuel source

Your body will prioritize processing alcohol over other substances, which can inhibit fat burning and cause excess lipids and carbohydrates to be stored as fat, mostly in the abdomen.

The HealthifyMe note

Alcohol can hinder your weight loss journey in several ways and can cause you to gain weight. It is high in calories and affects your hormones, making you more hungry. Moreover, it also leads to other health problems, affecting your overall health.

Can you still drink alcohol?

You can still enjoy drinking by keeping the following tips in mind.

  • Keep an eye on your portion size
  • No added high-calorie mixers
  • Control your calorie intake
  • Hydrate yourself
  • Avoid drinking late at night


It is best to avoid alcohol consumption as it is harmful in several ways. If you do drink, it’s best to take precautions. Hydrate yourself between drinks, track when and how much you drink and what mixers and foods you pair your drinks with, and understand the healthier choice.

Those who are dieting for weight loss should choose lower calorie alcoholic beverages. If you want to reduce your alcohol consumption, try alternating each alcoholic drink with a glass of water or a low-calorie drink.

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