Will Drinking Alcohol Make Me Gain Weight?


Many dieters cringe at the thought of giving up a Saturday night beer or margarita and thus many avoid asking out loud the question that is running through their mind: Will drinking make me gain weight? Do I have to totally give up alcohol to get in shape?

If you find yourself in the abovementioned category then much to your relief (or maybe chagrin) the answer to your question is similar to many other diet-related queries: everything in moderation.

Before we get into the specifics of alcohol consumption and weight gain, please note the following disclaimer: we will primarily be discussing alcohol consumption vis a vis weight management and are therefore not advocating for or against drinking, although it is true that alcohol generally does not have nutritional value (but then again neither is a piece of chocolate cake).

That being said, the truth about alcohol consumption is that in terms of weight management it isn’t any different than any other excess calories like juices, desserts, or carbs. If you limit your alcohol intake, you won’t gain weight from drinking. If you drink sugary cocktails and then eat cheeseburgers, you will gain weight. If you binge drink on a regular basis you will gain weight. If you drink to excess and cannot get the exercise you need, you will gain weight. From a caloric vantage point, alcohol can only make you gain as much weight as any other category of excess calories.  If you regulate your drinking and keep it to a minimum (and combine this practice with a healthy diet and exercise) then you can enjoy your Saturday night beer or margarita with little guilt.

If you do enjoy drinking alcohol, then you need to make sure that you manage your drinking. This applies beyond weight management; whether or not you approve or disapprove of alcohol consumptions, almost nobody would agree that binge drinking/ heavy drinking is healthy for you. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (USA), light to moderate drinking is characterized as being no more than 14 drinks per week for men and 7 drinks per week for women. This should give you a good barometer to measure your diet drinking by.

Everything in moderation. Time and again this theme comes up in health issues, especially related to diet and exercise (however never apply this saying to smoking—there is never a time for moderate smoking!). Life should be enjoyable—some people love cake, others love beer, and yet others love potato chips. Unless you have a medical condition that prevents you from enjoying any things mentioned above, it is ok to indulge once in awhile. Just make sure that you don’t stray too far down the road to overindulgence.

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