Food & Nutrition

The ultimate guide to drinking alcohol while losing weight

You can enjoy alcohol without putting your health goals on hold. Here’s how.
Let’s face it, hangovers are not only no fun, they’re unhealthy. To help navigate your next celebration, here are the main things to remember when it comes to alcohol. These will help you rethink how (and what) you drink, so you can still enjoy a few.

 

FACT: Alcoholic drinks contain empty calories


By "empty" we mean they provide plenty of fuel or energy without many, or any, essential nutrients to go with them. So you get a lot of bang (calories) without the benefits (no positive impact on your hunger or your health). 

It’s smart to drink no more than two standard drinks a day, or four on a single occasion, and aim for two alcohol-free days a week. (The average glass of beer or wine has 4-5 SmartPoints.) To stay hydrated, drink a glass of water between every alcoholic drink. And because we tend to pour 30% more alcohol into short, squat glasses, choose a tall, thin one. (Who knew?) 

Plan ahead and set a "booze Budget" using any Weeklies and rollovers you have. 

FACT: After a few drinks, food seems more attractive


It’s not just a theory--scientists found that drinking alcohol influences how the brain responds to food aromas increasing your food intake. It’s an effect that can turn enjoying a drink into a double whammy because not only are you spending SmartPoints on alcohol, you might also be using extra ones on food. 

Eat a snack before you have your first drink, and stock your party with ZeroPoint™ foods to help keep hunger at bay. 

FACT: Not all drinks are created equal


Some drinks will have less impact on your health and wellness goals than others. For example, the creamy cocktail that looks so enticing? It might contain as many as 1,000 calories, which is four times as many as a glass of wine! And beware of drinks, particularly beers, marketed as being better for your belly purely because they’re "low carb." In fact, there’s little, if any, difference between the calories in a low-carb beer and a regular one. That’s because it’s the calories in alcohol that make up the biggest chunk of the overall calorie count. So an alcohol-reduced beer or wine will have a greater effect on your waistline than the carb-reduced varieties.

Careful of extra SmartPoints in the form of things like cream and sweet mixers. Go for lemon and lime wedges instead. 

FACT: Alcohol affects you faster if you drink it on an empty stomach


Without food in your stomach to slow down the rate at which alcohol passes into your bloodstream, it only takes a few minutes after you take the first sip for the alcohol to reach your brain. It means you’ll hit a higher blood alcohol level sooner than someone who’s eaten a meal, and when that happens it can be harder to judge how many drinks are too many.