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Does alcohol interfere with weight loss?

weight loss Mar 02, 2022

Does alcohol interfere with weight loss?

We commonly get asked, “Can alcohol fit into a low carb lifestyle?”

Yes! It can, there are lots of low carb alcohol options that will not increase your insulin (our fat storage hormone) and can fit in with a low carb lifestyle. We list some good low carb options below.

However, there are some important things we should all understand about alcohol if we choose to use it.


Things to consider regarding alcohol and weight loss

Regular alcohol is an easy habit to slide into. For many people, alcohol can be used as a comforter, much the same way as people use food in emotional eating. We use it as a social lubricant, a way to relax, a way to socialise, and sometimes our alcohol use can be problematic.

When we drink alcohol, it is rapidly absorbed into our bloodstream, and enters every single cell of our body. There is no escaping the fact that alcohol also inflicts damage on every cell in our body. If our alcohol intake remains low and infrequent, then we can usually completely recover from its damaging effects. However, if alcohol consumption creeps up and becomes heavy and/or frequent, then our body may not be able to recover from its damaging effects.

Regular alcohol can inflict harm to all our organ systems, but the three organ systems that are generally damaged the most are our brains, peripheral nervous system (nerves throughout our body), and liver.

Our brains and nervous system are particularly vulnerable to damage from alcohol because they are slow-growing and slow-repairing cells. They have much less ability to bounce back from repeated alcohol damage than other parts of our bodies. Our liver is at risk because it is the liver that does nearly all the hard work in breaking down and eliminating the harmful metabolites of alcohol.


How can alcohol affect weight loss?

Alcohol consumption can also slow down our weight loss (it is a fuel without nutrition that our body will burn before it will burn our fat stores). It can negatively affect our mood and alcohol is also damaging to our natural sleep architecture. We do not get a normal and healthful night's sleep when under the effects of alcohol.

Having said all that, the odd (low carb) alcoholic beverage is unlikely to cause major health issues.


Who should avoid alcohol?

There are a few people for whom avoiding alcohol might be best. We would recommend you avoid alcohol if:

  • You are at a frustrating weight stall – it really could be the alcohol that is stopping you from losing weight. It is a fuel source with no nutrition.
  • You have any kind of liver disease or liver impairment – alcohol will make it worse (and our livers are extremely important!).
  • You have any issues with alcohol dependency. This includes someone who might have trouble stopping at just one or two.
  • If you are pregnant or want to become pregnant.


Our recommendations for alcohol and weight loss

Our take on alcohol:

It is totally up to you! But generally, drinking as little as possible will benefit your health. A few glasses with friends now and again can be fine, as long as you don’t fall into the above four categories. And remember, having a break from alcohol (think Dry July, Feb Fast, etc.) is a great thing to do for your health.


Low Carb Alcohol Choices

Dry White Wine or Dry Red Wine – 2g carbs per standard drink.

Examples of Dry Wines:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Pinot Noir
  • Chardonnay
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Chablis
  • Zinfandel

Champagne – 1g carbs per standard drink.

Spirits – 0g carbs when drunk straight or with water.

Examples of Low Carb Spirits:

  • Rum
  • Tequila
  • Vodka
  • Gin
  • Whiskey (Bourbon, Rye, Scotch)
  • Cognac and Brandy

Acceptable Low Carb Mixers:

  • Diet Soda (don’t drink this often – artificial sweeteners aren't the best)
  • Diet Tonic
  • Club Soda or Soda Water


  • Zero Carb Beer – like Burleigh Big Head (available in Australia)

All other alcohol choices are best avoided, in particular normal beer. Standard beer is very high in carbohydrates.


The final word on alcohol and weight loss 

If you choose to include alcohol in your low carb lifestyle, do so with wisdom and knowledge. It is also great to explore the wonderful world of non-alcoholic drinks and non-alcoholic socialising.



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