Will I have to give up alcohol to lose weight?

The great news is that many members told us that since joining Slimming World and learning about Food Optimising, their drinking habits have changed, without missing out on the party! Here we outline how alcohol can impact on our weight and the strategies our members use to make sure they can still enjoy a tipple or two and continue to lose weight. 

How can alcohol impact on my weight

A study by Slimming World has found that when drinking alcohol, most of us have a tipping point after which we go on to eat and drink much more than we intended – leading to us consume 6,300 extra calories in food and alcohol over the next two days.

The average tipping point occurs at 9.3 units of alcohol. It sounds quite high, however it's equivalent to 3.7 pints of beer or 3.1 large glasses of wine – easy to reach! As well as the additional 6,300 calories, the following day half of us also cancel physical activity in favour of watching TV, staying in bed or spending time on social media.

Slimming World members who took part in the survey, told us:

  • You can still enjoy a drink and lose weight – 86% of Slimming World members enjoy alcohol in moderation and lose weight steadily.

  • You can learn ways to cut down your alcohol consumption without missing out on the party – 92% of Slimming World members learn simple strategies to moderate how much alcohol they consume.

  • You can learn how to make healthier food choices when you've been drinking – 88% of Slimming World members learn how to make healthier food choices after drinking alcohol.

How to manage the impact of alcohol on your weight

Slimming World's study has shown that alcohol can have a major impact on our weight, and on our weight loss. When drinking, most of us have a tipping point and, because alcohol weakens our inhibitions, we then go on to eat and drink much more than we intended. In addition to the calories in alcohol – which stack up quickly – and the fact that it has no filling power, the choices we make after our tipping point aren't the healthy ones we would otherwise go for. And the scientific evidence shows that drinking alcohol stimulates our appetite. So, the more we drink, the more we're compelled to eat.

So what steps can you take to call time on the impact alcohol could be having on your weight?

Discover your own tipping point…

The average tipping point is 9.3 units – that's just over 3 glasses of wine and just under 4 pints of beer. 

Fast fact: We all know that alcohol contains calories – but it's surprising just how many! Plus alcohol doesn't have any filling power and stimulates our appetite – a triple blow for our weight! Our research shows that 83% of people either underestimate or don't know how many calories are in wine and 72% either don't know or underestimate the number of calories in beer. 

Fill up first

Our members tell us that enjoying a filling Food Optimising meal before going out helps them stave off hunger and avoid those late night (unplanned) trips to the chippy! And when eating out, simple strategies help them stay on track too:

  • taking a look at the menu online beforehand

  • choosing the healthiest options (like steak and jacket potato, or pasta in a tomato sauce)

  • asking the kitchen for sauce on the side/no butter etc

  • asking for boiled potatoes, jacket potatoes or steamed rice instead of high–fat options like mash, chips and egg fried rice.

Reduce your alcohol intake

If you're looking to reduce your alcohol intake and manage your weight there are lots of practical techniques you can try. Planning ahead is key, so whether you're out and about or having a drink at home, set yourself a limit and stick to it.

Nights out with friends and family can be a particular challenge when you're trying to reduce your alcohol intake and eat healthily as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. A good technique is to kick your night off with a pint of water before you start drinking and alternate alcoholic drinks with soft drinks or water; this will keep you hydrated and reduce the amount of alcohol you consume. It can also be beneficial to opt out of rounds so that you drink at your own pace – ideally aiming to drink more slowly than normal.

If you're drinking at home then be sure to measure your drinks as free-poured drinks tend to be much larger than you think. You can also try having smaller measures overall by picking bottled beers over pints, small glasses of wine over large and single measures of spirits with diet mixers instead of doubles or free-poured measures.

last updated: June 17, 2019