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Weight gain

Cutting down on alcohol is an easy way to cut calories, without even changing your diet.

Regularly drinking more than the low-risk guidelines can affect your weight over time. It can also affect your general health.

Being overweight and obesity are linked to conditions like:

  • diabetes
  • heart problems
  • circulation problems
  • stroke
  • cancer
  • depression

If you stop drinking you will have more free time. If you use this time to do something active, you'll lose even more weight.

Why alcohol causes weight gain

Alcohol has almost the same calories per gram as pure fat. But alcohol calories are empty calories. Alcohol isn’t nutritious like food, so the calories in alcohol don’t make you feel full up like food calories.

As well as the calories in alcohol, drinking also makes us more likely to overeat. Most of us have experienced this. The visit to the chip shop after a night out or the nibbles to go with our glass of wine or beer. Alcohol triggers the part of the brain that makes us feel hungry.

Alcohol reduces your inhibitions. You’re less likely to worry about picking the unhealthy options when you’ve been drinking.

The liver focuses on getting rid of any alcohol in your bloodstream, because it can’t be stored. This means the liver may not control blood sugar levels properly. It may not release enough glucose into the bloodstream. This makes you feel hungry.

If you have a pint of beer or a big glass of wine most evenings, you will be taking in around 1,000 extra calories a week. In a year, that could be an extra stone in weight.

Amount of calories in alcohol drinks

  • 1 pint of 4% strength beer = 182 calories
  • 1 large gin and tonic = 390 calories
  • 1 large glass of wine = 185 calories
  • 1/2 a bottle of prosecco = 350 calories
  • 1 Long Island ice tea = 275 calories

page last reviewed: 08/11/2019
next review due: 08/11/2022

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