Have you ever wondered if it’s possible to drink alcohol and still lose weight? Can you be healthy AND have your wine?!
Something I hear all the time from my friends is that their diets would be perfect if it wasn’t for the booze.
But over here in my neck of the woods, we don’t do perfect. My #AntiPerfectFitness philosophy means that we don’t do the whole all or nothing thing when it comes to both exercise and nutrition. No foods or drinks are ever off-limits, alcohol included!
Now, I am not saying we should use alcohol as a fat loss tool because it is NOT a fat loss tool. People don’t refer to drinking as consuming empty calories for no reason, and drinking a couple of glasses of wine every single night will NOT help us lose weight. If you don’t already drink, don’t start just because I’m writing a post about alcohol fitting into a moderate lifestyle. That would be silly!
What I am saying is that I do think it’s possible to keep wine in our diets and still achieve fat loss. We don’t need to completely eliminate it… #phew
However, just like any other food or drink that’s considered “not the best” by diet standards, the key is to choose your alcohol mindfully and be strategic about a few other related factors. Here’s how you can do that to stay in line with your nutrition and fat loss goals!
Disclaimer: If you are currently struggling with alcohol issues or are in recovery, if you find this to be a sensitive issue, or if you think that reading about this topic may result in a trigger effect, please skip the rest of this post. Everyone is different and knows how certain things affect their bodies and minds—it’s up to each of us to use our best judgment.
Hydrate Well and Often
Staying properly hydrated is important even if alcohol isn’t on the agenda! But if I know that I’ll be having a couple of drinks that day, I make sure to drink plenty of water, not only before and after I drink, but while I drink as well. Remembering to drink water at the bar or at a social event can be the tricky part, yes?
I recommend ordering or getting yourself a glass of H2O right off the bat, and then alternate between drinking water and the booze, whether it’s sip by sip or glass by glass. Doing this typically keeps me in check and helps me navigate the middle so it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. The hangover prevention doesn’t hurt either. 😉
Be Selective and Savor Each Sip
Be picky about what you are going to drink! For example, would you rather drink a few Bud Lights or a glass of homemade sangria? A drink made with artificial sour mix or a craft beer local to the town you’re in?
For some general guidelines, clear alcohol tends to be lower in calories than other drinks are, mixers like club soda have less sugar than mixers like tonic and juice, and of course we’ve all heard that red wine has its health benefits. 😉
But I think the most important thing is to make sure your drink is something you actually want and something that’s worth it to you. For my fellow wine lovers, choose a wine you actually like so you can savor it. Make it more about the experience of drinking it.
For another example, I don’t love plain vodka and soda drinks, so I’d rather drink LESS of something else that I actually enjoy than drink six vodka sodas and claim I’m being super healthy. I *love* cucumber cocktails, so if that’s what I’m in the mood for, I will typically order one cucumber margarita at the beginning of the night, and then switch to something else a little lower cal after that. I’d just rather have one so I don’t feel deprived and then switch to something else than force something I don’t enjoy as much because “they” say it’s better for you.
Do Some Carb Adjusting
One of the things I help my 1:1 clients do is figure out how to adjust their nutrition choices each day so that they can plan for their treats. For example, if I know I’m going to get an ice cream cone, I’ll maybe skip adding fat sources like cheese or avocado to my breakfast that morning.
Alcohol can be treated in the same way. If I know I’m going to go out for drinks, I’ll decrease the overall amount of carb/starch content I eat that day to leave some carb wiggle room for the booze. Then I up the protein and veggies! Or if I’m out to eat, I’ll skip the bread and dessert so that I can enjoy a drink and still keep my nutrition at the forefront of my mind.
Don’t Let Others Sway You
It can be really easy to get caught up with the social pressures that come with drinking. For example, if you go out with coworkers after work, everyone might be finishing up their drinks when you may only be halfway through yours. You may feel pressured to gulp down the rest to keep up with the rounds, but remember, slowing down is a big piece of the mindfulness equation… and that will help you remember to also drink your water! Nobody actually cares if you aren’t ready for a new drink when they are.
Also remember that it’s okay to leave some of your drink behind if you aren’t really digging it or if your friends are ready to move on to the next place. Thinking you have to finish every sip is a scarcity mindset!
Consider Whether You Eat With Abandon
For some people, drinking alcohol can result in an increased appetite. This is where it can get tricky when talking about fat loss, because if you are someone who feels unable to choose food mindfully after a couple of drinks in, you will end up consuming a lot more than had you chosen to forgo the drinks in the first place.
However, if you are someone who doesn’t end up overeating later, having a glass of wine (or your drink of choice) can actually serve as your mindful “cheat” when it comes to overall calorie consumption. It’s the same concept as recommending someone who says they can’t be around chocolate purposely eat a small piece of chocolate each afternoon… so they feel satisfied and don’t overdo it on the chocolate later. For example, sometimes I like to unwind with a glass of wine after dinner. Perfect, no, but sometimes it acts as the thing that satisfies me, prevents me from a whole lot of mindless nighttime eating, and prevents me from going crazy with wine on the weekends.
For my clients who are in fat loss mode and not maintenance, I do suggest they try to limit the booze to a couple of drinks during the week and a couple of drinks on the weekend.
Look, if I could drink 2-3 glasses of rose with my friends every single night, trust me, I’d be on board. I guess technically I CAN, but I choose NOT to because that doesn’t align with my bigger picture wants for both my physique and for my health. Or my finances.
I’m not going to lie to you and tell you I *always* stick to 1-2 glasses when I do choose to drink. There have been plenty of nights that I drink more than that for SURE. But on the occasions when I do end up having more than anticipated, it’s about not beating myself up and just moving right along with more water, more protein, more veggies, back to my regular habits.
As always, everything in moderation, through mindfulness and really getting in tune with your own body! And the beauty of all of this is that when you don’t allow nutrition to be so black and white, your next wine night is never too far off, unlike programs that have you counting down the days until wine is “allowed” again.
Readers, let’s chat! How do you incorporate alcohol into your lifestyle? Do you think it’s possible to drink alcohol and still lose weight?
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First off, thanks for including the disclaimer for readers to skip this post if it’s not good for them. There are lots of folks in recovery out there! I’ve been working on being more mindful of alcohol as a treat. Last night’s options were a beer or a chocolate milkshake with fancy burgers. Chocolate shake FTW! Another time I might go for the beer. It’s been good to remember that I don’t need both.