Is Alcohol Making Me Fat?

By Jim F

i-bf74c5eb47ea159e53aa7e579a4fe906-beer.jpgWhat effect does alcohol have on both fat loss or weight maintenance?

While there are general rules, you can always find an exception.I know one person who has two alcoholic drinks per day – and yet has lost 15% of their body weight – virtually all fat. At the same time they have experienced strength increases (from intense weight training).

Some diet plans encourage wine consumption (Sonoma Diet) others will allow it (South Beach Diet), while others completely restrict any alcohol.

The Truth?

Like many other issues in nutrition – there are no hard and fast rules – it is up to you to see what works for you. However – it is worth taking into account the following points.

  • Many alcoholic drinks are empty calories. They provide little nutritional value.
  • While the liver is busy metabolizing alcohol, it is unable to metabolize fat.

Alcohol Calories

  • 1 can of beer (average): 153 Calories
  • 1 glass of wine (average): 124 Calories
  • Pre-mixed drinks (such as Smirnoff Vodka Twist): 216 Calories per 100 mls.

It is clear that Calories can mount up and must be factored into your daily food intake.

What About the Beer Belly?

Start researching the relationship between beer and fat gain and you will find complete contradictions. Some claim that people who are regular beer drinkers typically also have a poor diet and are sedentary, and are therefore prone to weight gain.

Arthur Agatston – in his book The South Beach Diet – squarely blamed the maltose content in beer for causing the beer belly. He later backtracked after criticism about such claims. An intriguing research paper into the carbohydrate content of beer can be found here (PDF – note that this appeared in a journal about brewing.)

The BBC have also claimed the beer belly is a myth – citing Czech research showing no link between a large abdomen and beer drinking habits.

Anecdotes

Despite the research, I have never seen a regular beer drinker who is in peak physical condition. I have also seen a number of ‘skinny-fat’ beer drinkers – men who have little muscle mass, and generally appear low in body fat — except for a large amount of abdominal fat (visceral or otherwise).

Alcohol is a personal choice. If you are trying to change your physical condition but are not getting results – then it’s worth assessing alcoholic intake. Alcohol has many effects on the body, and you will need help with alcoholism if you think you’ve been drinking too much of it.

81 Comments

  1. Aaron

    Alcohol (whatever the molecule it is made up of) is not treated as a nutrient by the liver. It treats it as a poison more or less. It does what it knows to do with these foreign substances. It wraps it up in a fat cell, and stores it. That is why you gain fat from drinking.

    Reply
  2. Dave

    I enjoy drinking beer wine and spirits a lot I have a spare tyre around my mid section that has to go I have started diet and exercise but would like to have a few drinks most nights is there any alcoholic beverage i can drink while trying to loose weight I hear vodka soda water and fresh lime is ok to drink if so how many a day can I get away with drinking

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer

      Why not just have a few drinks on the weekends? If you like to have a few every night, it may indicate a dependency, which will always be counterproductive in losing weight. Here’s a list of low calorie choices.

      Reply
  3. Steven

    There is just a huge misconception about alcohol and how it makes you fat. Sure, alcohol has calories but that’s not really what makes you fat. When you drink alcohol, your liver converts it into acetate which is a poison. Your body then goes to work ridding itself of the poison and thus no longer works on burning fat. So, it’s not so much the calories that alcohol has its that your body completely shuts off fat-burning for up to three days after drinking. Anything you put in your body gets stored while the poison is being cleared. Not to mention drinking lowers testosteron significantly in men, stunting any muscle gains or fat burning.

    Alcohol is a barbituate and doesn’t really have any proven health benefits. Some have said that a glass of wine or two a day has lots of antioxidants, sure but you could get more by eating a cup of organic blueberries. Bottom line is people like to drink to get f’d up – that’s it.

    Reply
    • Victora Torres

      I have a very odd question and situation. I have a flat tummy…2 nights ago I had a terrible day work I consumed a WHOLE large bottle of Stanta Marina pinot white wine….Next day I had a belly pouch of fat!!! Can this be possible??

      Reply
  4. gom gom

    i agree, when i first started excercise i drank like 3 nights a week and i managed to lose 82 lbs ( 11 months ) but i did work out 5 days a week , i think if ur metabolism is high nothing can really stop u but since i stop working out , i didn’t drink as well but have been eatting and not excercising i gained 20lbs… lol so i’m starting to excercise again and those lbs r going down fast! i honestly think it’s all about ur metabolism and how much calorie u burn each day , if u work out! and work ur butt off u deserve a lil treat! just make sure it doesn’t ruin all the hard work .. beer or whatever type of alcohol r all diobolical anyways so..drink in moderation is the key!

    Reply
  5. dhearty

    My wife had suggested a 500 calorie diet to me for a 24 days. I lost 36 pounds. Its not just by eating 500 calories though, I had to take these shots so if you hear about this diet don’t eat just 500 calories per day. A doctor has to see you first. I drink and was told I couldn’t. I read online and found the answer to my prayers. Is you drink a shot of vodka, it’s only 60 calories and if you combine it with a artificial sweetner it will leave your body faster so your body returns to the focus of fat burning. I drank vodka with sweet and low a couple nights a week. Didn’t effect the diet at all and it made it bearable. Look up the diet, sounds unhealthy, but it’s a great way to lose fat fast.

    Reply
    • Diane

      Ewww and ewww. Artificial sweeteners are full of carcinogenics.

      Reply
  6. Doug

    The 100lbs male will be drunk faster amd their blood alcohol level will be higher. Also a 100lbs female will have a higher blood alcohol level than a 100lb male.

    Reply
  7. PORKY

    oops sorry Vlad…didnt mean to reply that to you!! oops lol

    Reply
  8. PORKY

    oh sorry one more thing…the weight i gained has only been about 15lbs…and seriously i think that 15lbs went straight to my stomach…so im about 150% sure that it is from the beer, and the food with that beer!!!

    Reply
  9. PORKY

    wow all these comments really helped me out! i was so upset when i started gaining weight from drinking! i recently lossed 70lbs, i was looking really good, and now because of drinking, its all going straight to my belly and thighs! and like you guys said, that late night rampage on the food because of the alcohol does not help at all!in the morning, i remember how i ate the night before and it grosses me out, and makes me angry because i know i wasnt even hungry! i really want to quit drinking so much, but whenever i have a stressful day at work, that is what i rely on to relieve some of that stress! im going to try really hard to quit though….i dont want to go back to being MISS PORKY!!! i am only 21years old, so a beer belly does not look very cute on a young girl!

    Reply
  10. Vlad

    it does make you happy and hip

    Reply
  11. vlad

    saying whatever to that is just beyond me… thats the point of the whole article. I’m no expert, but from all my reading aloohol, while it may be a form of carbs does not mix with the rest and is the first one to be used, second come regular carbs and only third comes fat, meaning its gonna be a long time digestin’ before any fat gets burned, and guess what happens with the excess, it goes right to your hips!

    Reply
  12. Amy L

    am so tired of beer commercials and how they throw their party ads in our faces like it will make us happy and hip YUK

    Reply
  13. AMIRJOSO

    WHATEVER

    Reply
  14. Alcina

    I am a heavy drinker……i will drink atleast 2 times a week.. 5 glasses each time. But i also go jogging atleast 3 times a week…. atleast 30 minutes each time.I am losing weight like crazy.

    It is not the beer that makes you fat. It is your eating habit and living style that makes you fat. Beer has no more direct relationship with weight gaining than drinking milk. Just do more sport and stay active and you will be fine.

    Keep Drinking. Cheers!!

    Reply
    • Chrati

      Maybe for you but your 2 nights a week drinking is nothing compared to people who drink 5 or 6 every night.. it never affected me either until I got to be a heavier drinker. I have gained 35 lbs and have exercised and eaten healthier than ever before… I blame it on bourbon. Everyone’s body is different though. On my first night of no liquor since about a year ago. Wish me luck this week!!

      Reply
  15. maxindian

    I am a bodybuilder and I have kind of mastered art of loosing and gaining weight.

    I want to share some knowledge with you guys.

    I reply to posters question, i want to answer some questions posted above.

    QUESTION:
    After a night of drinking, should i exercise or how shall I exercise? Should I wait or increase my next day workout?
    ANSWER:
    Each ounce of alcohol takes about 1 hour to dissolve by your lever, so if you have drunk about 4 mild beers or 4 oz whiskey or 2 glass of wine, i don’t see any reason why you should not do exercise next morning. If you keep 8 hours gap between alcohol consumption, you will be ready for exercise next morning unless you are feeling hangover or headaches. Make sure you drink plenty of water before you go to gym for exercise. I suggest doing cardio with full strength for greater calories loss next morning.

    However, if you are serious lifter, remember alcohol will definitely effect your lifting ability. Hence for serious bodybuilders or people who are trying to loose weight or gain muscle, they MUST OVOID ALCOHOL INTAKE.

    QUESTION: Should I avoid certain food?
    ANSWER: Its a fact that when you drink alcohol, you eat more. Alcohol is acid and its indeed good that you eat some food with alcohol. You may ovoid high calories food like potato chips, nuts, cheese biscuit etc. and eat more of meet products which are high in protein.

    QUESTION: Should I increase certain foods before or after drinking?
    ANSWER: NO. you should not eat more because you are drinking, its not necessary to eat any kind of food after you drink but generally alcohol increase your apatite and you eat more thus become more fat. Make sure to eat very low with alcohol.

    QUESTION: Does beer makes you FAT?
    ANSWER: YES IT DOES. Beer contains more calories then wine or whiskey, vodka etc., because its made from grains and contains high sugar. Hence, 2 shots of whiskey or vodka are little less in calories then 2 bottles of mild beer. I am not saying, you should never drink beer, hell, i also drink beer some times but its the fact it contains more fats then any other alcohol, hence you must not drink if you are trying to loose fat or loose weight or trying to gain muscle. During maintenance face or for normal people, I say, if your eating is under control drinking 2-3 330ml mild beer 3 days a week should not do much harm.

    QUESTION: I am trying to loose weight, can i continue to drink alcohol?
    ANSWER: NO. If you are serious about loosing your weight and preparing for special event example, summer camp, your marriage, control health disease , ovoid diabetes, lower your cholesterol level, for god sake stop drinking for SOME TIME. Just imagine, how great you will look after loosing weight after voiding alcohol for some time, later when you have achieved your goal, celebrate it with glass of wine, beer or whatever you drink. But alcohol is BIG NO NO while you are trying to loose weight or gain muscle.

    QUESTION: Does eating low carb diet help reducing once weight or help in FAT LOSS?
    ANSWER: absolutely yes. If you want to loose fat or loose weight then you must reduce your carbohydrates intake. Your diet may contains 30% carbohydrates , 25% fat and 45% protein during fat loss / weight loss period. Make sure you do cardio for 30 minutes everyday with 30 minutes weight training and should workout like this at least 5 days a week. Works for me every time, should work for you as well.

    Reply
    • Aaron

      listen to this guy..

      Reply
    • Dylls

      You say “…i also drink beer some times but its the fact it contains more fats then any other alcohol”, but actually, the fact is, there is O grams of fat in beer. Read the label on a can of budwieser, just fyi, not trying to be a pain.

      Reply
  16. takeitorleaveit

    To have or not to have, that is the question? I personally like to have a few drinks now and then. It’s a great stress reducer! That being said, I think it can prolong your life. Stress is a big killer of mankind. Stress also can cause alot of physical symptoms, so to embibe in a few, I think is harmless and people shouldn’t get so worried about it.

    Reply
  17. Tammy

    I think this is the site that will help me and I would like to know if anyone out there can give me some advice? What are the bad carbs? What are the good carbs and where does alcohol fit into the picture? As I said earlier, one of the oldest men to live was well over a hundred and he drank a glass and a half of wine every day.

    Reply
  18. Tammy

    I would like to know what carbs you avoid in order to stay in good shape? Just beer alone?

    Reply
  19. Tammy

    I found this site very informative. I’d like to change a few things in my life and I think that being on this site will help me to get all the info I need. I now plan to cut down on beer starting this weekend and switch to wine for my recreational drinking. They say red wine is good for you. One of the oldest men to live, came from Sardinia and drank a glass and a half per day. He lived to be well over a hundred.

    Reply
  20. nonametomention

    Body fat is not used as a measure of health, it is used as a measure of risk to one’s health; which is based on statistical data collected over many research efforts.

    There are many obese and healthy adults. However, his or her risk rises as his or her girth.

    There are many unhealthy adults in normal weight ranges, they simply don’t have the higher risk.

    Reply
  21. nonametomention

    You truly have no idea what you are talking about do you? The un-educated are so easily spotted!

    Reply
  22. wineenthusiast

    This site has been very useful. I am a 28 year old woman, began drinking later than most- at about 24 yrs old. Scince then I have developed a real taste for excellent red wine. My weight has fluxuated over the years- up and down about 10 pounds. Interestingly enough I lost weight when I was drinking the most- likely due to an active job and watching what I ate, though I was suprised and took this as a ticket to more drinking.

    Over the 2 years I have gained about 20 pounds without driking more, or less wine. My eating hasn’t changed- if anything I am eating less.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that my body is telling me that I need to stop the wine drinking, at least cut down significantly, though this is a huge loss for me! If there were a way around it, believe me, I would find it.

    Any other wine enthusiast out there who have managed to lose weight? Is it even possibble to lose weight while drinking half to a full bottle of wine a day?

    Thanks so much

    Reply
    • geoff

      Stop drinking you sound like a potential if not already alcoholic. Google a bit about alcohol and scirosis of the liver and then sit down and have a good think.

      Reply
  23. ItsMe

    Alcohol calories are not carb calories *exactly*. They are their own category and have many more cals per gram. Also, they metabolize quite different than carb cals.

    Reply
  24. youssefdoukkala

    I drink almost 12 beers each week, but in one shot ! I have noticed that my belly get bigger the day after ! The is huge difference between calories from food and alcohol intake. Before I started binging beers, I was skinny with a nice flat belly, even I was eating 24h/24h the belly fat started when I started drinking beers

    Reply
  25. BG

    Request some advice:

    I am 42 and love to drink one or two nights out of the week. I typically drink a beer that has 125 cal. per serving. When I do drink, I tend to drink 6-8 bottles. I have never watched calories or diet before, but am prepared to do so, same with exercise. I have a thin frame but a full on beer gut. I don’t really want to cut my beer intake but could reduce to one night instead of two per week. Given these parameters, here are my questions:

    After a night of drinking, how shall I exercise? Should I wait or increase my next day workout?

    Should I avoid certain foods before or after drinking?

    Should I increase certain foods before or after drinking?

    Reply
  26. momma1031

    Help me find some low cal alcohol drinks to enjoy with my husband. I am not about to take it totally out of my life. We enjoy a few drinks together before bed and that is a very good time for us to sit an reflect on the day. We really enjoy this low key time to reflect on our day.

    Reply
  27. momma1031

    I have started phenterimine and have used this over the past 20 years. All and all my question has to do with drinking. My husband and I really enjoy having drinks in the evening before we go to bed. Maybe while watching a movie or just relaxing. I would like to know a low cal alternative to rum, whiskey and coke. I just like a few, as in one or two, but would like them to be low cal please give me some help here.

    Reply
  28. Betty

    I am a wine lover. I have had to stop drinking it because even one or two glasses a night with dinner caused me to eat more, and fall asleep or just lay around. I gained 15 lbs in one year. Now that I have stopped drinking completely except for special occasions,
    I have lost 20 lbs already and notice I have much more energy, especially after dinner. I don’t believe people gain weight from alcohol because of alcohol alone, although those extra calories are not good for you, but because it makes them eat more and become inactive.

    Reply
  29. Alison

    No way can they have proved the beer belly is a myth, I just don’t believe it! I know so many men and the only ones with beer bellies are the heavy beer drinkers – Even the reasonably active ones! x

    Reply
  30. Alison

    I think interpreting a standalone comment as derogatory and ticking someone off for it without finding out for sure that it *was* (I didn’t find it so, for one) is a little derogatory, in itself. :-/ Sorry x

    Reply
  31. Alison

    James, you really need to go back to school or get a spellchecker – and while you’re at it, do a lil biology research. Alcohol doesn’t make the body ‘excrete’ water. x

    Reply
  32. takenitora

    To all, especially drinkingandfit and beerisgood,

    Thanks for your insight. I love a drink or two and trying to reduce my consumption– from hearing that it fattens you or nullifies weight training gains– has been actually rather stressful!

    So I have a question: How much time should I place between drinking and exercise? Right now I only drink a day or two a week, when I’m not going to the gym, but would it be better to drink a few hours after exercise, then just not go to the gym the next day? Or would it be the same to drink and lift weights the next morning?

    Reply
  33. takenitora

    Should I place time between drinking and exercise? Right now I only drink a day or two a week, when I’m not going to the gym– I miss drinking more often!– but would it be better to drink a few hours after exercise, then just not bother with the gym the next day? Or would it be the same to drink and lift weights the next morning?

    Reply
  34. takenitora

    To all, especially drinkingandfit and beerisgood,

    Thanks for your insight. I love a drink or two and trying to reduce my consumption– from hearing that it fattens you or nullifies weight training gains– has been actually rather stressful!

    So I have a question: How much time should I place between drinking and exercise? Right now I only drink a day or two a week, when I’m not going to the gym, but would it be better to drink a few hours after exercise, then just not go to the gym the next day? Or would it be the same to drink and lift weights the next morning?

    Reply