If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact the Military Crisis Line or call 911: 1-800-273-8255, press 1 or Text 83825

How Alcohol Impacts Weight

Are you gearing up for your physical fitness test and need to drop a few pounds? Or do you find it tough to maintain your weight? You know you need to eat healthy and exercise, but you may not know that too much alcohol can impact your weight.

All calories are not created equal.

Alcohol is high in calories. But did you know that a mixed drink or two may be the same number of calories as an entire meal?

The types of calories you take in matter. Research shows that eating foods such as protein, fruits and vegetables are important to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. On the other hand, the calories in alcohol are empty, which means those calories do not contain the nutrients you need to build muscle or stay healthy. Just like eating too many calories from food can contribute to weight gain, too many empty calories from alcohol can also negatively impact your weight.

Can I still grab a drink with friends?

Moderate drinking (one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men) should not heavily impact your nutrition. However, you may want to keep in mind that even one drink might cause you to make less healthy food choices.

What if I’m concerned about my weight?

How can I enjoy myself and maintain my weight?

Here are some tips to consider on top of your healthy eating and exercise routine:

  • Know what a standard drink looks like. For example, a standard beer is 12 ounces, while a standard glass of wine is five ounces. Know your drink size because what you order at the bar could be two or three standard drinks (aka two or three times the calories).
  • Know how many calories are in your drink. To lose weight, you need to burn 500 more calories than you consume each day. Beer has about 150 calories and a pina colada has 490 calories, so hitting your goal could be as easy as giving up a couple beers or one mixed drink.
  • Eat before you drink. You will absorb the alcohol more slowly and can often make better food choices if you eat before the alcohol affects your decision-making skills.
  • Work with a health and wellness coach. Military OneSource health and wellness coaches can help you set goals and create a plan to reach them.
  • Talk with your health care provider if you think your alcohol use is affecting your health goals. Talk with a dietitian at your MTF about healthy eating and find other resources on weight.

If you think your drinking habits are adding to your weight concerns, consider cutting back or taking a break from drinking. If you find it difficult to go a day or two without alcohol, consider talking to a buddy or getting help.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact the Military Crisis Line or call 911: 1-800-273-8255, press 1 or Text 83825