How to Drink Less & Avoid Holiday Weight Gain from Alcohol

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The holiday season is here and that means many parties and drinking! If you’re wondering how to drink less during all of the gatherings, here are some general tips to follow.

These days, Americans have an average of three parties per week between work, friends and family visits. These parties start around thanksgiving and, for some, are nonstop all the way through the new year. So the big question is how to drink less with these endless gatherings.

Eggnog, ciders and cocktails are a given at these events, but some may start to worry about gaining weight around this time. With good reason, because overindulging during the holidays is basically tradition and at these festivities there’s always copious amounts of food and drink to go around.

However, before you start packing those spirits and wine in the back of your car for your holiday parties, there are some things to keep in mind about alcohol.

How Does Your Body Process Alcohol?

First, unlike carbohydrates, fats and proteins, alcohol cannot be stored in the body. Therefore, the calories that come from alcohol have to be processed by the liver first, while all of the other holiday food you’re eating (in its copious quantities) usually ends up being stored as fat.

Why Does Alcohol Make You Hungry?

To make matters worse, science shows that alcohol lowers your blood sugar which triggers the body to be more hungry, so you end up eating even more than you normally would. And for those who are familiar with a drunken appetite (or the drunchies), you’re not exactly craving carrots and kale while on this binge. This usually guides you towards more fatty, high-sugar foods for satisfaction.

Not the best news, I know, and let’s be honest: most of you are not going to let an article stop you from having your fun this holiday season. This is totally fair and, in fact, you shouldn’t be trying to lose weight during the holidays. It’s encouraged that you enjoy them just like anyone else. But it’s valuable to keep in mind that making good choices can help you maintain your weight rather than gain more.

Serving Sizes of Alcohol

BeverageServing Size
Wine4 ounces
Liquor (vodka, tequila, rum, etc.)1.5 ounces (1 shot)
Beer12 ounces

6 Tips: How to Drink Less During the Holidays

So, when it comes to holiday drinking, here are some tips on how you can navigate around pitfalls that may sabotage your weight management goals while still having a good time:

  1. Plan how much you will drink.
  2. Socialize away from food and snacks.
  3. Don’t gift a bottle of liquor, wine, or beer.
  4. Pay attention to mixers in your drinks.
  5. Avoid binge drinking.
  6. Drink alcohol and water 1:1.

1. Plan how much you will drink.

Decide ahead of time how much you plan to drink and then recruit a friend or loved one to help keep you accountable so you don’t end up giving into unexpected impulses.

2. Socialize away from food and snacks.

While socializing during drinking, try to do so away from foods and snacks to prevent yourself from unwillingly and mindlessly snacking while you chat, so you don’t accidentally consume even more calories.

3. Don’t gift a bottle of liquor, wine, or beer.

If you’re a party guest, don’t bring a bottle of booze as a present. If you have to bring a party beverage, try sparkling cider, teas or hot chocolate. That way you know there are alternative options to alcohol available.

4. Pay attention to mixers in your drinks.

If you are drinking spirits/liquor, watch your mixers. Instead of caloric mixers like soda and juice, try mixing with soda water (or club soda/sparkling water) to keep calories low and keep you hydrated. Another way to stay hydrated and give yourself more volume but less alcohol is to use a lot of ice.

5. Avoid binge drinking.

Do your best not to binge drink. This is no more than 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men during your party. This is to prevent weight gain and drink responsibly.

6. Drink Alcohol and Water 1:1.

Finally, alternate! If you do decide to drink, tell yourself that during the party, for every alcoholic drink you have, you’ll have a non-alcoholic one like water or tea after it before you have another. Adding additional, lower caloric fluid can inhibit you from the physiological urge to drink more.

Interested in more tips for alcohol while trying to lose weight? Read my other article: How to Lose Weight Without Giving Up Alcohol.

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