I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to cut alcohol out of your life entirely. I will never be the personal trainer that says you can’t drink or eat something. It’s not my philosophy; never has been and never will be. Why? Because I practice what I preach. Yes, I eat chocolate and I love to have a beer with my friends, but I also know my limits, I train hard and I eat a balanced diet.

Yes, you can drink alcohol and lose weight.

But, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the green light to open a bottle of wine tonight or slam 8 espresso martinis after work this Friday! Moderation is important, and so is knowing how to choose drinks that will have the least impact on your weight loss goals.

Why drinking (too much) alcohol will slow your weight loss.

The truth is that, even if you eat super healthy most of the time, too much alcohol can hinder your weight loss and can even lead to weight gain. But the good news is that you can still enjoy a drink without sabotaging your weight loss goals, but, first, you should understand how (and why) alcohol can slow your weight loss if you don’t approach it in the right way.

Normally your body burns your fat reserves to get the energy it needs, which is exactly what you want when you’re trying to lose weight. The problem with drinking alcohol while you’re following a weight loss plan, is that booze provides a quicker, more accessible form of energy for your body than fat does. And, no matter how much we might wish it were different: if alcohol is so much easier for your body to turn into fuel compared to fat. And here is the reason #1 why drinking can slow your weight loss: no matter how we might wish it was different, your body will always go for the quickest and easiest energy source for fuel and, fat isn’t it!

If you want to enjoy a social drink and stick to your weight goals, then it’s about finding a healthy balance, so you can ensure your body will still burn fat for fuel.

Learn how to have a drink without gaining weight
5 practical tips that work for me and thousands of my 28ers!

Why you should avoid high fat meals or snacks if you’re having a drink.

If weight loss is your main goal and you’re generally doing all the right things to actively lose weight, then here is my biggest piece of advice: avoid eating high-fat or high calorie foods while you’re drinking.

The problem with fatty foods is that they contain a lot of calories, and eating high-calorie foods when you’re also consuming a lot of calories from a beer or wine means your body is going to have a lot of excess energy it has to store somewhere. And since alcohol supplies plenty of easy energy to your body, all the calories from those tasty, late-night chips are likely to be sent straight into your fat cells for ‘safekeeping’!

That’s why eating fatty or high-calorie meals while you’re drinking alcohol really hurts your weight loss goals. Because not only do you still have to work off the weight you wanted to lose, you’re going to have to work hard to burn off the new fat from your big night out first!

If you’re short on time, jump ahead to my tips on how to drink a glass of wine or two, and still lose weight.

Why ‘dieting’ can set you up for failure.

There’s so much bad advice around weight loss out there. It’s all too common to be told that something is ‘bad’ for us and that we have to cut it out of our life completely. But, after 20 years in the health & fitness industry, I can tell you that always ‘going without’ is not a sustainable way to live, and it often leads to failure.

When we are overly restrictive and cut out everything we enjoy, we often feel deprived and that can be a dangerously negative feeling that may lead us to ‘cheat’ on our diet.

A healthy, balanced approach to weight loss is the best way to lose weight and keep it off for good.

I’ve found that the harsher the dietary restrictions we impose on ourselves, the greater our chance of falling off the wagon; and when we fall, we can fall hard, leading to an unhealthy binge mentality where we over-restrict and over-indulge. It’s not healthy and it’s not an enjoyable way to live.

JUMP TO: The best alcohol to drink while on a diet

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How to enjoy a few glasses of booze without stalling your weight loss.

At 28, we have never been the kind of home weight loss program to tell you that you shouldn’t drink at all, because that’s simply not a sustainable (or enjoyable) way to live. It’s all about finding the right balance, so keep on reading and I’ll give you some healthy tips on how to drink socially, and still lose weight.

Balance and moderation.

If you want to lose weight then you need your body to use your fat for fuel. But you also know (if you read my explanation above) that drinking too much alcohol can slow your weight loss, or even reverse it. So, how do you enjoy a glass or two with friends and family without slowing your weight loss goals?

Moderation is the key to enjoying a drink, staying healthy and still being able to lose weight. So, with that said, here are 5 tips to help you enjoy the occasional beer or wine and still achieve your weight loss goals.

#1. If you drink, don’t go overboard.

When it comes to a sustainable healthy lifestyle, we don’t believe you should have to cut any food group from your diet, including an occasional glass or two of your favourite alcoholic drink. So plan ahead. Before you go out, have a drink limit in mind and make a commitment to yourself to stick to it. Stay strong.

Go to your next event with a strong intention to only have one or two alcoholic drinks.

#2. Pick a healthier drink option.


Sure, that white chocolate espresso martini sounds delicious but it’s jam-packed with sugar and you’re going to drink a lot of unnecessary calories. One way to have a few alcoholic drinks and still lose weight is to choose your drinks wisely. You can reduce how many liquid calories you consume by ordering a clear spirit with soda water, or swap out your cocktail for a glass of wine. Read on to learn: the best alcohol to drink if you’re trying to lose weight

A standard 142ml/5oz glass of wine (like a pinot grigio or pinot noir) is usually around 120 calories, whereas an espresso martini cocktail could be around 300 calories per drink!

JUMP TO: the lowest calorie cocktails you can order at the bar.

#3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Rehydrating between drinks helps you cut back on the alcohol

Alternate every alcoholic drink with a glass of water. Not only will this re-hydrate you, but you may find that you get used to sipping on h20, and you don’t feel the need for another beer or wine.

Sometimes we just want to have a glass in our hand during social events, but we don’t really feel the need to drink. That’s one of the reasons why soda water with fresh lime is my favourite non-alcoholic beverage (and you can tell that pushy friend who’s always up for a big night that you’ve got vodka in that soda and lime!).

Sometimes we just want to have a glass in our hand during social events but we don’t really feel the need to drink. Soda and lime is a great option here!

#4. Don’t skip your usual workout – work hard, play hard!


Get your workout done first thing in the morning before your big night out and have a workout scheduled in for the next morning. You’re much less likely to go overboard if you know you’re already booked to go to a 9am spin class with a friend!

#5. Don’t skip meals (but don’t go too heavy either)

Sam Wood overeating pasta
Don’t skip dinner before drinking or you might be tempted to binge later on.

A big mistake people make is that they’ll skip dinner to compensate for the liquid calories they’re going to consume. This is NOT the answer!

Eat a healthy dinner full of lean protein and good fats before you head out, this will help you slow down the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream. It will also help you keep your cool around canapes and it might even help you resist doing a late-night Maccas run because, let’s face it, fast foods are always more tempting when you’ve been drinking on an empty stomach!

Eat a healthy dinner full of lean protein and good fats before you head out – it will not only help soak up the alcohol, but you’ll be less likely to binge on unhealthier foods later on in the evening.


Sometimes the best-laid plans to drink in moderation can come undone; so if you went a bit hard on the booze last night, and you’re in the mood for a takeaway right now, follow these quick tips on how to make healthier takeaway choices.

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The worst drinks to order if you’re trying to lose weight

If you’re on a diet, and you want to have a drink, then it’s best to avoid anything that is served with a full-sugar softdrink like coke, or anything that comes with a cream or coconut-cream base. Unfortunately, it’s also best to avoid cocktails (especially the ones with little umbrellas in them!) because they’ve usually been packed with lots of shots of spirits and sugar, and it will very quickly push you over your daily calorie limit.

If you’re on a diet, you should avoid these high-calorie drinks at all costs!

Here’s a list of popular high-calorie cocktails that contain more than 400 calories per serve, so do your best to avoid them while you’re trying to lose weight!

  • Mulled wine
  • White Russian
  • Margarita (especially if the premade sour mix is used)
  • Fruity Daiquiris
  • Piña colada
  • Long Island Iced Tea (this could contain anything up to 700 calories!)

Although we generally don’t recommend calorie-counting because it can lead some people to have an unhealthy relationship with food, however it can be useful when you’re trying to make smarter choices in order to lose weight.

[VISUAL GUIDE] Best alcoholic drinks if you’re on a diet

If you’re trying to lose weight without missing out on the occasional drink, then you’ll want to choose wisely and find something that contains the lowest calories. As a general guideline: clear spirits are usually lower in calories than dark spirits. Dry wine has fewer calories than sweet wines. White wine has fewer calories than a heavy red wine. And sparkling wine has fewer calories than white wine.

Alcoholic drinks around 100 calories per serve
  • Brut champagne (note: beware of ‘Extra Dry’ champagne as it is actually higher in calories than Brut)
  • Vodka, soda and lime (real lime, not cordial)
  • Tequila over ice with 2 juiced limes & a dash of soda
  • Light beer
alcoholic drinks around 100 calories per serve
Alcoholic drinks around 120 calories per serve

(for a standard pour 150ml/5oz)

  • Pinot Grigio
  • Pinot Noir
  • Merlot
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Syrah
  • Non-brut champagne (for a 120ml champagne flute serve)
  • Sparkling Rose (for a 120ml champagne flute serve)
Wines & cocktails around 120 calories per drink
Lowest calorie sparkling wines

(for a standard champagne-style flute pour 120ml/4oz)

  • Sparkling prosecco (80 calories)
  • Extra brut champagne (90 calories)
  • Brut champagne (100 calories)
  • Non-brut champagne (120 calories)
  • Extra Dry Champagne (120 calories)
  • Sparkling Rose (120 calories)
Lowest calorie sparkling wines & champagnes

See our list of the lowest calorie cocktails

Lowest calorie cocktails (if you’re watching your weight!)
  • No-Added-Sugar Mojito (about 110 calories)
  • Peach Bellini (about 120 calories)
  • Classic martini (about 130 calories depending on the size of the glass)
  • Gin & Tonic (150 calories)
  • Old Fashioned (150 calories)
  • Cosmopolitan (170 calories, just check they don’t add any sugar syrup!)
lowest calorie cocktails to order the bar

If you decide to enjoy a cocktail while you’re trying to lose weight, ask the bartender to skip the sugar syrup.

Cocktails made from high-quality ingredients shouldn’t need added sugar to taste great.

For example, many espresso martini recipes can be around 350 calories, partly because they recommend the use of sugar syrup as well as sugar-rich coffee liqueurs. But, if you’re making your espresso martini with top-shelf spirits and instead of a liqueur you use a smooth-tasting espresso for your coffee flavour, then you can easily cut back 100 calories by avoiding the added sugar, and your espresso martini will still taste deliciously smooth.

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Posted by Sam Wood

Father and husband, on a mission to help people move more, eat better and make a positive change to their lives. Sam Wood has over 20 years experience as a personal trainer and is recognised as one of Australia’s leading experts and media commentators in the health & fitness industry. Sam is the founder and personal trainer of 28, Australia’s #1 home fitness and nutrition program, and he's also the proud owner of Australia’s largest personal training studio, The Woodshed, based in Brighton, Melbourne.