I will never be the trainer who tells you that you can’t eat this and you can’t drink that. It’s not my philosophy; never has been and never will be. Why? I practice what I preach. I train hard and I eat a balanced diet, but I still eat chocolate and I love to have a beer with my friends. I just know my limits.

It’s all too common to be told something is ‘bad’ for us and that we have to cut it out of our life completely, but I don’t believe ‘going without’ is a sustainable way to live. When we restrict, we feel deprived and that can lead us to fall off the wagon, which starts a vicious cycle of over-restricting and over-indulging.

I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to cut alcohol out of your life entirely. It’s all about finding the perfect balance.

Yes, you can drink alcohol and lose weight.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the green light to have a bottle of wine tonight or 8 espresso martinis after work this Friday. Too much alcohol can hinder your weight loss and can also lead to weight gain. The important thing is that you understand the effects alcohol will have on your body, how it can slow your weight loss, and how to enjoy a drink without sabotaging your weight loss goals.

But (too much) alcohol will slow your progress.

Normally your body will burn your fat reserves to get the energy it needs to function, which is exactly what you want if you want to lose weight. The problem is that alcohol can interrupt this natural fat loss process.

Why alcohol can slow your weight loss.

Your body is always on the lookout for the quickest and easiest energy source and, unfortunately, booze provides a much more accessible form of energy compared to the complex process of unlocking the energy stored inside your fat cells.

It gets even worse if you eat high-fat foods while drinking alcohol – which most of us have done at some point!

In this situation, not only will your body not burn any of your existing fat, all the new fat in those greasy foods will go straight to your fat cells for storage because, once again, your body has more than enough easy energy to use thanks to the alcohol calories you just drank.

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

You want your body to use your fat for fuel, but you also want to be able to enjoy a glass or two with friends and family. The good news is that you CAN have both, if you approach it in the right way! Balance and moderation are key to staying healthy and still being able to enjoy what you love. So, with that said, here are 5 tips to help you enjoy the occasional beer or wine and still achieve your weight loss goals.


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#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.

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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.

A glass of sparkling prosecco contains around 80 calories, a standard 142ml/5oz glass of pinot grigio or pinot noir is usually around 120 calories, whereas an espresso martini cocktail could be around 300 calories per drink!

#3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

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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!

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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 overeat while drinking either)

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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 because it will 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 which is 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 – you’ll be less likely to binge on unhealthier foods later on in the evening.

CRAVING A TAKEAWAY AFTER A NIGHT OUT?

Sometimes the best-laid plans to drink in moderation can come undone; so if you do happen to overdo it and you’re in the mood for a takeaway the next day, be prepared with these quick tips on how to make healthier takeaway choices. Here’s to progress, not perfection!

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.