Does Alcohol Make You Gain Weight? 5 Ways It Sabotages Weight Loss

Years of moderate to heavy drinking can cause liver scarring (fibrosis), increasing the risk of liver diseases like cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis, fatty liver disease, and liver cancer. When you consume food, your body metabolizes it, breaking it down by its nutrients and storing it or using it as energy. However, because the human body cannot store alcohol, when you consume alcoholic drinks, the body immediately begins to process the alcohol and stores other nutrients such as fats, carbohydrates, and proteins aside. In other words, we are likely to eat less nutritious food when drinking and consume more calories from a combination of alcoholic beverages and foods high in unhealthy fats and added sugars. Table 1 shows participants’ baseline characteristics according to alcohol consumption category.

Alcohol Intake and Obesity: Experimental Evidence

can drinking alcohol cause weight gain

Alcohol disrupts your metabolism and lowers testosterone which, in addition to the added calories, contributes to weight gain. That’s an additional 2,000-3,000 calories of fatty, salty, nutritionally poor food sitting in your stomach, which is still reeling from the 4,000+ nighttime calories you crammed into it less than 12 hours ago. Top 5 Advantages of Staying in a Sober Living House This is why you enthusiastically shove cold slices of pizza in your face the day after drinking. Your body will use its energy to burn the alcohol before anything else, including fat and sugar. Drinkaware has a wonderful, reality-inducing tool that lets you calculate exactly how many calories you’re consuming when you go for drinks.

It changes how your body processes fat

Compared to two decades ago, calories are now less expensive, exercise is more expensive, and income levels are higher. Individuals have responded to these changes in ways that lead to weight gain. “If you enjoy a moderate amount of alcohol and it is something that is important to you, I don’t recommend restricting yourself to try to lose weight,” she says.

Other Factors That Influence Weight Change After Drinking

Learn more about how our program can help you say goodbye to wine belly, and establish an improved relationship with alcohol. Does switching to the harder stuff help you avoid bloating and weight gain? If you thought you could avoid a larger gut by avoiding beer, you may be surprised to see your midsection growing anyway! It turns out that “wine belly” is a thing, and too much wine can lead to extra fat around the belly—just like with beer.

  • Alcohol can also affect hunger levels, which may lead you to snack more, which then causes you to consume more calories, which ultimately may cause weight gain.
  • But you don’t have to be male or drink beer in order to gain weight from alcohol.
  • Several experimental studies have been conducted to examine the short-term effect of alcohol intake on feeding behavior and appetite control [3•, 5].
  • Chronic stress is implicated in a host of health problems, including depression, digestive issues, cognitive cloudiness and pain.
  • AUD can cause feelings of anxiety and depression, which may affect a person’s motivation and body image.
  • But even non-problem drinking poses certain health concerns—including its effects on weight gain and obesity.

The results of several studies propose that alcohol may influence energy intake by inhibiting the effects of leptin, or glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) [56, 57]. To date, the evidence suggests that alcohol does not appear to increase appetite through the action of peptide YY (PYY), ghrelin, gastric inhibitory peptide (GIP), or cholecystokinin (CCK) [57–61]. Calissendorf et al. [58] found that alcohol did not increase plasma levels of neuropeptide Y (NPY); however, animal models have shown that central NPY levels are increased following alcohol consumption [62]. However, heavy drinking of any alcoholic beverage will put you at higher risk of gaining belly fat. Over the long term, drinking beer regularly but moderately in portions of less than 17 oz (500 ml) per day doesn’t seem to lead to an increase in body weight or belly fat (7, 8). Additionally, drinking alcohol negatively impacts your metabolism and body’s ability to burn fat, contributing to weight gain.

can drinking alcohol cause weight gain

As a result, even if men can develop a gut more easily, consuming excess calories is not a good idea for women either. No matter who you are or what beverage you prefer, excessive drinking is likely to give you some kind of belly. While casual to moderate drinking may be a part of life for some, excessive or chronic alcohol consumption can significantly impact your body and long-term health. From a glass of wine with dinner to a night out with friends or a celebratory toast, alcohol consumption is deeply ingrained in many social practices and cultural traditions worldwide. In the United States, over 84% of adults report drinking alcohol at least once in their lifetime. Keeping well-hydrated is so important when consuming alcohol – for a variety of reasons.

can drinking alcohol cause weight gain

Several experimental studies have been conducted to examine the short-term effect of alcohol intake on feeding behavior and appetite control [3•, 5]. In these studies, alcohol appears to have no effect on appetite, or to increase appetite [5]. However, to date there have been few intervention studies conducted to experimentally examine the effects of regular alcohol intake on weight gain or obesity in humans.

  • In other words, elevated cortisol could contribute to weight gain, especially around the belly.
  • That can make it easy to inadvertently consume more calories than you need.
  • Alcohol provides calories without any nutrients and does not contribute to feelings of fullness.
  • “This can lead to an even higher level of stress, resulting in a vicious circle that many people find themselves trapped in,” she says.

Alcohol has been reported to account for 16% of adult drinkers’ total energy intake in the United States [68], with men consuming about three times the amount consumed by women [68]. Men are also more likely to drink beer, which is carbohydrate rich, and provides more energy than wine per standard drink [5]. (A–C) Multivariable-adjusted dose–response association of alcoholic beverage types and BMI in the UK Biobank. The BMI coefficient displays the mean difference between the reference category (no consumption in last week) and the other consumption categories.

Those who consumed less overall, but had four or more drinks on drinking days, were at the greatest risk of weight gain (37). In fact, one of the most risky behaviors for developing a beer belly seems to be binge drinking. Studies have found that drinking more than four drinks at one time can increase your risk of belly fat, no matter what drink you choose (19, 37, 38, 39). Other types of alcohol like spirits and wine have fewer calories per standard drink than beer.