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Does alcohol make you gain weight?

It's a worry right? Is drinking causing a bit of middle-aged spread? A beer belly? If you are drinking more, you quickly notice that your waistband is a bit tighter, right? 

It seems pretty logical that drinking too much alcohol makes you gain weight but we wanted to look at the facts and understand why.  It turns out that the answer is not totally straightforward. 

There are lots of reasons why drinking too much alcohol might make you gain weight:

 

 Four ways drinking alcohol makes you gain weight Infographic from The Drink Swap Non Alcoholic Drinks

Still, the evidence is not completely conclusive that drinking alcohol is related to being overweight or obese. A review of the research shows that it depends on several factors including what you drink, how often you drink, how much you drink and what foods you eat during and after drinking. 

In fact, for some people, particularly women, drinking low or moderate amounts of alcohol can be part of a healthy lifestyle and can protect them from weight gain.  Keeping your alcohol consumption to a healthy level, that is less than 10 standard drinks per week, and drinking lower calorie drinks is the key to keeping weigh gain at bay.

Drinking higher calorie alcohol is linked to weight gain, this great tool from Drinkaware helps you calculate the calories in your favourite drinks.

Drinking lower calorie non-alcoholic drinks is a great way to reduce the excess calories you consume as well as reducing your alcohol consumption.  At The Drink Swap we have put together a collection of our lowest calorie drinks, some as low as 14 calories per glass. In fact, by doing The Drink Swap and swapping your alcoholic tipple to some of these drinks, you can reduce the calories in your drink by up to 90%! 

If you love a glass of white wine, Giesen 0% Sauvignon Blanc is also super low in calories, at 10.6 calories per serve, Giesen 0% has 85% less calories than a traditional Sauvignon Blanc. 

 Giesen Non Alcoholic Sauvignon Blanc 0% Wine at The Drink Swap

 

References:

https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/facts/health-effects-of-alcohol/alcohol-and-calories/calories-in-alcohol 

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/Alcohol-and-weight-gain#how-alcohol-could-cause-weight-gain

https://fare.org.au/alcohol-and-obesity-a-systematic-review-scoping-study/

How alcohol ramps up hunger signals. Nature 541, 136 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/541136b

Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol. National Health and Medical Research Council (2020), Australian Research Council and Universities Australia. Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra