Booze Belly – How does alcohol affect fat loss?

alcohol affect fat loss



It only seems right to talk about alcohol at this time of the year. Following on from my last blog post, I talked about the non-alcoholic drinks we consume (check it out here), it’s time to talk booze! Whilst the Christmas decorations are up and the carols are playing, it just feels good to be half cut at all times whilst still getting over the hangover from the night before. Many of us enjoy a drink with our friends, family, and pets or at any time for that matter. But do we really how it affects us?

Spoiler alert: If you can’t be arsed to read to the end, the moral of the story is “drinking is bad”.

The absorption process

Science version: Your body absorbs alcohol through the small intestines and stomach. The body can’t store alcohol so it gets broken down by the liver into other chemicals. The rate at which this happens depends on loads of factors (age, weight, gender). Your body can only process 1 unit of alcohol per hour, so any more than that and you will start to accumulate alcohol in the blood. That’s the equivalent of half a pint of beer. I don’t know many people that sip half a pint over an hour.

Non science version: When you drink beer you lose the ability to hold a serious conversation and when you stand up your legs stop working properly.

You are probably thinking “this sounds brilliant! Shall we go to the pub?” Easy tiger, im getting to the bad bits now. You don’t need me to tell you drinking is bad, but I’m going to give you the details of how it could be affecting your body and the way it looks.


alcohol affect fat loss




Having a drink that contains a high number of calories will have a huge impact on your fat loss efforts (nothing new there). If you trying to be in a calorie deficit of 500 kcals, you will only need a couple of drinks to kiss that goodbye. Alcohol contains a whopping 7kcals per gram! Compared with protein (4kcals), carbs (4kcals) and fat (9kcals), it seems a big price to pay instead of the food.

Take your average night out of a few beers, maybe a couple of shorts and maybe a cheeky shot. This equates to nearly 1000kcals (and that’s not including the midnight kebab shop), imagine the meal you can have instead of that! Liquid calories quickly add up and don’t make you feel full or stop you being hungry.


It is a well-known fact that drinking causes you to be dehydrated. We all have had that feeling of waking up in the morning with a mouth like Moses flip flop. Gasping for a drop of water as if you have just trekked across the Sahara desert. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it causes you to get rid of more fluid than you consume. Performance is affected by dehydration with a loss of as little as 2% of your body weight.

alcohol affect fat loss

The Hangover

Hangovers are the worst! I have a theory that when you drink you seem to borrow personality from the next day. This is the reason I’m a hollow soulless carcass with a hangover. With reduced sleep quality throughout the minimal time spent in bed, it’s no wonder you feel a bit rough. Combine that with dehydration, lack of electrolytes in the body and that dodgy kebab churning away, it’s no surprise you aren’t feeling your sharpest.

How to minimise it

Now I’ve told you some of the negative impacts, here’s how to minimise these effects. There is one tactic but I don’t think you are going to like it…’s not drink. I can hear your response from here. It starts with an “F” and ends in “off”. Here a few tips to help reduce damage.


  1. Reduce calories – If you know you have a big night out planned at the end of the week, try and reduce calories slightly earlier in the week. I would take these calories from carbs and fats. For example instead of having a big sandwich for lunch, maybe opt for the lighter salad. Making small changes throughout the week could help reduce the blowout later on.
  2. Stay hydrated – Keeping topped up with fluids throughout the day is always a good idea, and even more important if you are drinking. Opt for a soft drink or a glass of water in between drinks to rehydrate. You will be surprised about how much better you feel in the morning.
  3. Don’t go mad – “Just having one” are dangerous words. When drinking with friends it’s hard to track drinks and to not give into peer pressure. Don’t feel every time you have drink, it has to be to excess. Nothing magical happens when you hit the 10 pint mark, except your legs stop working and the toilet will soon become your best friend.


alcohol affect fat loss

Bottom line

Drinking is bad for the body. If you are trying to look for that extra 1% for training at a competitive level I would recommend giving it a miss. But if you are trying to look half decent naked, I would take steps to try and minimise the impact on your body. With calories, dehydration and the dreaded hangover all playing a part, you are not doing yourselves any favours by hitting the drink.