Can I Drink Alcohol on a Diet?

  • Author:
    Betty Kovacs Harbolic, MS, RD

    Betty is a Registered Dietitian who earned her B.S. degree in Food and Nutrition from Marymount College of Fordham University and her M.S. degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. She is the Co-Director and Director of nutrition for the New York Obesity Research Center Weight Loss Program.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ask the experts

I love to drink, but I'm trying to diet. Are there any alcoholic beverages that I can drink without gaining weight?

Doctor's response

To begin with, the dietary guidelines for alcohol consumption are:

  • Those who choose to drink alcoholic beverages should do so sensibly and in moderation-defined as the consumption of up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.
  • Alcoholic beverages should not be consumed by some individuals, including those who cannot restrict their alcohol intake, women of childbearing age who may become pregnant, pregnant and lactating women, children and adolescents, individuals taking medications that can interact with alcohol, and those with specific medical conditions.
  • Alcoholic beverages should be avoided by individuals engaging in activities that require attention, skill, or coordination, such as driving or operating machinery.

If you do choose to drink, and want to lose weight, here are some tips:

  • Try not to drink on an empty stomach. Alcohol can lower your blood sugar, which can increase your hunger. Make sure that you have food in your stomach first.
  • Avoid drinks with juice or cola. Use diet cola or flavored seltzers instead to save lots of calories.
  • Try to limit the number of different kinds of liquor that there are in the drinks that you have. The more liquor, the more calories.
  • Instead of a full glass of wine, have a wine spritzer. Half the wine means half the calories.
  • Lite beer is lite because there are fewer calories, so choose that instead.
  • Look up the calories in the drinks that you have to see how much they "cost" you.

Research has shown that liquid calories do not satisfy us the way that calories from food does. On top of that, the calories are considered "empty" calories because you are not getting a lot of nutrients in the beverage. It's important to keep alcohol as a treat and factor in the calories from it that way. Do not replace food with alcohol as a way of cutting calories.

Medically reviewed by Robert Bargar, MD; Board Certification in Public Health & General Preventive Medicine


"Overview of the risks and benefits of alcohol consumption"

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Reviewed on 8/11/2017