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effects of alcohol on weight loss

We all do it, we all do the dog on it, and then we all curse ourselves the next day. Most of us will have great progress with Training and Weight Loss for about 2-3 weeks and then it happens; THE NIGHT OUT!!

It can start with friends over to the house for a few beers or a bottle of wine, or going to someone's birthday for "One or Two", and it ends up with us falling asleep in the back of a Taxi at 3am with curry chips all over your trousers!! (well maybe not always this extreme, but you get the point)

Generally, when this happens people fall into 3 Brackets:

  1. They go for a walk or a run the next day, do the food shop, cook lunches for the next day and get back on track.

  2. They call the weekend a "write-off", taking to the couch for the day and force feeding every piece of chocolate and fast food they can into their mouth and cancelling out any progress that may have been made the past 2-3 weeks.

  3. They don't train the next week as they've no energy, haven't slept properly, and then decide to quit altogether as they can't afford the gym or PT as they have spent all their money the previous weekend on booze and chicken nuggets.


Now don't get me wrong, I love a pint of Guinness, a glass of red wine, or a savage whiskey as much as the next guy, but if your goal is Weight Loss, then you will have to knock it on the head for a few weeks, or set a limit on the number of alcoholic drinks you have on a night out. And here are the main reasons why:


1. Alcohol increases belly fat

Obviously drinking a lot of alcohol is adding extra calories to your weekly meal plan, you don't need me to explain that. I'm more interested in explaining how the detoxication of alcohol through our body actually works, and how it affects our Mid-Section.

In general, alcohol intake is associated with bigger waists, because when you drink alcohol, the liver burns alcohol instead of fat. When you take in more calories than you burn, the excess calories are stored as fat. Where your body stores that fat is determined in part by your age, sex, and hormones, but for the vast majority of people fat will be stored in your Belly. Why does this matter? Well, Firstly it's not nice when every shirt or blouse you try on is bursting at the seams around the middle. And Secondly increased Belly Fat around the midsection is linked to a variety of health issues; Type 2 Diabetes, High Blood pressure, High cholesterol, and Cardiovascular Disease (any heart condition). Visceral Fat is generally measured by our Waist circumference. When waist circumference exceeds 35 inches for women and 40 for men, it is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. (REF: Mayo Clinic, Michael Jensen MD)

So in short, while we will all have some belly fat around the middle, one of the best things you can do for your health is to reduce your waist dimensions slightly and stick broadly to the recommended guidelines of alcohol intake per week (2 Units/day for men, 1 Unit/day for women).


2. Alcohol negatively affects your sleep

Regularly drinking alcohol can disrupt sleep. This is bad for WEIGHT LOSS as one of the primary ways we burn fat is when we are asleep.

Poor Sleep = Poor Weight Loss Results

A heavy drinking session of more than ten units in an evening, can make us spend more time in deep sleep and less time than usual in the important Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep, which is an important restorative stage of sleep our bodies need.

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that causes brain activity to slow down. The consumption of alcohol in large amounts is closely linked to poor sleep quality and duration. People who excessively drink commonly experience insomnia symptoms and it can also exacerbate the symptoms of sleep apnea.

Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder. It will leave people struggling to get to sleep at night, while being constantly tired the following day, possibly relying on Caffeinated drinks for energy, and then alcohol again to relax and unwind in order to get to sleep. This can leave people in a vicious cycle which has been shown to increase levels of anxiety and depression amongst individuals.

How do we fix this?? Firstly, drink less alcohol and go to bed at a routine time and your sleep will eventually go back to normal. If that's not an option and you have a "Big One" this weekend and will be going all out on the lash try these few handy tips;

  • Get a good nights sleep the night before

  • Drink water, or a soft drink after every 2-3 alcoholic drinks

  • Eat a good dinner before "The Sesh"

  • Don't plan much for the hungover day, just rest & recover

  • Avoid Caffeinated drinks the following day (or reduce them from 3 coffees to maybe 1)

  • And most importantly, if you notice you are in this vicious cycle of poor sleep, over consumption on alcohol every weekend, living on 5 coffees a day or red bull/monster at work - please try taking a 4 week break from the drink and you will feel 100 times better in a very short space of time. I can promise you that! :-)


So whether you need a pick me up, want to lose weight, get fit or just start to feel better looking at alcohol consumption may be one of the first areas you need to address (especially for us Irish folk!). And don't worry, it's not all doom and gloom or "1 Year no Beer", quite simply drinking 2 glasses of wine that you enjoy instead of 1.5 bottles where you feel sick will do the trick!

If you need help getting started with improving your health & fitness, or would like some tips or advice on what to do. Please feel free to email us on or add us on Instagram (@scullyfitness01) and we will be glad to help!


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