This is a summary of an article by Holly Baxter. Click here to read the full article with complete references to research studies.

Maybe you’ve just completed Dry January or you maybe you are just trying to drop a few pounds and wondering about how alcohol affects your diet? Do you need to cut out all alcohol to lose weight? Does that mean you can’t go out and enjoy a few drinks with friends or have wine with your dinner? Am I undoing all my hard work in the gym by enjoying a few cocktails?

The short answer is you can achieve weight loss and include alcohol. Here’s how:

Remember…in order to lose body fat, there must be a calorie deficit. This can either be by manipulating your calories or your exercise levels (preferably both).  In order to maintain your current weight and body composition, you need to know roughly how many calories are required. For fat loss, the calorie intake needs to be lower and/or you can increase your energy output by adding more activity.

So, how can we include alcohol in our diet without it altering our fat loss? Without getting into the nitty-gritty of the math, simply adjusting your diet to account for the calories from the alcohol by substituting your carbs, fat, or a combination of the two is the best method. Ideally, you don’t want to impact your daily protein needs so adjusting for carbohydrates and fats is a better alternative.

It’s also important to know approximately how many calories are in the drinks you are consuming. Those tasty frozen Pina Coladas and 6-7% IPAs can come in as high as 300 calories per drink!  Lower calorie options include light beers, clear spirits with low-calorie mixers, and wine varietals like pinot grigio and rose.

The take-home message here is — if you choose to consume alcohol while trying to lose body fat, it can be done, but it’s important not to exceed your daily calorie requirements or sacrifice your protein intake.

Cheers!