If you’re into a good glass of Sauv Blanc or espresso martini and at the same time wonder how—and if—alcohol can fit into your weight care journey, we get it 10 out of 10. “Alcohol is calories and usually non-nutritious calories,” says Hrishikesh Belani, M.D., M.P.H., associate medical director at South Los Angeles Health Center Group and a medical advisor at Sunnyside, an organization that helps people drink mindfully. Just as with eating mindfully, drinking mindfully means taking your health goals into consideration and choosing the amount of alcohol (if any) that’s right for you.“When you’re trying to lose weight, alcohol is an easy thing to put on the chopping block,” explains Dr. Belani. “There’s no pressure to quit. It’s about finding your ideal relationship with alcohol—whether that means cutting back to a couple of drinks a week or zero.”
When you have overweight or obesity, there are some pretty compelling reasons to keep your consumption of booze on the moderate side, if you choose to drink at all. (For the record, moderation is defined by the CDC as no more than one drink a day for women and two or less for men.) Excessive weight already increases the risk for many chronic conditions, and alcohol may increase those risks even more. “When your liver is busy breaking down alcohol, other jobs aren't being done, like metabolizing fats and estrogens, which can increase the risk of obesity, heart disease, and cancer,” says Rekha Kumar, M.D., chief medical officer at Found.
Plus, drinking can lead to overeating. “Alcohol lowers inhibitions and might make you feel hungrier,” says Dr. Belani. In fact, studies show that drinking may cause you to eat 30 percent more calories at a meal than usual. And research shows that your body doesn’t register calories from beverages (whether wine or soda) the same way it does food, so you might want to nosh more to feel full.
So it’s no wonder that a recent meta-analysis of 13 studies published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Public Health found that the risk of obesity is more than two times higher in adults that consume alcohol than those who don’t.
There is, however, something to be said for the enjoyment of having the occasional drink. And that’s OK. We’re not preaching abstinence here—and that’s one of the reasons we’ve partnered with Sunnyside. Found is all about personalizing a program that can help you make behavior changes that fit with your lifestyle and are sustainable. And that’s the approach that Sunnyside takes, too. They work with you to set a goal for alcohol consumption that is achievable and meets you where you are in your journey—based on how much and when you want to drink with their personalized coaching and community providing you support along the way. It comes back to moderation—with booze, with food, with most things. Health and happiness are the exceptions. (Bonus: You can get 20 percent off your membership.) Santé!