Can alcohol make you fat?
Alcohol does contain calories, but it's safe to assume that no one gains a lot of weight by throwing back shots of straight vodka. Instead, it is the metabolic priority that your body places on alcohol (over carbohydrates and fats) that causes the damage.
Take note: Alcohol is not a diet food. Still, alcohol is not a diet food: A 5-ounce glass of wine has around 150 calories, a 1.5-ounce shot of vodka or 12 ounces of light beer, 100. For every drink you have, you have to subtract something else from your diet or log another mile on the treadmill— or risk weight gain.
- Alcohol dehydrates your body generally, including the skin – your body's largest organ. This happens every time you drink. Drinking too much is also thought to deprive the skin of vital vitamins and nutrients. Over time, drinking heavily can have other, more permanent, detrimental effects on your skin.
- It is usually consumed 2-3 nips at a time given its lower alcohol strength. It is definitely one worth avoiding if weight loss is the aim. Drink alcohol with a lower caloric value, and a higher alcohol percentage (like wine for example). Less will be consumed, meaning lower overall calorie consumption.
- Alcohol is addictive, highly toxic and can have harmful physical and mental effects when consumed in large amounts (27, 28). In terms of gut health, chronic alcohol consumption can cause serious problems, including dysbiosis. Polyphenols are plant compounds that escape digestion and are broken down by gut bacteria.
When it comes to alcohol and weight gain the term 'beer belly' can be misleading. The pure alcohol in your drink is as fattening whatever drink it's in - so it's no more fattening in beer than in wine for example. With around seven calories per gram, alcohol contains almost the same calories as pure fat.
- A hard belly is caused by a high accumulation of visceral fat (located in the spaces between organs in your abdominal cavity); it's packed in tightly, so there's no jiggle room. A soft belly is caused by subcutaneous fat (located close to the skin's surface), so it has room to roll.
- An excess of visceral fat is known as central obesity, the "pot belly" or "beer belly" effect, in which the abdomen protrudes excessively. This body type is also known as "apple shaped", as opposed to "pear shaped", in which fat is deposited on the hips and buttocks.
- The calories in vodka come only from the alcohol itself. Pure alcohol contains roughly 7 calories per gram. This means that alcohol is nearly twice as fattening as carbohydrates or protein and only slightly less fattening than fat.
Updated: 17th October 2019