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Alcohol and your weight

Alcohol can have lots of calories, so you may want to drink less or choose a drink with fewer calories if you’re trying to lose weight. Find out more.

If you’re trying to lose weight, cutting back on your alcohol makes sense. Having a few alcohol-free days a week is a good way to start feeling healthier without having to bother counting calories.

The effect of alcohol and carbohydrates on diabetes

If you are carb counting, drinking alcohol can make it difficult to keep track of how many carbs you’ve had. It can also affect the amount of insulin you need to take, as your blood sugar can change much more, so you’re more likely to get a “hypo” if you don’t watch out for the signs and test for this.

How alcohol affects you depends on what you drink and how much, along with what else you’re doing while you’re drinking – are you eating or dancing? So it’s best to talk to your healthcare team and get advice that is best for you.

Low carb alcoholic drinks

Know what’s in your drink, so you can choose the best type for you. For instance, low-carb options include:

  • dry red or white wines
  • sparkling white wines like champagne cava and prosecco
  • pure spirits like whiskey, gin and vodka
  • cocktails like a dry martini

High-carb drinks include:

  • beer
  • cider
  • sugary cocktails
  • alcopops

Some beers and ciders contain much more carbs, which will increase your blood sugar levels further. Also avoid beers and cider (sometimes called diabetic drinks) that may have less sugar because they could have more alcohol in them. Just one pint of a low-sugar beer can bring you above the legal limit.

Drinks high in sugars

Be careful if you drink any of the following, as they can be high in sugars:

  • low-alcohol wines (often have more sugar than normal ones)
  • sweet sherries and vermouths
  • sweet wines, like dessert wine
  • liqueurs, like Bailey’s, Amaretto and Malibu

Go for soda water or tonic mixers rather than coke or lemonade, which are much higher in sugars or ask for diet versions.

If you drink a bottle of wine 6 times a month at 600 calories per bottle, that’s 600 x 6 = 3600 a month. An extra 43,200 calorie a year. Halve this to 3 bottles to save 21,600 calories a year while still enjoying a drink.

Other health risks of alcohol

If you have diabetes, make sure you know about the other health risks around drinking.

If you drink 1 bottle of wine 6 times a month at 600 calories per bottle 600 x 6 = 3600 a month. That’s an extra 43,200 calorie a year.

Resource section

NHS guide to alcohol support

Low-carb alcohol guide from the Dietdoctor

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