How a dry January may help weight loss

  • 3 Minutes Read

If you are trying to lose those extra pounds that you put on over the holidays, then read on for a few tips on how cutting out alcohol for the month of January can positively impact your weight loss.

How a dry January may help weight loss

If you overindulged during the holidays or are simply looking for a way to press the reset button with your health, you may want to consider a dry January. Essentially a dry January is just like it sounds; you give up alcohol for the month. It originally started as a public health campaign to bring awareness to alcohol habits in the United Kingdom. Today it has gained popularity around the world and in particular in the United States.

There are numerous reasons individuals decide to hang up their "alcohol hat" at the start of a new year. Drinking too much can negatively affect health in many ways, not to mention alcohol contains a lot of empty calories.

Some things to consider before cutting out alcohol in hopes it will benefit your weight loss

While cutting out alcohol for a month can create a calorie deficit it can also play games with your mindset. For some individuals cutting out alcohol may lead to a greater chance of binging after the month of abstaining is over. These effects are similar to someone who goes on a diet for a set amount of time only to binge on all the foods they avoided after the diet is over. Consider how you've approached diets and health challenges in the past. Are you someone who finds it motivating to make temporary changes in your eating and activity?

Make sure to think through what a dry January would look like for you and what you'd like to see happen when you do resume drinking.

How much of a calorie savings can you expect from cutting out alcohol?

The average alcoholic beverage contains between 125-300 calories per serving with wine being lower in calories than most other alcoholic drinks. To learn more about what constitutes a serving or "drink" check out this MyNetDiary blog post. If you consider yourself a "moderate drinker," which is defined by the Dietary Guidelines as up to 2 drinks per day for men and up to one drink per day for women, the calories add up. For a man who consumes 2 alcoholic drinks per day this translates to an extra 2,800 calories consumed per week. For a woman consuming 1 alcoholic drink per day this translates to an extra 1,400 calories consumed per week. If you couple these extra liquid calories with holiday eating (high calorie appetizers and desserts) you quickly have a recipe for weight gain. Alcohol also indirectly impacts your energy balance. Many people notice that when they are drinking they "let their guard down," which can translate to eating foods they'd normally avoid or eating larger portions without realizing it. The bottom line is this: Cutting out alcohol for a month is a straight-forward strategy to jump-start your weight loss. No meal planning or special diet plans required!

Dry January makes those early morning workouts that much easier...

Research shows that alcohol consumption negatively impacts sleep. Alcohol may make you feel drowsy causing you to fall asleep faster. However you won't sleep as well. Alcohol blocks REM or restorative sleep thus you don't get in as many high quality Zzs. Less REM leaves you feeling tired and unfocused in the morning. Cutting out alcohol can help improve the quality of your sleep, allowing you to feel more energized and potentially more productive the next day. Then you won't be as tempted to press the snooze button and instead may have an easier time making it to that 6 am work out class!

Time for reflection- A health benefit of a dry January

What role does alcohol play in your life? Do you find that your social life revolves around eating and drinking? Do you use alcohol as a coping mechanism to manage the ups and downs of life? Giving up alcohol for a month provides some space for reflection around how alcohol has been fitting into your life and how it aligns with your values. A dry January may be just the reminder you need to realize that you don't need a drink to have fun or decompress or enjoy your weekend. Avoiding alcohol allows you the chance to truly decide what you want your relationship with alcohol to look like and practice handling different situations where alcohol is being served and you are choosing a different option.

Low calorie non alcoholic options

Want to keep up with your weight loss while cutting out alcohol? Try these low to no calorie beverage options-

There are many potential health benefits of a dry January. Whether you are looking for a way to jump start your weight loss or want to step back and examine the role alcohol has been playing in your life. You just might find you have more energy, are more productive and feel better overall.

On the other hand, if you are struggling with alcohol and are finding it hard to quit drinking, support exists!

Here are some options for professional help:

Have a happy and safe new year!

Holidays / Parties->New Year's
Dec 30, 2019
Joanna Kriehn
Joanna Kriehn, MS, RDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

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