Drinking and Dieting: How Much is Too Much?

When you're committed to losing weight and getting healthy, refraining from drinking alcohol may be one of your long-term goals. Drinking alcohol can sabotage your diet because most forms of alcohol contain high amounts of sugar and calories; drinking can also make you vulnerable for overeating when you aren't making conscious decisions on what to eat.


Still, some diet plans do allow the occasional glass of wine with dinner or a bottle of low-calorie beer, as long as it stays within your calorie quota for the day. Is drinking while dieting a smart strategy? Here's what you need to know:

Alcohol and Your Diet

When you're trying to decide whether alcohol is a healthy addition to your diet, there are several things to consider. First, the type or form of alcohol you drink plays an important role in absorption and metabolism; alcohol is a form of simple sugar, and cocktail drinks made with vodka, rum and gin are typically absorbed and processed very quickly. These drinks are also full of calories and can easily put you over your daily caloric limit. The only way to slow down absorption is to eat a significant amount of carbohydrate and fat before you drink; for most people on a diet, this is not a sensible addition to the daily menu.

Alcohol can also prevent you from losing weight, simply because your body ends up spending a lot of energy trying to rid itself of the toxins after you drink. Since alcohol dehydrates the body, you can slow down your metabolism and reduce the chances of actually losing weight.


Do You Have to Eliminate Drinking While Dieting?

Drinking alcohol while dieting doesn't always lead to diet sabotage, but it does put you at risk for eating more and overdoing the calories for the day. However, there are some "safe" choices of alcoholic beverages when you're dieting.

A glass of white wine contains between 60 and 80 calories per serving and can be a light, refreshing alcoholic beverage. Add a splash of diet lemon-lime soda to cut calories even more.

A glass of red wine or red wine spritzers contain less than 100 calories per serving and can be a nice complement to dinner.

Try a vodka tonic. Diet tonic water does not contain any calories, and one shot of vodka contains less than 100 calories per serving.

Give a Cuba Libre a chance. Diet Coke does not contain any calories, and one shot of rum contains approximately 110 calories.


Mojitos are a sweet and tasty drink made with fresh mint, lime juice, sugar and light rum. The typical Mojito contains about 160 calories and can be a somewhat healthy addition to a meal.

Most forms of light beer contain less than 100 calories per serving but still have the same taste as their regular versions.

Drinking alcohol while dieting can be risky and may not be a wise choice when you are trying to cut back your caloric intake and get healthy. While some diet plans allow you to drink alcohol once or twice per week, you may need to eliminate alcohol completely to get the best results with your weight loss program and keep your diet on track.