Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Is Drinking Alcohol On Low-Carb Okay?

Is there a prohibition on drinking when you are livin' la vida low-carb?

Let me state up front that I am not a drinker. Well, yeah, I drink lots of water and diet soda, but I choose to refrain from drinking any alcoholic beverages.

My reasoning for this decision is plain and simple -- it goes against my moral beliefs that drinking alcohol is wrong based on my religious upbringing about what God would have me to do with my body.

Thinking about my view of drinking alcohol, it is a shame my position on that subject couldn't have been applied to all those years of sinful gluttony I engaged in with food that made me become obese, but that's a subject for another day! :-~

One of my readers wrote me an e-mail today and wanted to know what I thought about drinking alcohol while on the low-carb lifestyle. Since I am not a drinker, I don't have any firsthand knowledge of what effect drinking beer, wine, or champagne would have on the body when you are losing weight on low-carb.

While there are certainly many "low-carb" versions of beer and other adult drinks on the market, I would think the same rule would apply to anything you put in your mouth -- READ THE LABELS and don't allow yourself to go over your daily carb limit.

Here was her e-mail to me:

Hi Jimmy,

I've been battling getting rid of excess weight for 2 years. I had previously started low-carb, but then got scared off by 'do gooders' telling me it's so bad.

When I started reading your blog, though, it made me realize that this is the right lifestyle choice for me. I am able to stick to 30-40g of carbs without suffering or being hungry and I hope to see my weight drop doing this.

But I have one problem -- my husband and I live a very social life and there are lots of drinking events we like to attend. The problem is that I like to drink socially. Considering that alcohol is low in carbs and if I count each drop that I drink, am I allowed to consume alcohol and still lose weight? Or will alcohol slow down or stall my weight loss? Do you have any advice?

You have really encouraged me - thank you so much.

And here's to living la vida low-carb.

Cheers, my friend, and thank you for writing and sharing your kind comments with me. She has some great questions, doesn't she?

Here was my response:

THANK YOU for contacting me today and for sharing your question with me. It's a good one to ask and I am so glad you did. Let me attempt to answer it for you.

As a nondrinker, I don't have any firsthand knowledge of what effect alcohol consumption has when you are losing weight on low-carb. However, in my research for my book, I learned that drinking alcohol dehydrates your body and can cause it to become extremely thirsty. This thirst is sometimes misinterpreted as hunger and the body can begin craving sugar for example.

But I think as long as you keep a very close eye on the number of carbohydrates you are putting in your mouth and drinking just a few glasses of your favorite low-carb alcoholic beverage, then you should be fine with that.

Again, I personally would NOT drink, but that's a choice I have made for myself. Just like anything else, be careful about letting the drinking get out of control. Just like sugar and other carbs, alcohol can be very enticing when you are given just a taste of it. Know your own limits and don't allow yourself to go overboard.

Remember your goal of losing weight and let that drive you to do everything you can to get there. If you notice your weight is not coming off like you expected, then back off on the drinking for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference.

It'll be up to you which is more important -- losing weight or drinking. But it is quite possible the two can be compatible with each other as long as you keep the right balance.

THANKS again for writing and God bless you in your low-carb lifestyle!

The bottom line is this: DON'T LET ANYTHING STAND IN THE WAY OF YOUR SUCCESS! If something is causing you to falter, whether it is that sugary snack, the lack of desire to exercise, or alcohol, then make the necessary CHANGE immediately to see the results you want.

There is just no excuse good enough to allow any hindrance to be a stumbling block when you are trying to lose weight. If you BELIEVE you can ACHEIVE, then you will!

Gotta burning question for me? Drop me a line anytime at


Blogger Jeff Hamlin said...

Romans 14 is what I live by in regards to this issue. On occasion I do enjoy a beer or mixed beverage. I do not shove my beliefs on anyone. =)

3/15/2006 10:10 PM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Alcohol is actually a preferred fuel for the body and is very easily converted into energy. The effect of consumption of alcohol while you are in ketosis is that you immediately drop out of ketosis UNTIL the alcohol is burned off - that can be rather quickly. Then you drop INTO ketosis again - immediately.

Hence, it's very possible to have some alcohol, but remain careful. I would personally prefer high-quality red wine (which is heart-healthy too thanks to the tannine in it)


3/15/2006 11:22 PM  
Blogger Lowcarb_dave said...

Just remember, when you consume alcohol, no matter what diet you do, the body will burn alcohol as a preference fuel to fat or carbs.

So whilst you are burning alcohol calories, you will not be burning any fat stores.

My belief is that alcohol should be left for maintenance, or if you indulge in it - very occasionally have the odd glass of apporved drinks.

That being said I am a non-drinker. Purely by choice. I've never liked the taste of it, or how it makes my body feel.

3/15/2006 11:26 PM  
Blogger Lowcarb_dave said...

Darn, science4u1959 - you beat me to it!!

3/15/2006 11:27 PM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

I did manage to lose 60 pounds without giving up my nightly glass of wine, but it probably did slow my weight loss down. I also occationally drink lite beer, but mostly I'm a wine girl. :)

3/16/2006 1:14 AM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Cheers, Dave (hick) :)

3/16/2006 6:35 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Actuually, it isn't the tannins in red wine that is thought to provide the health benefit, it's resveratrol, which comes from the skins of the grape (see for more).

That said, hard liquors tend to have less carbs than do beer or wine and so are a better choice if you want to drink and do low-carb.

But IMO, anyone trying to lose weight would drink sparingly. Your liver is a pretty critical organ in terms of fat and sugar metabolism...the more you drink, the harder the job is for your liver.

3/16/2006 8:53 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

"READ THE LABELS" won't help for 99% of the spirited beverages on the market today. To make a long story short (in the USA), the government doesn't require a nutritional analysis statment on any alcoholic beverage that isn't considered "low-carb."

If you want the carb counts of more than 1000 regular beers, 400 wines, and 200 mixed drinks, stop by

Moderation is the key, not deprivation.

3/16/2006 9:20 AM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

I agree with Bob. I use FitDay and it gives counts for several alcoholic baverages in terms of carbs and calories. His site reference looks good, too.

3/16/2006 8:43 PM  
Blogger Spunkey said...

You got the point, Bob. Moderation is the key.
Another problem is, I quote BodyTweaking:
" 1. Alcohol is a cell poison. That is why it is used for disinfection. For your precious muscles to grow, your body needs to create more new cells. The cell generation process slows down, stops or even goes backwards (cells dying) depending on how much poison you have in your blood stream. [...]
So, it is kind of the worst thing you could do while on a weight loss diet: While killing your muscles that help you burn more fat, you store even more fat because of alcohol.

It's not only about calories, but other effects of alcohol. So go easy on it!


3/19/2006 7:35 AM  
Blogger Tudor said...

Bob, you couldn't have said it better: "Moderation is the key" or as drug detox activists say it in one word: narconon, say NO to drugs, Narco-NON, and although legal, alcohol is an addictive drug.

8/13/2007 4:34 AM  

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