Will drinking alcohol make you gain weight? The answer isn’t as straightforward as you may think.
- The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) conducted a systematic review on alcohol and obesity and found that:
- It is unclear whether alcohol consumption is a risk factor for weight gain because studies performed to date have found positive, negative or no association.
- Where there is a positive association between alcohol and body weight it is more likely to be found in men than in women.
- The present data provide inadequate scientific evidence to assess whether beer intake is associated with general or abdominal obesity.
- When considering beer, where there is a positive association, it is more likely to be for abdominal obesity (abdominal fat around the stomach) than for general obesity for men and women.
So yes, it’s possible to gain weight from alcohol, but not inevitable.
Whether or not you personally gain weight from drinking alcohol depends on many factors. These include:
- your behaviours when you drink
- what you drink
- how you drink
- what you eat when you drink
- factors that relate to your unique body and lifestyle
- your overall diet
- your genetics
- your gender
- your level of physical activity
- your age.
But remember, drinking alcohol – particularly in excessive amounts – has many other serious health risks beyond possible weight gain, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and some cancers. So it’s important to monitor your alcohol consumption as part of a healthy diet, regardless of whether or not you’re managing your weight.
It’s also important for women who are trying to get pregnant, or who are pregnant or breastfeeding, to reduce or cut out alcohol altogether. There is no safe level of alcohol during pregnancy.
If you need to cut down on alcohol, you may find these 10 tips useful.
How alcohol could cause weight gain
While the relationship between alcohol consumption and obesity remains unclear, there are good reasons to think that alcohol may play a role.
- It stops your body from burning fat.
- It is high in kilojoules.
- It leads to greater hunger and less satiety (the feeling of being full).
- It causes poor food choices.
- It is unclear whether alcohol consumption is a risk factor for weight gain.
- Drinking alcohol – particularly in excessive amounts – has many other serious health risks beyond possible weight gain, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and some cancers.
- There is no safe level of alcohol during pregnancy.
Where to get help
This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:
Alcohol and Drug Foundation
Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. Content has been prepared for Victorian residents and wider Australian audiences, and was accurate at the time of publication. Readers should note that, over time, currency and completeness of the information may change. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.