SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- Alcohol can cause weight gain in four ways: it stops your body from burning fat, it's high in kilojoules, it can make you feel hungry , and it can lead to poor food choices.
- Whether or not you will gain weight from alcohol depends on what you drink, how much you drink, how often you drink, what you eat when you drink, and your unique body and lifestyle.
- Drinking alcohol - particularly in excessive amounts - has many other serious health risks beyond possible weight gain, including high blood pressure, high triglycerides, insulin resistance, heart disease, stroke, liver disease and some cancers.
- 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 it's 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 often you drink
- how much 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
- your health -- for example the presence of other risk factors such as obesity and diabetes.
But remember, - particularly in excessive amounts - has many other serious health risks beyond possible weight gain, including , increased , , , 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.
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, high , insulin resistance, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and some cancers.
- There is no safe level of alcohol during pregnancy.
Where to get help
- Manton E 2013, Alcohol and obesity: A systematic review scoping study, Centre for Alcohol Policy Research. .
- Toffolo MCF, Aguiar-Nemer AS, and Silve-Fonseca VA 2012, 'Alcohol: effects on nutritional status, lipid profile and blood pressure' Journal of endocrinology and metabolism, vol 2, no 6, pp. 205-211. .
- Baliunas DO, Taylor BJT, Irving H and Roerecke M 2009, 'Alcohol as a risk factor for Type 2 Diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis', Diabetes care, vol. 39, no. 11, pp. 2123--32. .