Is it advisable to completely stop drinking alcohol if I want to lose weight? I’ve noticed people who do drop weight quickly. Can I lose weight without giving up alcohol?

For many people, going alcohol-free for the month of January is viewed as a way to recover from December’s excesses and, in the process, lose a few pounds.

It can also help jump-start other healthy habits, such as eating better and exercising more.

Whether giving up alcohol for 31 days, though, will speed up weight loss depends on how much you already imbibe. Abstaining may help you reach your weight goal faster, or it might not make a difference at all.

Calories in cocktails

Alcohol adds calories to your diet – calories that many people don’t think about as part of their daily intake and don’t compensate for by eating less food.

One gram of pure alcohol – there are 14 to 15 of them in five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of 4-per-cent beer and 1.5 ounces of 40-per-cent spirits – delivers seven calories, almost twice as much as a gram of carbohydrate and close to the nine found in a single gram of fat.

Five ounces of wine (red or white) delivers 122 calories, 12 ounces of regular beer has 110 to 200 (the higher the alcohol content, the higher the calories) and 1.5 ounces of 40-per-cent spirits supply 100.

If your go-to cocktails are made with sugary mixes such as syrup, liqueur, fruit juice, pop or Red Bull, the calories can really pile up.

Consider these numbers: gin and tonic (8 ounces), 170 calories; Cosmopolitan (3.5 ounces), 210 calories, margarita (3.5 ounces), 255 calories; Caesar (12 ounces), 260 calories.

Most people don’t equate drinking two cocktails to eating a McDonald’s double cheeseburger (420 calories) or a Big Mac (520 calories).

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