Alcohol on Nutrisystem: Everything You Need to Know

Article posted in: Guides

Big news: You can enjoy a drink at parties and happy hours or when relaxing at home and still stay on track with your weight loss. At Nutrisystem, we want to do more than help you shed excess pounds now—we’re focused on giving you the tools to live well for the rest of your life. And we understand that at times you’d like a glass of wine, a beer or a cocktail. So our expert nutritionists came up with a few simple guidelines and smart suggestions to help you incorporate a little alcohol into your healthy lifestyle without wrecking your weight loss progress.

Before we get into the specifics of what and how much to drink, let’s start with an explanation of how alcohol affects your body, especially when you’re trying to lose weight.

How Alcohol Affects the Body and Weight Loss

“When you consume alcohol, your body stops other processes and makes the first priority removing the alcohol from your system,” says Courtney McCormick, Nutrisystem’s Corporate Dietitian. “Your body temporarily alters metabolic pathways to stop burning fat and burn the calories from alcohol instead.”

Further, when the processes used to get blood sugar into your system are altered, it can lead to low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia. On the other hand, “alcoholic drinks with lots of sugar can have the opposite effect and increase your blood sugar rapidly, a temporary effect that is then followed by a sharp decrease,” McCormick adds.

No wonder we advise you to consume alcohol with caution, right? Well, despite the changes that alcohol may have on your body’s metabolic processes, alcohol can still fit into a healthy lifestyle and your weight loss plan if you just follow few simple guidelines. So before you go dumping out your drink, know this: You can still enjoy the occasional drink without any long-term effects on your weight loss.

7 Healthy Tips for Enjoying Alcohol on Nutrisystem

1. Right Choices

Red wine and beer

Whether you like wine, beer or liquor, choose the options with the least amount of sugar and calories. This is the best alcohol for dieting. Stick to drier wines, such as Merlot and Chardonnay, and avoid sweeter (dessert-type) wines. Go for low-carb alcohol like light beer, which tends to be lower than standard varieties in alcohol content as well as calories. Looking for the lowest calorie liquor? Gin, vodka, rum, tequila, scotch and bourbon have roughly similar amounts of calories (around 100 per 1.5-ounce serving), but steer clear of flavored varieties, which often contain added sugar and calories.

Try these 10 low-calorie beers that actually taste good! >

2. Proper Portion

Glass of Chardonnay White Wine

Just like with your food, you want to pay close attention to portion size when you have a drink. A serving of wine is about four ounces (half cup). “I recommend actually measuring out this amount to really see what it looks like, since we often pour ourselves a much larger serving,” McCormick advises. A serving of beer is 12 ounces—the amount in standard bottles and cans. “If you order by the pint glass, this would be about three-fourths of the way full,” she says. One shot—or one and a half ounces—is one serving of liquor.

3. Mix Light

proper portion

When drinking liquor, stay away from cocktails made with high-calorie mixers. A Cosmopolitan or a Margarita, for example, can have more than twice as many calories as plain vodka or tequila. Instead, make your drink with seltzer and lemon or lime juice. To put a little fizz in a glass of wine and make it last a bit longer, add calorie-free seltzer to it.

Looking for some low-calorie alcoholic drinks? Check out these eight lightened-up cocktails! >

4. Mind Your Limit

healthy alcohol portion for weight loss

“It typically takes about one hour for your body to process an alcoholic drink, so the change in your metabolism will not be permanent and will most likely not be significant on halting your weight loss efforts if you limit yourself,” McCormick says. Nutrisystem recommends a maximum of two servings of alcohol per week. “Spread them out,” she says, “so you don’t have them on the same day.”

5. Pair with Food

healthy happy hour alcohol

To minimize the impact on your blood sugar, eat one of your meals or snacks while you sip. The best foods to eat with alcohol are high in protein and fiber to help stabilize your blood sugar. “If you are going out to eat and intend to have a drink, plan out the foods you will order in advance so you are not tempted by high-calorie items on the menu,” McCormick says. “For example, pair your drink at happy hour with a flex snack of hummus, cheeses and veggies rather than the loaded French fries.” At home, enjoy your favorite Nutrisystem dinner, which provides the perfect combination of fiber and protein, with a glass of wine or beer.

6. Rehydrate Yourself

alcohol and rehydrate for health

Alcohol is a natural diuretic, drawing moisture out of your body and leaving you dehydrated, which can further slow your metabolism. Plus, it’s easy to confuse thirst with hunger, which can lead to overeating. You can prevent that by drinking a glass of water before and after you have alcohol. At a party, sip on seltzer with a lemon wedge and no one will notice you’re not drinking a cocktail as you rehydrate.

7. When to Say No

healthy amounts of alcohol

You should pass on a drink during the first week of your Nutrisystem program. Also remember, “never drink on an empty stomach,” McCormick says.

You can stay healthy while still enjoying a drink. Just be careful what you choose, stick to proper portions and keep it in moderation.

That’s all you need to remember about enjoying an occasional drink as you lose weight with the Nutrisystem plan. Cheers!

Haven’t taken the steps to start your journey with Nutrisystem? Get started today! >