Alcohol is categorically forbidden from most diet plans -- and understandably so. There are countless ways that drinking can put the kibosh on your weight loss efforts. According to registered dietitian Christen Cooper, alcohol serves up the sort of hidden calories, dehydration and junk food binges that can derail even the most strong-willed dieters.
That said, giving up giggle juice altogether can seriously cramp one's style. Nobody's looking to get wasted here. But going cold turkey? We're too attached to our weekly happy hours and vino-accompanied dinners .
Luckily we did some major #realtalk with a few trustworthy dieticians and fitness experts to find out some unexpected hacks for drinking on a diet. If you're looking to shed some LBs without surrendering your social life, you're among friends. Just follow these eight pro tips.
Sweat Off Your Hangover
Warner says that a long night of drinking robs your body of a chemical called Human Growth Hormone (HGH), which plays an integral role in building and repairing muscle. HGH usually gets to work while you snooze, but the wonky sleep patterns caused by drinking bring that process to a screeching halt.
In addition, that fourth or fifth cocktail also throws off your body's water balance, inhibiting your muscles from producing ATP, or muscle energy, adds Warner. The result? You are rendered completely incapable of lifting anything.
The Boozy Solution: The best thing you can do for your hangover and your weight loss plan is cardio. You're too energy-depleted for weight training. However, Lori Kenyon Farley, certified nutritional consultant and co-founder of Project Juice, says that raising your heart rate gets your metabolism moving, which is not only good for your waistline, but helps your body process the alcohol faster.
"Sweating may also increase your thirst, which leads to more water consumption," says Farley. This will ultimately combat dehydration -- a major reason for your hangover. Try taking a brisk walk outside or, if you're up for it, a spin class. You'll cure your hangover and get in a workout all at once.
Hack the Fat-Burning Process
"Your body treats alcohol like a toxin," explains board-certified weight loss physician and founder of bistroMD Dr. Caroline Cederquist, MD. And our liver is responsible for getting rid of it.
That means when we drink, our liver gets busy processing the toxin, so our body postpones other important functions -- like burning fat, explains Ethel Baumberg, co-founder of Flyaroo Fitness. The faster you drink, the more overwhelmed your liver gets, and the further its fat-burning responsibilities get pushed down on the to-do list.
The Boozy Solution: "Your liver can process approximately one drink per hour," explains Baumberg. So, to stay in sync with your fat-burning processes, wear a cute watch and keep your pace to one drink per hour. Sound a little slow? Check out this sweet hack for how to put the brakes on your drinking pace.
Cool Down to Slow Down
The Boozy Solution: "Ice your drinks," Cooper advises. "Most drinks, especially red wine, are served warmer than they were intended to be imbibed." Icing your drink adds hydration, coolness and enlarges the volume of your drink without upping the calorie content, she explains, meaning it will take longer to finish. "As for ice cubes in red wine, some people turn up their noses, but I do it anyway," she says. "I learned this on my honeymoon in Provence -- even the French chill their reds in the summer."
More of a cocktail gal? Another tip for slowing down your pace is to ditch the sugar. "Sugary drinks [like margaritas and daiquiris] are easier to down, and those can be a problem when you're on a roll," says Baumberg.
"Skip the mixers altogether," recommends corporate dietitian at Medifast, Alexandra Miller, RDN, LDN. Order a spirit or flavored liquor on the rocks -- one that you enjoy sipping. Not only will it curb your pace, you'll earn cred for being badass enough to drink straight liquor.
Make Water Your New Drinking Buddy
The Boozy Solution: Across the board our experts recommend matching a glass of water for every alcoholic beverage. "This will help you pace yourself and keep count of how much you're drinking, while staying more hydrated," says Cederquist.
Go an extra step and make it a glass of sparkling water with lime. "It still looks like an alcoholic drink, but will allow you to hydrate and limit the amount you are really drinking," says Cederquist.
Flavored sparkling water also makes the perfect zero-calorie mixer.