Weight Loss NHS
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Can I continue to drink alcohol if I want to lose weight?

Hi all. Basically I've decided it's got to a point where I really need to start losing weight. I'm 20 years old, 5'11" and 17 stone. Yes, I'm obese. I've started and failed diets countless amounts of times and it's really starting to affect my life.

I know cutting out alcohol (or at least cutting down) is something that needs to be done when trying to lose weight, but I don't want to have to stop drinking... I enjoy a drink on the weekends with my friends and I enjoy going to the pub for a pint occasionally and I know there's no "low-cal" alternative to alcohol so I'm not really sure what to do. I also shy away from going to the gym because I'm embarrassed of my appearance. I need to change my mindset and become more confident in my appearance but I'm just too self-conscious...

I'm currently attempting my 29879th diet and bloody-well hope I can actually stick to it this time and not go back to binge eating. I am tempted to get a bike and go on bike rides instead of going to gym as I'd find this more enjoyable - Would people recommend doing this?

Also - I need to find more interesting recipes to make with chicken. I find myself making a chicken salad almost every night because I don't really know what else to make and it's getting rather boring...

19 Replies

Hi there.

I've been on and off diets for many years.

I would strongly recommend having a look at the 5:2 diet.

It allows for a few "days off" every week.

It's not a quick fix, but a lifestyle change.

I m not saying buy the book, but just go to the 5:2 diet website. It all started with a uk doctor on the BBC.

Worth a look......x


Have you heard of the 5:2 Diet? Basically you eat normally for five days out of seven and on two non-consecutive days a week you eat only 500 calories (600 for men).

This is based on an excellent BBC Horizon programme that aired in August 2012 called "Eat, Fast and Live Longer" (www.vimeo.com/54089463) and then a subsequent book by Kate Harrison called The 5:2 Diet (it's also on Kindle). There are some excellent supportive Facebook groups for 5:2 dieters and men have reported some outstanding results.

Now you know yourself that alcohol is high in empty calories but you're not going to want to sit there nursing a glass of water whilst your friends are enjoying their pints - but as long as you have your two 'fasting' days and don't go crazy at the pub you will lose weight.

As for exercise, why not try to walk as much as possible? I bought myself the cheapest Fitbit, the Zip, and wear it 24/7. It encourages me to walk rather than get on buses etc, and to walk around as much as possible during the day.


Thanks gypsydepp!!!



I used this as a plan,not a diet to change my eating habits and quantities. if you are prone to binging the 5:2 may not be for you as I find if I get too hungry I binge.

Nothing is actually banned on the plan as long as its calorie counted and there is advice on the site about healthy eating etc. BUT you will have to count in your calories from beer and thats quite a lot. You should certainly not ditch food and replace the calorie allowance from with beer.

Why not start walking? It would save buying a bike, and then maybe graduate on to a bike. I was dubious about going to the gym as I am nearly 59 and was not happy with my body shape. I found there were people there of all shapes, sizes and ages and it was fine. The exercise has changed my body shape for the better.

Google some recipes.

Good luck and keep looking at this forum for encouragement and ideas.


The alternative to calorie counting is to look at 'low carb' eating. It means cutting down on carbohydrates a lot, and eating good quality protein, fat and veg. It doesn't suit everyone but it can work well.


Unfortunately alcohol disrupts your metabolism, so you need to monitor how much you drink and see what effect it is having on your weight.


Hello Penel.... I have had a lot of success (don't want to tempt fate!!) with the low carb high protein diet, and have lost 3 stone (18 kg) this year now - and for the FIRST TIME EVER for one whole year have lost very slowly (as don't wish to deprive myself too much, having turned 70 last Sept.)...

Re drinking alcohol - I have found that I cannot have more than 2 glasses of wine (at a special party) and then need several glasses of water inbetween these - otherwise the results are DIRE. I told my GP that I felt tipsy after half a pint of lager - and he said he could not understand why, as my medication did not contraindicate a couple of drinks!!!!!!! It was a friend who said - YOU HAVE NOTHING IN YOUR TUMMY TO SOAK UP THE ALCOHOL - AND THAT'S WHY YOU GET BLOTTO SO QUICKLY!! So, thank you for this bit of info and link also, as clearly the metabolism would be affected. HAPPY CHRISTMAS, M x


I came across this problem when I cut out all sugar. The only solution seemed to be to drink neat vodka. The problem with that is I only get to about three drinks before I shout 'sod the diet, let's do shots!'

I have very little memory of anything after that declaration on the two nights out I've had since I've been dieting!

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I've lost weight by calorie counting and exercise. I find that by allowing yourself a treat (in my case chocolate and the occasional glass of wine) I don't crave it as much whereas when you deny yourself something you end up wanting it more and then binge eating which brings on guilt etc etc. With regard to exercise its case of finding what suits you so try different things. Regarding the gym, I understand you may feel self conscious but my advice is just go for it. You're there to make changes for you and your body so once you get into a regular routine you'll start to feel so much better and gradually less worried about it. Good luck!

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I've also lost weight by calorie counting and exercise. Since drink = calories I decided to give up alcohol completely until I was down to a respectable weight. An incentive that worked for me.

BTW Don't go the low-cal route, plain water is far better.

Try home made Chicken curry; Indian, Thai, Chinese, BBQ, stir fry with noodles or black/brown/long grain, pilau etc. with fresh ingredients, nothing bought in and processed.

Have fun.



Actually, I think if I were you I wouldn't do another 'diet' as such.

However, I would strongly recommend you take control of what you eat and drink and start dealing with the excess weight that you are carrying around 24/7 and all the health consequences of that.

I'd suggest the Secret Eater type approach - I don't know if you ever saw the programmes on Channel 4 a while back.

You seem to need to learn and understand just what you are eating and drinking that is causing you to be so overweight.

My advice - for what it's worth - is:

*if you have any underlying medical issues talk with your GP (or other medical professional) about how those conditions (and medications you take for them) might impinge upon your weight loss efforts and vice versa.

* have a good read around the NHS live well lose weight web pages, including the 12 week plan, for good free advice about losing weight.

*keep a food diary and record EVERYTHING you eat/drink. You need to be brutally honest and nothing, absolutely nothing, that you eat or drink is to be omitted from it. Yes the pints, yes the lattes, yes the sauces, gravies, toppings, etc., etc.

*Aim to lose weight moderately, a maximum of about 2 lbs a week on average. You may lose weight faster than that at the beginning.

* set yourself a goal and understand why YOU want to do it, whatever reason or purpose pushes your buttons. Also, set yourself some milestones / mini-goals to tick off as you go.

*Don't see it as an event, see it as a journey. A journey of re-learning how to relate to food so that you reach - and stay - at a sensible healthy weight. Re-train yourself away from the bad eating and exercixe/activity habits that have left you obese, and into new healthy, sensible eating habits that will keep you in a sensible and appropriate size and weight of body.

*Change you eating for the better. Cut out excessive fats and sugars, eat more fruit and veg and fish and take control of your portions.

*Until you reach your target weight, give up or seriously reduce you intake of alcohol (the drinkaware web-site for more info about alcohol and diet).

*Get on the weight loss bus - and start the journey to a lighter, slimmer body that it'll be so much easier to move around in (as you won't have to cart around all those 'extra' kilos).

Good luck with your weight loss journey - believe me it is so well worth it.


Very good advice. I started with NHS (hence my nickname) and find it easy. I had tried different diets, was miserable and put on weight as soon as I stopped. Now I enjoy cooking and counting calories. I eat really well, am full, and am losing weight. How about that! I only drink wine if we have visitors or going out to friends places as I do not want to be a wet blanket, but I put ice cubes in my wine and have water in between. I may have four glasses but in reality it is just two. I also gave up most sugar to stop my pains and aches and it works with my weight loss and feeling wonderful. I think learning about healthy eating and getting used to a good routine will help me in the long run when I have reached my target weight.


Hi Dan:

I was 18+ stone last Feb and could hardly walk!!!!!!!!! I was really panicking as this was the highest for me ever - although always yoyo-ing around 16-17stone.. but as I write, I am now 15st 5lb. I have not deprived myself, and feel really good!! So good, that I don't fancy chocolates or alcohol...

Since I joined this site I received a great deal of information and tips from various pple here, and then decided to try the low carb high protein eating regime / or low carb low protein regime!!

And keeping a food diary as Doikosp suggests is an excellent suggestion.

But as you ask about alcohol - do read Penel's msg and my response to her.. For me now, even ONE glass of wine gets me blotto almost immediately. What about slimline tonic or tomato juice? I see you're only 20, so might feel out of things with your mates ...But it will really be worth it! Best of luck! M x

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...but vodka, slimline tonic and ice is probably the least fattening

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hi dan im on the tescos ulta slim shakes 2 shakes through the day and a healthy meal at night it takes a week for your body to get used i was drinking a few bottkes of red winex in the week as was hungery so took my mind of been hungery i know its mad but i like my drink i lost 4 pounds in a week so waiting till monday to get weighed again.. i put my husband on to and he likes his johnsmiths and drinking through the week we dont drink every night 3 times a week but week 1 he lost 6 pounds in weight i was totally shocked so we are still going to have a drink as we love our drink cant cut everthing out or u would get bored and we have a takaway on a saturday to hope this helps


Hi Dan, I've found that I've had to give up alcohol to get healthy and trim (not there yet). Other people might be able to balance having one or two a week but that doesn't work for me. There are some low calorie wines on the shelves so they might be worth looking at, don't know if you can get them in pubs though.

I'm finding the five-two diet is working for me, but I am sticking to a very healthy food plan on the five days. On the two days I stay clear of bread and some fruits.

Walking and cycling are great forms of exercise which don't involve a gym. Swimming is also great.

Probably changing your mind set to "healthy food plan" rather than "diet" will help.

Three great books I use a lot are the Heart Foundations "Deliciously Healthy" Cookbook, "Delicious Vegetarian" and "You are what you eat - meal planner that will change your life". All books are full of great easy recipes. The first book is particularly helpful as it gives you a break down on the nutrients per serve and how many calories you're eating.

Good luck, you can do this.


Hi - would recommend g and t with slim line tonic as good and much lower in calories than beer and you can alternate with just tonic too - have plenty if ice and lemon / lime - also not sure how many calories are in Bavaria nil alcohol in it. But I am realia lay informed it really tastes and looks like beer ! Yes bike rides are great fun - and of course you can tuck your self into the gym on a bike - put on some sounds and the time goes so quick - as for the chicken have you tried the cooking bags you throw in fillet loads of veg and the seasoning sachet and pop in oven and voila tasty food -also tofu /quorn really good and low in fat with sweet and sour sauce -yum -loads veg too - wish you good luck and will blog soon - marathon girl


Alcohol is full of calories . One glass of white wine I think is around the 130 cal and a pint is worse so whatever you may lose during the week you will gain it back with drinks with your friends. Alternate drinks with a glass of water and forget the nibbles. Then think what is more important to you: fat and unhealthy drinking alcohol or slimmer and fit with just the occasional alcohol drink? Perhaps whenever you decide to have a few drinks make it an habit to have extra exercises the next day to make up for it.


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