7 Reasons to Give Up Alcohol for a Month

You might know people who have embarked on a “Dry January” to counteract the effects of an overly festive holiday season, but why put the brakes on alcohol this time of year? No matter what the month, a brief alcohol cleanse is always good for your system. Here are seven reasons why you should think about taking a walk on the dry side.

When you’re hanging out at your favorite watering hole with your buddies, it can be easy to forget how many calories you’re consuming – especially if you’re not a calorie counter to begin with. Alcohol is sneaky like that. If you’re a beer drinker, the average 12-ounce bottle contains approximately 150 calories. If you like your wine, it’s been said that a large glass of red has just as many calories as a slice of takeaway pizza. Or how about a tropical pina colada when on vacation? That might run you as much as 490 calories, most of which are from sugar. This might just seem like a bunch of random numbers, but these figures quickly add up when you’re trying to trim down or etch some abs. That’s why alcohol is one of the first things nutritionists recommend curtailing if your goal is to lose weight. Not only do these extra calories threaten your waistline, they’re usually “empty” – meaning they offer zero nutritional value.

What typically goes with drinking? That’s right … eating. When you’re out at a bar or even staying in, your favorite drink likely has you reaching for more food, and typically not the healthy kind. Usually it’s greasy appetizers and other comfort foods that we crave when we’re drinking. According to a study entitled “Diets of Drinkers on Drinking and Non-Drinking Days,” alcohol is one of the biggest drivers of excess food intake. Some scientists speculate that this is because alcohol heightens our senses – such as our smell of food – making us enjoy food more than we typically might. Even a slight buzz can make us focus on the immediate gratification (i.e. how good that food tastes) versus our long-term goals (i.e. staying heathy and in shape). So what kind of numbers are we talking about? A report in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that men consume an additional 433 calories on days when they drink a “moderate” amount of alcohol. For women, it’s 300 calories.

How often do you think about the health of your liver? Probably not much, right? But as one of your body’s most important organs, your liver deserves all the love it can get. It plays a significant role in all metabolic processes in your body, including helping to turn food/fuel to energy. If you are regularly drinking alcohol in excess, you can negatively impact the way your liver processes fat, resulting in more fat cells that can cause inflammation, leading to liver disease. Liver disease can lead to toxin and waste build-ups in the body, and, in extreme cases, can become life-threatening. By giving up or cutting back on drinking, you can decrease the amount of fat in your liver, a precursor to liver damage. While women tend to have a higher risk of developing alcohol-related liver disease, don’t think you’re off the hook. Men should be on guard for it too.

Do you ever wish you could go back in time just to sleep like a baby? Many of us struggle to get the recommended seven to eight hours of shut-eye per night, and alcohol doesn’t exactly improve our odds. A wide range of research has been conducted on the effects of alcohol and sleep, and the general takeaway is this: While drinking can help you fall asleep faster and more deeply, you are more likely to have a poorer-quality sleep the rest of the night when you consume even small amounts before bed. You’ll be more prone to tossing and turning, will wake up more often, and of course, will feel more dehydrated when morning hits. Alcohol can also increase your heart rate and cause night sweats, which are more of a nuisance than something to be worried about. Even if you proudly claim to not need much sleep, you probably don’t realize what you’re missing out on. A more sound, undisturbed sleep can improve your mood, concentration, and mental performance. It’s also directly linked to energy levels, which are critical if you’re trying to hit the gym more often.

Drinking – especially if you’ve got expensive taste or like to do it frequently – can put a serious dent in your budget. Take a moment and mentally calculate how many drinks you consume each week, whether at home or while out on the town. You might also want to add up how many drinks you purchase for guests or friends. Don’t forget to factor in taxes and tips. Do the numbers surprise you? As with other small habits like buying a daily coffee or going out for lunch throughout your work week, seemingly small expenses can really add up over time. By going alcohol-free for a full 30 days, you’ll have more money to spare for that new piece of tech (or whatever else floats your boat) that you’ve been eyeing up online.

Think aging skin is just a female issue? Think again. As we all age, our skin starts to lose its elastic tissue (elastin), leading to looser, duller-looking skin. While we can’t turn back the hands of time, we can make simple lifestyle changes that will improve the overall look and feel of our skin. These changes include eating healthier, getting more rest, drinking more water, and …  you guessed it … cutting back on alcohol. The odd drink here or there isn’t going to add years to your appearance, but alcohol does dehydrate your skin and can deprive it of vital vitamins and nutrients. If you want a more handsome, youthful-looking complexion, embrace this 30-day drink-free challenge and see how your skin thanks you.

This benefit is purely emotional. Think about it … When was the last time you set a lifestyle goal and stuck to it? It takes mental discipline to see a challenge through, especially when it means changing your everyday habits. Most people give up as soon as temptation comes their way. Want proof? According to a research study from the University of Scranton, a whopping 92% of people don’t achieve their New Year’s goals! If you’re able to give up your favorite bevvies for an entire month, you’ll be more than just healthier for it. You’ll feel the pride that comes with beating the odds.

About the Author: Nicole Kepic

Nicole Kepic is a fitness & nutrition expert who specializes in health, wellness, and lifestyle writing. She has also had articles published in a variety of fitness and bodybuilding magazines. When she’s not busy writing for her clients, Nicole is either keeping active with her family or dreaming of her next sunny vacation. www.nicolekepic.com

Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.