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Dry January: What Are The Health Benefits of "No Drink" January?

By Leslie Barrie Reviewed by Briana Rodriquez, R.D. Science-Backed

Did you partake in your fair share of toasts this holiday season? If so, you’re not alone: The holidays are typically filled with libations — whether that’s red wine with your festive family dinner, cocktails at your company party, or Champagne on New Year’s. While enjoying a couple of drinks may make for fun times, all that alcohol can hinder your weight loss progress


So this January, you might want to jump on the Dry January trend and consider going booze-free for the month. Taking part in “No Drink January” could benefit your health in a number of ways. Though it may seem a little daunting at first, here are five reasons how ditching alcohol could potentially boost your weight loss efforts, improve your overall health and more. After you finish reading, you might want to raise a glass of sparkling water!  

person sanding on scale 

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1. You might lose weight

Alcoholic drinks may not fill you up, but that doesn’t mean they’re low in calories. In fact, a few glasses can add up quite quickly. Here’s the calorie lowdown: a regular 12-ounce beer has 153 calories, 5 ounces of red wine has 125 calories (white comes in at 128 calories), and a vodka tonic cocktail has 189 calories (order something more decadent like a festive hot buttered rum, and you’re looking at 292 calories!).1 And those calorie counts are for a standard serving size — most restaurants and bars tend to pour heavier drinks.  


Not only can alcoholic drinks up your calorie count for the day, which can contribute to weight gain, but there are other potential issues — like hangover repercussions. If you’ve enjoyed one too many drinks the night before, you might not feel as motivated to lace up your sneakers to hit the gym. And regular exercise, along with a healthy diet (the 80/20 rule for weight loss), can help you burn calories and support your weight loss efforts.2


Plus, alcohol may sway you to make unhealthy food choices while drinking — or after. One study found people who drank more were less likely to eat veggies and fruit, and more likely to get their calories from sugar and foods with unhealthy fats.3


So, if you’ve been struggling to stay on track with your weight loss goals, going dry may give you the help you need. 

 

woman sleeping in bed

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2. You might start sleeping better 

Notice that after a few drinks, you sometimes feel drowsy?4 You might think that alcohol can help you sleep sounder — but that’s not the case! Imbibing can actually interfere with deep sleep and throw off your circadian rhythm (your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle), causing you to wake up in the middle of the night. Drinking alcohol can also cause you to take frequent bathroom breaks — which can be disruptive for your slumber, too.4


What’s more, research indicates that a lack of quality sleep might be linked to weight gain and obesity.5 Sleep deprivation can alter chemicals in your brain connected to appetite.5 So avoiding alcohol for a month may help you get better sleep while supporting your weight loss goals.    


With better sleep, you may even start to feel like you have more energy — and who doesn’t want that? 

 

glass jar spilling coins

Photo by Michael Longmire on Unsplash

3. You might save some money 

A glass of red or white at a wine bar could cost you $10, and when you order another round plus tip, you’re looking at a bill that’s over $20. Even if you drink at home, the price of wine, spirits and beer adds up fast. 


Meanwhile, a glass of tap water at a bar is often free (and it’s free at home, too!). Even if you want to take it up a notch with sparkling water, it won’t set you back more than a dollar or two — which is a far cry from a $12 mojito. So, if you take advantage of alcohol-free drinks: Not only will you be doing your waistline a favor, but your wallet will thank you, too. While your friends may ask you to be the designated driver for the night, you’ll get bonus points from them (and from the bartender) for putting safety first!

 

women in fitness gear laughing

Photo by Anchiy on iStock

4. You might be more active 

Do you get together with friends for happy hour every week? Instead of planning your meet-up around alcohol, resolve to make Dry January a more active month. Schedule a group hike, take a spin class together, or sign up for a rock climbing wall session. Here are 5 more reasons to get active with your crew.  


So instead of adding extra calories to your day from alcohol, you’ll be burning them! Plus, you’ll still be able to connect with your friends over something fun (and good for you) while you’re at it.

 

woman man and child laughing together

Photo by skynesher on iStock

5. You might feel better overall 

It may come as a surprise to all those who love their wine or beer, but drinking could have an adverse effect on your health. Research shows that regular, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to various cancers, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and more.6


On the other hand, starting the year off strong with Dry January could have lasting benefits: A study of those who went a month without alcohol found themselves drinking less for the next six months.7 And within the same study, 9 in 10 people saved money, 7 in 10 slept better, and 3 in 5 people lost weight!


So what do you have to lose? Going alcohol-free may help boost your weight loss and potentially even help you feel better from head to toe. Talk about a great, healthy way to kick off the new year!  


Looking to practice other healthy habits in 2020? Jenny Craig can help: Get started on your journey toward better health and weight loss by browsing our delicious menus!

 

Sources:

[1] https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000886.htm
[2] https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/exercise/art-20050999
[3] https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/diet-quality-worsens-alcohol-intake-increases

[4] https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-alcohol-affects-quality-and-quantity-sleep
[5] https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/molecular-ties-between-lack-sleep-weight-gain

[6] https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm
[7] https://www.sussex.ac.uk/news/all?id=47131

 

Leslie Barrie

Leslie Barrie
Leslie Barrie has a health writing and editing background, and holds her master's degree from Columbia University Graduate Journalism School. Over the past 10 years, she has worked at various magazines in New York City, such as Woman's Day, Health, Seventeen, and more. When she's not writing about health, she likes living it — she enjoys running, hiking, swimming, and yoga (even though she's not the best at it, it helps her to relax!). 


Favorite healthy snack: a piece of dark chocolate with a handful of almonds 

 

Reviewed by Briana Rodriquez, RDN

Briana Rodriquez, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Briana is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, California. She is passionate about utilizing food as functional and preventative medicine. Guided by a simplistic and optimistic approach, Briana’s philosophy is to help people improve their health and achieve their goals through the development of sustainable habits to live a healthy life. In her free time, you can find her strength training, indoor cycling, coffee tasting, and at local eateries with her husband and two dogs. 

 

Favorite healthy snack: peanut butter with celery alongside a grapefruit-flavored sparkling water (so refreshing!) 

 

Quote

This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and was written by an experienced health and lifestyle contributor and fact-checked by Briana Rodriquez, RDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Jenny Craig.

 

Our goal at Jenny Craig is to provide the most up-to-date and objective information on health-related topics, so our readers can make informed decisions based on factual content. All articles undergo an extensive review process, and depending on topic, are reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Nutritionist, to ensure accuracy. 

 

This article contains trusted sources. All references are hyperlinked at the end of the article to take readers directly to the source. 

 

Edited by Elisa - Jenny Craig


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