For the past few weeks, I have been carefully recording my food and drink intake, together with my exercise. I would say that my net calorie intake is accurate to within 100 calories either way. I have also been weighing myself at the same time every day, first thing in the morning after visiting the loo, and with no clothes on.

Plotting a graph of net calories vs body weight shows a strong correlation. On days that I have a calorie surplus, my weight increases the next day, proportionally to the calorie surplus. This trend is even more noticeable if I average the calorie surplus and weight over an entire week.

However, one thing I have noticed, is that calories from alcohol do not seem to particularly affect my weight, certainly not as much as you might expect from the calorific content. For example, every now and then I might have a big night and drink, for example, 6 beers. This is the equivalent of 1200 calories. On days when I eat that level of calorie surplus from food, my weight difference is very noticeable the next day. However, there is not a major weight difference after drinking this level of alcohol.

The best correlation I can find is when I only include the carbs from the beer. So, 6 pints of beer is 100 grams of carbs, which is 400 calories. Including this in my graph shows a good correlation, as with the food intake.

So, my conclusion from this is that the calories from the actual alcohol itself are not used by my body, but simply excreted. Only the calories from the carbs in the drink are burned for energy.

Is this correct? I have seen so many different articles on this, which do not seem to agree. Some say that all calories in alcohol are burned for energy. Some say that all calories in alcohol are excreted immediately. Some say that all calories in alcohol are stored immediately as fat. And all these articles claim that the other theories are simply "myths"!

So what is the truth as to how alcohol is used by the body?

1 Answer 1


From the top answer in How Does Alcohol Really Affect Gains, the first bullet point state:

Unlike proteins, carbs, and fats it cannot be stored by the body, so it takes precedence over all other metabolic functions.

Meaning that alcohol can not be stored as fat in the body. So the body's natural reaction is to burn it all out as fast as it possibly can. This effect takes precedence over the carbs, fat, and protein already in the body, so those will be stored as fat as they are no longer being used for energy. It does not just pass through.

The weight effects you're seeing are caused by a number of things. Primarily it is water fluctuations. Alcohol lowers muscle glycogen and causes dehydration. Food does the exact opposite. Lower glycogen and dehydration means lower amount of water in the body which means less weight. The less weight will offset the weight gained from the beer. On the scale it "looks like you gained nothing" when in fact you're just dehydrated.

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