Can you drink alcohol while on Nutrisystem? There are a number of reasons why alcohol can be the enemy of diets like Nutrisystem, but they have recently softened their stance to allow an occasional glass of wine, beer, liquor, or cocktail. (Liquor? I don’t even know her!)
If you are on Nutrisystem or thinking about joining, here’s what you need to know about Nutrisystem & alcohol.
First, Why Alcohol is Bad for Nutrisystem (Or any Diet)
There are a few reasons why drinking alcohol is counterproductive to weight loss. First, know that when you drink alcohol, your body hits the “pause” button on all the good things that it was doing and turns its attention to getting rid of the alcohol.
That means that when you drink alcohol, your body takes the energy that it was using to burn fat and uses it to burn off the booze instead. That’s obviously going to affect your body’s ability to lose weight, and whether Nutrisystem will work.
Alcohol has been shown to specifically affect your body’s ability to burn fat around your hips and belly. This is most evident in what people call a “beer belly“ or “muffin top.” Ironically, drinking too much beer may be preventing you from seeing your own “six-pack!”
Nutrisystem: “Skip All Alcohol the First Week”
Nutrisystem starts with Fresh Start, a fast weight loss phase with the goal of losing 13 pounds in the first month. This initial more restrictive week is intended to regulate your blood sugar levels and metabolism to prime your body for an extended period of weight loss.
Basically, it’s a cleansing time for your body, which has to be broken of bad eating habits and cravings.
During this week Nutrisystem asks that you refrain from alcohol including wine and beer that may throw a wrench into the goals of this transitional phase.
*Related: Nutrisystem 50% Off Sale + Free Food! (New customers only)
Nutrisystem: “Limit Alcohol to 2 Drinks Per Week”
Nutrisystem used to discourage drinking alcohol altogether, but they realize that it isn’t realistic to eliminate all alcohol, especially at events or social gatherings. For this reason, Nutrisystem Fresh Start now says you can have 2 alcoholic drinks per week, preferably on different days. They also ask that you make good choices when ordering beer, wine, or cocktails. Here are some tips for drinking alcohol on Nutrisystem:
Skip Sweet Alcoholic Drinks
By nature, sweet alcoholic drinks is a double-whammy for diets like Nutrisystem and the South Beach Diet as they are high in bad carbs and sugar. These sugary drinks can quickly wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels by raising them quickly before they come crashing back down. Regulating blood sugar is central to Nutrisystem and even more important if you have Type 2 Diabetes, or are on Nutrisystem D.
If you are choosing a bar drink, skip anything that is sweet. This includes sweet or dessert wines like Riesling, Moscato, fruit-flavored, wine coolers, and Port wine. Oh, and don’t even think about ordering a Long Island Iced Tea, anything blue, or drinks served in a fishbowl like a giant Margarita or daiquiri. Those tropical drinks they sell at pool bars are the enemy of any diet. (Plus, you might wake up with a new tattoo, laying next to someone named “Delroy.”)
Also, sugar can slow down your body’s ability to absorb and eliminate alcohol which why drinking sugary alcoholic drinks can lead to a headache or hangover.
Tip: Replace the “tonic” in a mixed drink like a vodka tonic with seltzer and lime. Surprisingly, tonic has a ton of sugar (32 grams!), carbs, and calories. That’s almost as much sugar as a soda, while seltzer has almost none.
Mind the Drink Serving Size
They say that everything is big in Texas, but that’s usually true for al of America. We like big things, and expect big portions when we go to restaurants and bars.
In fact, did you know that 25 years ago an average bagel was 140 calories, but today your average bagel is twice as big and 350 calories? The same goes for sodas, pizza, and just about everything else!
Our ever-increasing portion sizes are one of the reasons why we have an obesity epidemic in America and have to spend billions of dollars on diets like Nutrisystem in the first place!
This portion-size problem is evident at the bar as our wine, beer, vodka, and cocktail portions are often too big.
Nutrisystem & Wine:
Can you drink wine on Nutrisystem? Yes, but only a maximum of 2 glasses per week, preferably on different days.
Wine is a favorite drink choice for women and men on Nutrisystem, and it’s a relatively good one. However, there are a few things to consider.
If you drink wine, choose dry wine instead of sweet wine. Also, check the alcohol level or “ABV” (alcohol by volume) on the label. Choose a wine with an ABV under 12% because less alcohol equals fewer calories.
Also, pay attention to the serving size, as it’s an important variable. A glass of wine should be 4 oz., but most restaurants and bars now pour closer to a 5 oz serving; that’s 25% more than recommended, and part of the “portion problem” in our country.
If you’re drinking at home, familiarize yourself with what a 4 oz. pour of wine looks like. You should get 6 glasses of wine out of a standard 750 ml bottle of wine. If you’re pouring yourself a glass of wine, you can measure it out as 1/2 cup (4 oz.) before putting it into your favorite wine glass.
*Related: Carbs and calories in red & white wine
Tip: To cut down on alcohol and calories, turn your glass of wine into a wine spritzer. Just mix 3 oz. cold white wine with 1 oz. of cold club soda and garnish with a lime wedge. That’s 25% fewer carbs and calories than a glass of white wine!
Nutrisystem & Beer:
Can you drink beer on Nutrisystem? Yes, but only two 12oz. glasses or cans per week, preferably on different days.
I find that in the Summer nothing tastes as good as an ice-cold beer on a hot day. So, if the non-alcoholic beer doesn’t cut it for you, here are a couple of things to consider if you are on Nutrisystem.
First, light beer is a better choice. It has about 30% fewer calories and half the carbs of regular beer. Also, stay away from fruity, sweet, dark, or heavy beers.
Second, a glass of beer should be 12 ounces. Most bars and restaurants now serve pints (16 oz.) which is 33% more beer, carbs, and calories!
Note that generally, wine is more diet-friendly than beer as wine has about 35% fewer calories and carbs than beer.
Tip: On a hot day, why not drop an ice cube into your beer? Not only will it keep your beer cold, but when it melts the extra 1 oz. of water will make your regular beer “lighter” and give you a couple of extra sips.
When You Drink Alcohol, Eat (Healthy) Food
We naturally eat more when we drink alcohol, because alcohol makes us hungry. The worst part is that we usually make bad choices of what to eat, especially from a bar or Happy Hour menu. For this reason, Nutrisystem asks that you eat a healthy snack or meal with your drink.
Food that’s high in protein and/or fiber will help make you feel more full and curb unhealthy cravings for carbs like pizza, chicken wings, and nachos. If you’re at home, consider having one of your Nutrisystem meals with your alcoholic drink.
Tip: Don’t drink alcohol on an empty stomach! That will only increase your carb cravings and increase the alcohol’s effect on your blood sugar levels.
*Related: Is there a Nutrisystem free trial?
When You Drink Alcohol, Drink Water!
You already know that diets like Nutrisystem and their other program, the South Beach Diet, stress the importance of drinking enough water daily. It helps keep your body’s systems running smoothly, increases your metabolism, and encourages healthy weight loss.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to drink a glass of water before and/or after each alcoholic beverage. If you’re at a bar, they should be happy to give you a glass of water with (or after) your beer, wine, or cocktail.
Tip: If you’re out at a bar or restaurant, consider ordering a seltzer with a lemon or lime wedge. This is great in social situations if you think drinking a glass of water will make you look like a square. To everyone else at the bar, it looks like an alcoholic drink, so there’s no reason why you can’t feel like you’re part of the group, even if you’re not drinking alcohol.
Nutrisystem & Alcohol: In Summary…
Although alcohol is not off-limits on Nutrisystem, you do have to be smart. Alcohol has 7 calories per gram, which means it’s very calorie-dense (the only thing more calorie-dense is actual fat!) and by nature not diet-friendly. Consider that a mere 1.5 oz shot of vodka has 100 calories, and when added to mixers, the carbs and calories can really add up.
The whole point of Nutrisystem and the South Beach Diet is to structure what you eat to curb cravings, control your blood sugar levels, and speed up your metabolism for weight loss. Nutrisystem is an investment not only of money but your time and energy as well. Drinking too much alcohol can cancel out all those good things you’re doing for your mind and body, so just be smart about what you drink!