Alcohol can block GLP-1 receptors, which leads to your stomach emptying itself faster and to heightened hunger. It can also increase Leptin, a hormone which drives your appetite. Read more about how alcohol affects weight loss and GLP-1 medication here.
Let’s break down how alcohol can impact your weight loss.
This paper from Current Obesity Reports published in 2015 walks through how drinking alcohol can impact your body weight. Thankfully, as they’ve aggregated 17 studies on this topic, we can use this our basis to walk through different mechanisms.
Firstly, many studies have shown that while alcohol contains 7 calories per gram—much higher than carbohydrates do, at just 4 calories per gram—it does not impact how full you feel. Instead, you are more likely to eat much more than usual after having consumed alcohol.
Second, alcohol influences many hormones linked to appetite and fullness. Alcohol can block GLP-1 receptors, which leads to your stomach emptying itself faster and to heightened hunger. It can also increase Leptin, a hormone which drives your appetite.
You may have heard of GLP-1 medications in another context: medications that activate GLP-1 receptors are in a new class of FDA-approved weight loss medications. These include the generic medications Liraglutide and Semaglutide (brand name: Ozempic, Wegovy, Saxenda, Trulicity, Rybelsus, Victoza). These medications can do the opposite--working to activate GLP-1 to make you feel full for longer!
Dr. Eva Shelton, M.D.
Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital