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Sober But Still Not Slim? How to Kickstart Your Weight Loss

By Janet Gourand February 01, 2024 Health and Fitness

Many of us manage to quit drinking and we feel better than we’ve felt for years. As we regain our health, some of us dream of also regaining our figures. We think fondly back to the shape we were in in our 20s when we only drank socially, before we got into the nightly habit of a glass or two of wine.

We go through our first alcohol free year fully expecting our excess weight to just melt away but for many of us it just doesn’t budge.

We discover that it’s just not that easy to shift the pounds we gained from decades of drinking.

Here are 5 tips to help you kickstart the weight loss once you are sober:

Alcohol Free Living Is the Foundation of Your Weight Loss

Always remember that alcohol is full of sugar and that one glass of wine is equivalent to a slice of cake. You would probably not eat 2 or 3 slices of cake while watching a movie but somehow a few glasses of wine just slip down easily.

Talking of cake, alcohol is more likely to result in you eating unhealthy snacks – after all, what is a glass of wine without something to nibble on? Not to mention the fact that alcohol is a toxin so your body will focus on metabolising the drink way before it gets to burning up the calories in your food. Your body just wants to get rid of the toxins as quickly as possible!

So, the science tells us that losing weight while drinking is highly unlikely!

Be Patient – Give Your Body Time to Heal

If you’ve been drinking for years, then your metabolism, blood pressure, liver function and hormones will be all over the place. It’s going to take time for your whole system to recalibrate and get back into balance.

Let’s take the feel good hormone dopamine as an example. When we drink we get our “feel good” vibe from alcohol which gives us a chemical high. So our body gets lazy and stops producing dopamine naturally, and it can take up to a year for our dopamine receptors to get back to normal.

Your metabolism will also normalise. I always used to say I had a “slow” metabolism, but after a year of sobriety I was able to eat whatever I wanted without putting on weight.

Get Moving! 

When we go alcohol-free, we can’t just sit around and expect miracles. Just as we had to “do the work” to ditch the drink most of us have to “do the work” to lose the weight we gained from decades of drinking. So, make sure you stick to a regular exercise plan and spend at least an hour outdoors every day.

Everyone can manage a daily walk and investing in a Fitbit will ensure that you hit your 10,000 steps every day. Exercise also plays a big role in lifting our mood by producing endorphins. Our bodies will recalibrate and get back into balance more quickly if we keep moving.

If you work from home, a great tip is to get up from your desk every hour and bounce on a mini trampoline – in fact, there are some serious health benefits from this activity!

Intermittent Fasting

Apart from exercising, another way that we can “do the work” is by intermittent fasting which is currently one of the world’s most popular health and fitness trends. People are using it to lose weight, improve their health and simplify their lifestyles. Many studies show that it can have powerful effects on your body and brain and can even help you live longer.

Intermittent fasting is quite simply about restricting your food intake at various periods – not about WHAT you eat but more about WHEN you eat. There are many variations and one of the most popular ones is the 16:8 which allows you an “eating window” of 8 hours, contrasting with a “fasting window” of 16 hours. One of the most exciting benefits of intermittent fasting is that not only does it cleanse our liver, kidneys and colon, but it helps us to heal our bodies by triggering “autophagy.”

When we relieve our bodies of the hard work of digesting our food all day long, they get a chance to do some serious repair work. Autophagy is the process whereby the body repairs damaged cells – and of course, cancer starts with a damaged cell.

Eat Fruit Not Sweets

Alcohol is full of sugar, so many people crave sweets, chocolates and cakes when they quit drinking. Trouble is, sugar is also addictive so it’s easy to transfer your bad habit from booze to sweets! When you long for something sweet, it means that your cells are craving glucose.

In order to satisfy them, you need to eat lots of fresh fruit – and I mean lots. First thing in the morning eat a huge bowl of mangos, water melon, pineapple slices – whatever you can find. Every time you get a craving (for sweets or wine) eat more fruit.

The proof that this works is that in a couple of months the fruit will taste really sweet – which means that your cells have absorbed enough glucose and your cravings should have gone. (If you want to hear the science behind this tip then go to Tribe Sober podcast – episode 31 with natural health expert Mary Anne Shearer).

So, there you have it. Five tips to kickstart your weight loss. Ditch the drink, get moving, eat lots of fruit, try intermittent fasting and above all… be patient.

Tribe Sober enables people to quit drinking and then to go on and thrive in their alcohol-free lives. Staying fit and maintaining a healthy weight is an essential part of thriving.

If you’d like to explore your relationship with alcohol or if you are just “sober curious,” join our FREE 5-day Bootcamp which takes place from February 12th to 16th.

The event takes place in a private Facebook Group and includes daily tasks, trainings and connection. Packed with great advice and live training sessions to get you started (or restarted) on your journey to alcohol-free living!

Let’s Have a Conversation:

How many years have you been drinking? Do you drink consistently – a glass or two of wine most evenings? Have you ever tried to take a break to test your dependence? Have you noticed an impact on your looks after a taking a break? Did you lose weight? Do you ever worry about your drinking? Are you aware of the health dangers of alcohol as you get older?

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nancy Na Ben

any good ideas for wine or vodka substitutions. Water is blah, juice is sugar, I haven’t found anything. I also quit for a year with no weight loss. I found your article interesting, thanks.

janet gourand

Hi Nancy there are plenty of AF wines and even vodkas but they are not very good – I think the key is to stop looking for “fake booze” and start experimenting with alcohol free drinks – in the US you have – they have some lovely choices, including sparkling teas – I’m glad you enjoyed the article – please come and join the conversation in our Sobriety Bootcamp next week – link is at the end of the article janet x

Liz Walker

Mango is one of the highest fruit sugars going,you still have to eat moderately on fruit

janet gourand

it’s true Liz but the mango consumption is just for a short time to help with alcohol cravings which will reduce within a few weeks


I was on the 16/8 diet and lost weight. Went from 180 to 150 lbs. in 2 yrs. I took off the last 5 lbs. with abstaining from my nightly wine. Feeling better and eating better. It’s funny because ice cream is still helping me cope. Still at 150. IC is better than booze.

janet gourand

well done DD – that’s amazing – and yes ice cream is better than booze!


Janet, I should have noted. When I have my daily ice cream, I have maybe 3 or 4 tablespoons. Just to make me happy.

janet gourand

sounds like you can “moderate” your ice cream D D ;-)


Alcohol should be banned from our society as far as I am concerned. There is nothing good about alcohol and nothing good comes out of drinking it. Just saying….


So true.

janet gourand

although it sounds a bit extreme I agree with you Joyce – in the 8 years that I’ve been running I’ve seen so many women almost destroyed by alcohol – thankfully we’ve been able to help most of those ladies to quit drinking and rebuild their lives

The Author

Janet Gourand is a writer, a podcaster and a recovery coach. She quit drinking in 2015 at the age of 63. She founded Tribe Sober which enables people to change their relationship with alcohol. Tribe Sober is an international community which offers a membership program.

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