#Health & Fitness
9 Sober Benefits That ALMOST Convince Us to Quit Drinking
by Rachel Weeks
Whether it’s for health reasons or personal reasons, we’ve all thought about giving up alcohol, at least temporarily. But losing the booze is always easier said than done. Here are nine things to look forward to if you do decide to quit drinking.
9 SOBER BENEFITS THAT ALMOST
We love a good night out on the town as much as anyone else. Putting on a great downtown outfit and knocking back a martini with friends is among our favorite ways to spend a weekend. But we’ve also woken up with a headsplitting hangover that has us swearing off drinking forever. Alcohol is, in fact, bad for us—and cutting it from our lives has many benefits. Here are nine major pros to giving up booze.
1. You’ll eat less, and we’re not just talking about late-night pizza runs.
While curbing your alcohol consumption will certainly cut back on your 2 AM taco truck visits, studies have shown that people who don’t drink actually eat less during regular mealtimes as well. A study published in the journal Obesity found that women subjected to an alcohol “infusion” ate approximately 30% more food than those who ate without the infusion. Researchers predict this is because alcohol heightens the senses, which might explain why late-night grilled cheese tastes so damn good.
2. You’ll lose weight.
In addition to all the fatty drunk foods it encourages you to eat, alcohol itself can be very high in calories. Margarita night with the girls can rack up your daily calorie intake very quickly—300 calories or more per drink. Your favorite craft brew is just as bad and sometimes worse! An average 12-ounce IPA is around 200 calories, not terrible if you’re only having one. But a measly 6-ounce imperial stout can have as many as 500 calories. Cut drinks like that out of your life and the weight will fall off.
3. You’ll build muscle strength quicker.
Even if alcohol doesn’t interfere with your gym routine, which it probably does, it will still counteract any work you’re putting in. One study on rats showed alcohol decreased the rodents’ lean body mass and muscle weight by disrupting the synthesis of proteins that build muscle. Another found that “alcohol decreased the production of human growth hormone, a key part of muscle repair and growth process, by up to 70%.” Men’s Fitness even found that consuming alcohol regularly can make you feel more sore post-workout.
4. You will sleep better.
You may think that glass of wine or two before bed is helping you fall asleep faster, but alcohol has been shown to seriously disrupt sleep patterns during the night. A recent study in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research found that your nightcap increases your brain’s alpha wave patterns, which are most common when you’re awake, and delta wave patterns, which make sleep restful and restorative. You may feel like you’re sleeping soundly, but your brain—a warzone for competing alpha and delta waves—certainly doesn’t. Can’t seem to get out of bed to beat the farmers market rush hour? Cutting out alcohol may be the answer.
5. You will save money.
Even if you’re hitting up all the cheapest happy hours, drinking is still an expensive hobby. Take a few moments to add up your weekly bar tab. That number alone is probably pretty sobering. But factor in all of the in-home wine drinking, late night junk food, and last-minute Lyft rides and your weekend bar-hopping will start to look a lot more financially problematic. Consider what you could do with all that extra cash. Start a new hobby? Join a gym? Maybe just get that HBO Go subscription you’ve always wanted.
6. Your skin will clear up.
Whaaa? It’s true. Alcohol is a diuretic, Damon Raskin, MD, explained to Prevention.com, so it causes you to pee more and reabsorb water less, leaving you and your skin dehydrated and parched. Raskin says that eliminating alcohol from your diet could decrease ruddiness in your cheeks and nose and improve other skin conditions like dandruff, eczema, and rosacea. Remember, you’ll also be getting more sleep, so those dark eye circles may fade as well.
7. Your sex life will be better.
Ever heard of whiskey dick? It’s real. Studies show that men who frequently hit the bottle have a 60 to 70 percent chance of suffering from sexual problems like erectile dysfunction. Of course, separating your love life from your drinking life is easier said than done, but who ever said finding your future partner (or even temporary partner) was best done with impaired judgement? Trade in your liquid courage for actual conversation skills and maybe an online dating profile, and your love life will be better than ever.
8. You’ll smoke less.
We’ve all heard it—and maybe even said it—before, “I only smoke when I’m drunk.” Well, if you aren’t getting drunk anymore, that excuse will be a thing of the past. Then, you won’t only be saving money on drinks at the bar, you’ll also be cutting back on cigarette costs as well, and all the nasty health problems that come along with lighting up.
9. Your immune system will be stronger.
Yes. Alcohol affects your body’s ability to fight off germs as well. A study published by the journal Alcohol found that alcohol can affect your immune system as early as 20 minutes after ingestion. Maybe wash your hands extra well next time you use the restroom at that sticky dive bar your friends love so much.
Of course, deciding to give up alcohol is the easy part, actually giving it up is a lot harder. You may be worried about losing your social life or feeling like the weird sober friend, but you’re not alone. Nearly one third of the adult U.S. population doesn’t drink alcohol, including lots of celebrities. You’d be in good, sober company.