DRY JULY: THE BENEFITS OF CUTTING BACK ON DRINKING
Time to read 7 min
Time to read 7 min
Whether you occasionally indulge in a glass of red, enjoy a beer or two after work or spend your weekends trying the newest cocktails at the hottest bars, there's no denying the significant effect alcohol can have on your overall health and, more specifically, your progress and results if you're striving towards particular body goals. So, in the spirit of Dry July, we're bringing you benefits, tips, and ideas for cutting back on booze to optimise your health.
Unfortunately, consuming alcohol can affect your health, whether you feel it immediately or not. The short-term effects of alcohol can exhibit:
Changes in mood - up or down
Sense of euphoria and confidence
Lack of responsibility
Loss of coordination and communication
Loss of logic and perception
Head pain, vomiting, diarrhea
While these effects may seem temporary, as mentioned above, they can negatively impact your health in the long run. The risks associated with drinking alcohol are not to be taken lightly, as excessive alcohol consumption can result in long-term conditions like liver failure, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and digestive problems. Many can resonate with the consequences of alcohol via their own experience or someone they know.
When it comes to risky drinking behaviour, approximately 157,000 hospital admissions and 5,500 deaths are associated with alcohol consumption in Australia each year, and alcohol-related harm costs the economy more than $14 billion per annum, according to the Mitchell Institute at Victoria University. These are staggering numbers!
When people hear the term 'giving up drinking', they think it's all or nothing. But cutting back, even if it is just for a month, can also offer some pretty surprising health benefits. 'Semi-sober' is the term many use to test the waters when cutting back on alcohol and whether your reasons to cut back are physical, psychological, financial, social, or personal - what matters most is whatever the reason, your health will benefit massively.
It's important to remember that whether you're a full-time, part-time, or casual drinker, everyone's body will respond differently to the withdrawal of alcohol. You may notice withdrawal symptoms or no symptoms at all. You may also find your bank balance is a little higher and your brain a little clearer… Let's get into the benefits!
After just one week of giving up alcohol, a couple of key benefits you may notice could include:
Drinking alcohol typically brings on deep sleep, missing the essential 6-7 cycles of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. The benefits of better sleep are endless! From better moods, improved exercise recovery, mental clarity, productivity, and balanced eating patterns. Did you know alcohol alters your hunger hormones? Yep, the hunger hormones ghrelin and leptin, responsible for feeling hungry and full, go up and down after drinking, leaving you hungrier and generally resulting in a post-drinking takeout meal!
Are you getting enough sleep? Read our blog on 5 reasons you're not getting quality sleep to find out more.
Giving up alcohol can increase your hydration; when you drink it, you lose approximately four times as much liquid as you consumed. Crazy right? So alcohol-related dehydration can leave you with hangover-like headaches, reduced electrolyte levels that can affect your muscles and nerves, and feeling tired, irritable, and unpleasant to be around. Remaining adequately hydrated when abstaining from alcohol is essential for any withdrawal symptoms you may feel, not to mention the many health benefits of water from better sleep, optimal functioning organs, recovery, concentration, digestion, and everything in between.
Generally speaking, most alcoholic drinks are high in calories which can significantly affect your waistline if you're a regular drinker with a specific taste for beer, wine, or mixed drinks. Six standard glasses of wine could save upwards of 900 calories per week. If you prefer a heavier beer, you could potentially lower your calories by over 1000 calories a week, depending on your daily intake. If you're ditching alcohol, you're likely also ditching your go-to greasy hangover meal, the salty snacks that accompany your drinks and increasing your water intake, which also has significant effects on weight loss and the overall state of your health.
All of this in just one week! Check out the additional benefits below. After a solid month of giving up alcohol, you could potentially see:
Known to cause acid reflux, alcohol contributes to various reflux diseases, resulting in discomfort and the need for medication, and in some cases, it can result in cancer or death. After giving up alcohol, your stomach acid may become balanced as the lining of your stomach is no longer irritated, causing digestive disruption and discomfort.
Excessive drinking is one of the leading contributors to high blood pressure. In a 2019 study, it was discovered that high‐dose alcohol initially decreased blood pressure within six hours, lasting up to 12 hours. After that, blood pressure was found to have increased, and the heart rate also increased significantly after alcohol consumption. Repeated binge drinking or long-term alcohol consumption can lead to long-term high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and weakened heart muscle. (Tasnim, S et al. 2020)
The incredible thing about one of the body's most essential organs, the liver, is that it's relatively resilient. So, although drinking alcohol regularly can lead to fatty liver and associated conditions, it can also get back to a healthy state pretty quickly when you stop drinking due to its ability to regenerate itself. When the liver isn't being overworked breaking down alcohol, it can focus on other essential jobs like breaking down and filtering out toxins, fat metabolism, and hormones.
An underperforming liver can result in feeling tired, sluggish, and foggy. So, to support your body to operate optimally again, you could look at incorporating a liver cleanse into your routine. Let's be real here... The liver is responsible for over 500 vital bodily functions, including detoxifying the blood, so optimising its functioning is a no-brainer if you're serious about your health.
Feeling like your body could use a reset, detox, and cleanse to get your health on track and reach your fitness goals? Then this is the ultimate cleansing formula for you. Fortified with essential ingredients known to support liver detoxification, Code Red is a highly effective clinically dosed formula designed to help your body get back to its optimal state!
BONUS - it actually tastes SO good. Choose from passionfruit or red frog raspberry and get your body thriving from the inside out. For more details on this game-changing formula, click here.
Did you know alcohol significantly impacts your skin health? Your skin is a reflection of your liver, so when your liver function is below average, chances are the appearance of your skin will be too. Like your liver, your skin can regenerate when you abstain from alcohol or, at the least, cut back. You see, excessive alcohol can encourage a build-up of toxins within the deeper layers of the skin, resulting in inflammation often appearing as redness, puffiness, and premature aging, to name a few. So even though you may be heavy on all the right beauty products, your skin will still reflect what you put into your body.
From nights out on the town to your favourite bottles of spirits, wine, or beer of preference for a quiet 'few' at home, there's no denying the cost of alcohol adds up if you're a regular drinker. For example, if you're spending approximately $160 a week on alcohol or a night out, you could save $8,320 a year by giving it up or reducing your intake! The hole in your pocket can be pretty significant when you add the uber or taxi rides and hangover-cure takeout meals, shouting drinks for your mates, etc.
If you're working towards specific body goals like weight loss or muscle gain, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can sabotage your performance, results, and the most important part, recovery.
Known for containing empty calories and holding no nutritional value, alcohol is often mixed with high sugar/ high carb drinks that blow out your waistline, increase water retention, and stall your progress whether your goals are to gain or lose.
Impaired coordination, tiredness, fogginess, and loss of strength can result from a big night out, so hitting the gym while you're not feeling your best can put you at risk of sustaining an injury and increasing dehydration having a direct impact on your recovery.
If you're serious about your health and fitness goals, it's time to reconsider how much you're drinking and how you can minimise your intake to support your health.
If you know you're easily tempted by alcohol, have a strategy that will help you keep your health goals at the front of your mind. Opt for:
Alcohol-free events with your mates instead
Try the mocktail menu!
Catch up for a morning coffee instead of late afternoon drinks
Spend more time with friends who don't drink a lot
If you don't want to quit drinking alcohol altogether, cutting back can also be highly beneficial for your health. Opt for a change in habit:
Set a limit for yourself
Count your standard drinks
For every drink you have, follow it up with a glass of water
Choose low-strength alcohol instead
Like most things in life, quitting something is much easier when you have the support of friends, family, and colleagues. So, let them know your goals and ask them to support your journey to improve your health while stopping or cutting back on drinking, even if it is temporary or for a short amount of time. Alternatively, refer to the contact list below if you require additional support.
Tasnim, S et al. 2020, ‘Effect of Alcohol on Blood Pressure’. National Library of Medicine, accessed 14 May 2022,