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Secret Side Effects of Giving Up Alcohol, Say Dietitians

You may enjoy more benefits than you ever expected when you give up those drinks.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

Whether you're currently dealing with a horrible hangover, have started to notice some negative side effects like accumulating belly fat, or have found yourself texting your ex too frequently while tipsy, everyone has their reasons for deciding to give up alcohol. And regardless of whether that resolution sticks for a week, a year, or a lifetime, you can reap a long list of health benefits from every day you spend as a teetotaler.

If you're thinking of cutting alcohol out of your regular routine, read on to discover the surprising side effects of giving up alcohol, according to dietitians. And for more ways to boost your wellbeing, check out The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.


Your heart health may improve.

Doctor points on a human heart model

If you want to improve your heart health in a hurry, cutting alcohol from your regular routine might just be the quickest way to do it.

"Cutting back on alcohol intake may help improve your blood pressure, blood lipid levels, and overall risk of heart disease," says Kristin Gillespie, MS, RD, LD, CNSC, a nutrition advisor to Exercise with Style.

For more ways to improve your heart health, check out The Best Foods That Can Help Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease.


You may lose weight.


It's not just what you eat that contributes to your weight.

"Alcohol contains more calories than more people are aware [of]," says Gillespie. "Cutting back on your alcohol consumption will inherently reduce your calorie intake and may yield weight loss."

For more genius ways to slim down, check out these 15 Underrated Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work.


You may sleep better.


Want to sleep better tonight? Start by skipping that nightcap.

"Although alcohol may initially make you feel sleepy because it is a depressant in nature, it has an overall negative impact on the amount and quality of your sleep. Consuming alcohol prior to bedtime generally results in reduced REM sleep and increased nocturnal urination with the need to get up more frequently to urinate," says Gillespie.

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Your immune system may get stronger.

Young Business Man Sneezing. Coughing Into His Sleeve or Elbow to Prevent Spread Covid-19. Corona Virus

If you find yourself coming down with every cold that gets passed around your office, giving up alcohol may confer some noticeable benefits for your overall wellbeing.

"Chronic alcohol consumption results in inflammation, which is your body's natural immune response to an invader. While your immune system is working hard on addressing the alcohol in your blood, you become more susceptible to other infectious invaders," explains Leah Johnston, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist at SRW. "Reducing alcohol consumption can lead to getting sick less and reducing inflammation."


Your complexion may improve.

Woman looking at the mirror.

Want to improve the health and appearance of your skin? You might want to start by cutting those cocktails out of your regular routine.

"Alcohol is a dehydrator and your skin needs hydration to achieve that glowing complexion. The less alcohol you consume, the better your body's hydration status, the better your skin looks," says Johnston.

For more ways to get a radiant complexion, check out these 33 Best Foods for Glowing Skin That's Blemish-Free.


You might find yourself craving sugar.

Woman eating chocolate cake

If you've found yourself reliant on alcohol in the past, giving up alcohol may give way to another craving, at least initially.

"Sugar cravings are sometimes reported after alcohol-dependent persons give up drinking," says Keith-Thomas Ayoob, EdD, RD, FAND, a registered dietitian and associate clinical professor emeritus in the department of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

"It's not that sugar is 'addicting,' but it does release dopamine and that makes you feel better in the short term. There are certainly ways to tame this and include sugar in moderation, but in the short term, I'd rather see a heavy drinker swap out alcohol for a piece of cake or bowl of ice cream."

For more incentive to skip those drinks, check out these 41 Ways Alcohol Ruins Your Health.

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more about Sarah