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6 Incredible Effects Of Giving Up Alcohol for One Month

A little encouragement to try Dry January.

With some new year's resolutions, it can take a little more time than a month to see results—building muscle and losing weight, we're looking at you. But when you go alcohol-free for a month, however, there are some very noticeable changes you can experience after just 31 days.

"Dry January," or giving up booze for the first month of the year, is a resolution that has a host of benefits. (You can even make serious progress toward increasing your chances of losing weight!) We asked nutrition experts for some of the effects you may experience by the end of the month when you keep the wine bottles on the rack or beer in the fridge.

RELATED: Eating Habits to Lose Abdominal Fat As You Age, Say Dietitians


You may feel happier.

middle-aged woman sitting on couch in jeans smiling
Shutterstock / mimagephotography

"Alcohol is technically a depressant, and including it in your diet may cause some people to feel negative mental side effects once the initial effects of the booze wear off," says medical expert board member and registered dietitian Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN.

"If you give up alcohol for a month, you may actually feel happier and have improved mental health," says Manaker.


You may lose weight.

stepping on scale

Alcohol contains more calories per gram (7 calories per gram) than two common macronutrients, protein and carbs, which are just 4 calories per gram. "And since taking in too many calories can contribute to weight gain, cutting the booze may support your weight loss journey—especially if you tend to sip on super-sugary and caloric drinks like a fruity pina colada, cutting your booze may save some significant liquid calories," says Manaker.

There's more than one way that cutting alcohol out for one month can help you lose weight. A body of evidence supports that people tend to consume more calories from food when drinking alcohol, which can ultimately lead to weight gain; however, studies have yet to determine a clear cause-and-effect association.


You may sleep better.


While you may feel like a glass of wine before bed can help you wind down and fall asleep more easily, alcohol generally has a negative effect on sleep quality.

"Excessive alcohol intake inhibits normal regulation of circadian proteins and genes, and it can take weeks for this to get back to normal. In other words, your beauty sleep is the victim and pays the price when you party," says Daina Trout, MS, MPH, the Co-Founder and Chief Mission Officer at Health-Ade who has Master's degrees in nutrition and public health.

As Trout explains, it takes time for your sleep schedule to get back to normal after a long period of drinking, so if you cut out alcohol for one month, you may notice more restful sleep after 31 days!


You may reset your digestion.

happy woman hands on belly

Have you been experiencing bloating and other digestive issues recently? Cutting out alcohol for a month may be one way to alleviate this digestive distress.

"Excessive alcohol inhibits normal production of digestive enzymes, which means they can't break down what you eat, and food is left to sit undigested in your belly. This not only damages the stomach lining, but it also produces unwanted gases, bloating, and indigestion—not fun!" says Trout.


You may calm your joint and skin flare-ups.

Happy mature woman admiring herself in the mirror

Side effects of inflammation, like skin issues and joint pain, may melt away over the course of the month when you ditch booze.

"Excessive alcohol injures the intestinal wall upon contact, causing inflammation locally and all over the body," says Trout. "A few bad nights can actually cause chronic and persistent inflammation in your body—so what you were calling aging and bad skin might actually be the booze!" For example, one study of over 3,000 women found that participants who had more than 8 alcoholic drinks a week had significantly increased upper facial lines, under-eye puffiness, midface volume loss, and blood vessels than those who drank less or not at all. While you may not experience a complete anti-aging reversal after a month, taking this month off may encourage you to keep alcohol intake to a minimum to support healthy aging.


You'll strengthen your ability to fight infection.

A hand holds a dirty used napkin on a yellow background.

Support your body's natural immune defenses by dropping booze from your diet. "Excessive alcohol changes the gut flora in your microbiome for the worse, and quickly. These changes weaken your body's defenses, and put you at heightened risk for getting sick!" says Trout.

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Olivia Tarantino
Olivia Tarantino is the Managing Editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in nutrition, health, and food product coverage. Read more about Olivia
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