How about a dry January? Here’s how cutting out alcohol impacts weight loss and your overall health

Whether you overindulged during the holidays or are simply looking for a way to press the reset button with your health, dry January can help.

Essentially, dry January is just like it sounds; you give up alcohol for the month. The concept has expanded, though initially, it was a public health campaign meant to bring awareness to alcohol habits in the United Kingdom. Today it is known worldwide as a way to step back from drinking to get a sense of alcohol’s role in your life.

How much calorie-saving can you expect from cutting out alcohol?

The average alcoholic beverage contains between 125-300 calories per serving, with wine lower than most other alcoholic drinks.

If you consider yourself a “moderate drinker,” defined by the Dietary Guidelines as up to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women, the calories add up. At two alcoholic beverages per day, a man consumes about 2,800 additional calories per week. Consuming one alcoholic drink per day translates to an extra 1,400 calories per week for a woman. If you couple these liquid calories with typical holiday eating, you quickly see the recipe for weight gain.

Alcohol also indirectly impacts your energy balance. Many people notice that they “let their guard down” when drinking, which means eating foods they’d usually avoid or eating larger portions without realizing it. The bottom line is this: cutting out alcohol for a month is a straightforward strategy to jump-start your weight loss– no meal planning or special diet plans required!

Health benefits of dry January

Besides weight loss, there are numerous reasons that you may consider hanging up your “alcohol hat” at the start of a new year. Alcohol intake above “moderate drinking” can negatively affect health in the short and long term. To learn how alcohol impacts different body organs, click here.

Dry January makes those early morning workouts that much easier

Research shows that alcohol consumption negatively impacts sleep. Alcohol may make you feel drowsy, causing you to fall asleep faster. However, you won’t sleep as well. Alcohol blocks REM or restorative sleep; thus, you don’t get in as many high-quality Zzs. Less REM leaves you feeling tired and unfocused in the morning.

Cutting out alcohol can help improve the quality of your sleep, allowing you to feel more energized and potentially more productive the next day. Then you won’t be as tempted to press the snooze button. You’ll make it to that 6 A.M. workout class after all!

Time for reflection–A health benefit of dry January

Cutting out alcohol for a month allows you some perspective to examine alcohol’s presence in your life.

Do you find that your social life revolves around eating and drinking? Do you use alcohol as a coping mechanism to manage life’s ups and downs? Giving up alcohol for a month provides some space for reflection. It allows you to see how alcohol aligns with your values.

A dry January may be just the reminder you need to realize that you don’t need a drink to have fun, decompress, or enjoy your weekend. Plus, your abstinence may inspire others to evaluate their drinking and its impact on their health.

Low-calorie, non-alcoholic options to help you stay the course during your dry January

Want to keep up with your weight loss while cutting out alcohol? Try these low-to no-calorie beverages.

  • Mocktail. Mix half soda water + half tonic water + splash of cranberry juice and lime. Serve over ice.
  • Seltzer water. Pour plain or naturally flavored seltzer water over ice for a refreshing, healthy beverage. Vary the flavor by adding a slice of fresh lime, lemon, or cucumber. A splash of your favorite juice also pumps up the flavor.
  • Fruit-infused water. Chop up some fruit and add the chunks to a large water pitcher for a refreshing beverage.
  • Hot tea. Green and black tea are rich in antioxidants. Stay toasty and calorie-free with a warm cup of regular or decaffeinated plain tea.
  • Black coffee. It is a healthier choice than any “creamed-up” coffee.
  • Kombucha. A trending health beverage, kombucha comprises tea leaves fermented with sugar and then generally mixed with a small amount of juice. Rich in probiotics and low in calories, this naturally carbonated drink can be made at home or purchased at the grocery store.

Some things to consider before cutting out alcohol to benefit your weight loss

While not drinking for a month can create a calorie deficit, it can also play games with your mindset. For some people, cutting out alcohol may lead to a greater chance of binging after a month of abstinence.

These effects are similar to someone who goes on a diet for a set amount of time only to binge on all the foods they avoided after the diet is over. Consider how you’ve approached diets and health challenges in the past. Do you find it motivating to make temporary changes in your eating and activity? Make sure to think through what a dry January would look like for you and what you’d like to happen when the month is over.

There are many potential health benefits of a dry January. Whether you are looking for a way to jump-start your weight loss or examine the role alcohol plays in your life, a dry January may help. You may be surprised to find you have more energy and productivity and feel better in your skin!

Starting a vegan diet? Follow these steps to get maximum benefits

Do you think a vegan diet might be for you? Vegan eating plans contain no animal products such as dairy, eggs, meat, and seafood, and may exclude honey.

You may consider starting a vegan diet for health benefits, weight loss, environmental, ethical, or religious reasons. Regardless of your motives, it is essential to have a roadmap for a healthy and balanced vegan plan.

Set your nutrition targets


We recommend a minimum of 1 gram of protein per kilogram body weight per day for vegans. This goal is slightly higher than the RDA of 0.8 gram/kilogram and accounts for decreased digestibility of some plant proteins, and some plant proteins being incomplete in amino acids.

Example: If you are 170 pounds, which converts to 77 kilograms (170 lbs divided by 2.2 lbs per kg), then 77 grams of protein per day is a reasonable target.

Another strategy is to use MyNetDiary’s default protein target of 20% of your calories from protein. While a healthy range of protein is 10-25% of calories, we use a somewhat higher goal to help minimize muscle loss and help you feel full.

Example: For a 1400 calorie plan, 20% of calories would be 70 grams of protein. Rather not do the math? MyNetDiary Premium can help you set your individual protein goal.

You will likely get enough protein if you eat a balanced vegan diet. When you give up meat, you have more room in your calorie budget for high-protein plant foods, such as legumes, nuts, seeds, and soy foods.

Vitamins and minerals

Healthy vegan eating plans are abundant in such vitamins and minerals as vitamin C and magnesium. Pay attention to key vitamins and minerals, such as iron, calcium, and vitamin D that can be more difficult to obtain from a vegan diet. A reliable source of vitamin B12 is crucial for vegans. B12 is found only in dairy foods, meat, or fortified foods.

There’s no need to guess if you are meeting your nutrient needs—you can set your mynetdiary tracker to monitor up to 50 nutrients, including iron, calcium, and vitamin B12.


Are you choosing a vegan diet for weight loss? A wise move as vegans tend to eat fewer calories and weigh less than meat-eaters. A healthy vegan eating plan focuses on filling foods such as beans, vegetables, and whole grains. Keep in mind, it is possible to eat a high-calorie, vegan diet, especially if you rely on processed foods.

Your calorie goal is no different than non-vegetarian plans. However, a very low-calorie plan could become challenging to meet your protein, vitamin, and mineral goals, making it essential to spend your calories on nutrient-packed foods.

Stock your kitchen

Starting a vegan diet is so much more than excluding meat! You will likely save money on your food bill, which frees up more of your budget for stocking up on appealing and nutrition-packed ingredients.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Grains Choose: Mostly whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, whole-wheat pasta, barley and oats.

Benefits: Whole grains are higher in fiber, potassium, and magnesium, and slightly higher in protein than refined grains. Fortified grains may also provide additional iron.

Fruits Choose: A variety of fresh, frozen, or canned fruits.

Benefits: Fruits provide vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Fruits high in vitamin C, such as oranges, strawberries, and kiwi, improve iron absorption.

Vegetables Choose: A variety of fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables.

Benefits: You can’t have a healthy vegetarian diet without vegetables. Vegetables provide fiber, antioxidants, potassium, and magnesium. Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens are packed with nutrients, while mushrooms add a savory taste to vegetarian dishes.

Soy products and meat substitutes Choose: Tofu, tempeh, edamame, roasted soy nuts, seitan, and “meat substitutes” such as veggie burgers.

Benefits: Soy provides a heart-healthy complete protein source. Meat substitutes make for convenient meals.

Legumes Choose: Dried, frozen, and canned beans, split peas and lentils.

Benefits: Legumes are packed with protein, fiber, potassium, and magnesium and contribute perfectly to soups, stews, chilis, and pasta dishes.

Nuts and seeds Choose: Almonds, almond butter, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and pumpkin seeds.

Benefits: Nuts and seeds make for convenient snacks, providing healthy fats, fiber, vitamin E, potassium, zinc, and magnesium. Walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds contain omega 3s.

Dairy substitutes Choose: Calcium-fortified non-dairy milk alternatives: soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, etc; non-dairy yogurt; vegan cheese substitutes.

Benefits: Many of these options provide protein, calcium (either naturally or fortified) and vitamin D (if fortified).

Fats and oils Choose: Avocados, olive oil, and vegetable oil.

Benefits: Plant-based oils are low in saturated fat and provide essential fatty acids and help with fat-soluble vitamin absorption.

Spices and seasonings Choose: Nutritional yeast, curry powder, vegetable broth or bouillon, “liquid smoke”, blackstrap molasses, miso, soy sauce, and tamari.

Benefits: These vegan pantry staples provide tons of flavor! A rich source of B vitamins, nutritional yeast is valued for its nutty flavor.

Try new recipes

A new world of flavors with meatless recipes opens up when you’re starting a vegan diet. Many cuisines, including Indian and Asian, lend themselves well to satisfying meatless meals.

MyNetDiary has more than 200 vegan recipes in our Premium Recipe collection, with more to come soon. View these recipes by selecting the vegan tag.

You can also import recipes from websites featuring delicious recipes, including Vegetarian TimesOldways, and more. You can also often modify beloved recipes with meat by eliminating or substituting the meat with crumbled tempeh, beans, or other plant-based protein sources. MyNetDiary will provide an updated analysis of your new recipe.

Is cardio or strength training better for weight loss? Learn the best exercise plan for you to meet your goals!

The debate likely won’t be resolved any time soon. It’s like asking if it is better to brush or floss your teeth—both are valuable, and ideally, you won’t choose one over the other. Yet if you are short on time, you may need to prioritize your exercise efforts. Learn whether cardio or strength-training is best for weight loss and how they affect body composition.

Calorie-burning differences

At first glance, aerobic exercise wins out for calorie burning. For example, a 180-pound person burns about 268 calories with 30 minutes of jogging. In contrast, they burn only about 114 calories with 30 minutes of weight training. Yet weight training burns more calories following the workout and increases muscle mass, which can pay off in additional calories burned over time.

Of course, you only burn calories with the activity you actually perform. If you struggle with motivation or if injuries prevent you from doing specific activities, start with the exercises that fit you best. Walking, bicycling, or body-weight resistance exercises all count!

Comparing strength training and aerobic exercise benefits

A meta-analysis of 45 studies published in the journal Obesity reported how strength training, aerobic exercise, or combining the two affected weight, body composition, and fitness. The researchers concluded that combining high-intensity aerobic exercise plus high-load strength training (heavier weights or higher resistance) proved most effective for weight loss, reducing body fat percentage and increasing fitness. The good news: any mode of exercise reduced body fat.

Short on time?

If time constraints limit your ability to exercise, the results of a study conducted by researchers at Duke Medical Center are for you. The researchers found that overweight individuals who only did cardio exercise lost weight, compared to those who spent about the same amount of time lifting weights who didn’t lose weight or reduce body fat. In addition, a third group who combined cardio plus weight lifting lost a similar amount of weight as the cardio-only group but spent about twice the time exercising.

The study does not justify abandoning strength training. On the contrary, the strength training-only and the combined exercise groups gained lean muscle mass and strength, important for overall health (plus a more toned appearance). Just know that if your priority is weight loss and your time is limited, cardio may be the best option over strength training, at least to start.

Look beyond weight loss

If you intend to exercise strictly as a means to lose weight, you may find yourself disappointed. However, don’t underestimate the value of exercise to improve your health and mood and help you feel stronger and more confident, regardless of weight. These pay-offs will help you stick to your plan.

Tracking your food and exercise with MyNetDiary allows you to see how small changes tip the balance in favor of weight loss. Most people find it more practical to create an energy deficit by eating less instead of relying on exercise to burn calories. After all, it takes a 30-minute jog to burn the calorie equivalent of a 16-ounce Starbucks Vanilla Bean Frappuccino downed in a few minutes.

So, if you ask whether cardio or strength training for weight loss is best, the answer would have to be, “It depends.” It depends on your time and health goals. Either way, something is better than nothing, so let’s get moving!

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