Optavia and Alcohol: A Beginner’s Guide, Pros and Cons

Alcohol is an organic compound that’s commonly consumed as a beverage. It’s made through the fermentation of sugars by yeast. Contrary to popular belief, not all alcohols are drinkable; the one we’re talking about is ethanol. Dr. Henk F. J. Hendriks, in his 2020 review, points out that alcohol has been a part of human culture for ages but comes with health implications.

Alcohol has a dual effect on health, as outlined by Jürgen Rehm from the University of Toronto. Light to moderate drinking (up to 14g/day for women and 28g/day for men) may reduce risks for cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes. However, heavy drinking leads to a slew of problems like liver disease, pancreatitis, and even cancer. So, it’s not all “cheers” as some social media influencers might have you believe.

Alcohol isn’t recommended on the Optavia 5 and 1 plan, but if you switch to their Optimal Health 3 and 3 plan, you can have an occasional drink.

When asking what alcohol can you drink on Optavia, the 3 and 3 maintenance plan allows for specific amounts, like 8 fl. oz. of beer or 5 fl. oz. of dry wine, as outlined in the Optavia Healthy exchange list. So, if you see a tweet saying you can’t ever drink on Optavia, that’s not entirely true—it depends on the plan you’re on.

This article covers topics such as how alcohol affects your Optavia diet plan, what the Optavia guidelines are for consuming alcohol, what some Optavia-approved alcoholic drinks are, what the best alcohol to drink while on the Optavia diet is, and what types of alcohol are a complete no-go on Optavia.

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How does alcohol affect the Optavia diet plan?

Alcohol can disrupt the Optavia diet plan by adding extra calories and affecting your metabolism. Optavia aims to put your body in a fat-burning state, but alcohol’s 7.1 kcal per gram can throw that off.

According to a 2011 study by Carmen Sayon-Orea et al., alcohol consumption can lead to weight gain, which contradicts the weight loss goals of Optavia. The study by the University of Navarra suggests that heavy drinking is more likely to hamper your weight loss results. Fitness coach Jillian Michaels has mentioned in her Instagram posts that alcohol is a “weight loss killer.” So, if you’re looking to lose weight on Optavia, alcohol is not your friend.

Drinking alcohol can slow down your metabolism, making it harder for your body to enter the fat-burning state that Optavia aims for. Alcohol is metabolized in the liver, which diverts the liver’s energy from fat metabolism. Dr. Layne Norton, a renowned nutrition expert, has said that alcohol can “put the brakes on fat loss.” The science shows that alcohol interferes with your metabolic rate, making it tough to achieve Optavia’s objectives.

How does drinking alcohol impact Optavia’s fat-burning state?

Drinking alcohol can kick you out of Optavia’s fat-burning state by providing extra calories and affecting liver metabolism. Alcohol’s 7.1 kcal per gram adds up quickly, and its metabolism in the liver takes priority over fat metabolism. Dr. Rhonda Patrick has mentioned in her podcasts that alcohol can “disrupt metabolic processes.”

The number of drinks it takes to kick you out of Optavia’s fat-burning state can vary, but even one drink can have an impact. Dr. Patrick said that “it doesn’t take much alcohol to disrupt fat metabolism.”

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Given that alcohol has more kcal per gram can carbohydrates, even a single drink can add enough calories to disrupt the fat-burning state. Getting back into Optavia’s fat-burning state after drinking alcohol can take several hours to a day, depending on how much you’ve consumed.

What are the Optavia guidelines for consuming alcohol?

Optavia’s guidelines on alcohol are pretty clear-cut. For their 5 and 1 weight loss plan, alcohol is a no-go. It messes with your calorie count and satiety levels. But if you’re on the Optavia 3 and 3 plan, light beer, distilled spirits, and wine can be part of your “Free Choice” meal. A 2019 study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing published in the Obesity Journal backs this up, showing that those who abstain from alcohol during the 5 and 1 plan lose more weight.

Optavia coaches generally echo the official guidelines. They emphasize that drinking alcohol, especially on the 5 and 1 plan, can be a roadblock to your weight loss journey. The following table shows the Optavia alcohol list including the beverage type and amount allowed on the Optimal Health 3 and 3 plan.

AmountOptavia alcohol drinks
8 fl. oz.Beer
12 fl. oz.Light beer
1 ½ fl. oz.Distilled spirits: vodka, rum, gin, whiskey (80 or 86 proof)
2 fl. oz.Sake
5 fl. oz.Wine: dry, red or white
3 ½ fl. oz.Wine: dessert (sherry)
Optavia-approved alcoholic drinks

In terms of calorie limits for alcohol on the Optavia diet, on the 3 and 3 plan you can have 8 fl. oz. of beer or 5 fl. oz. of dry wine. Given the calorie counts—100 for regular beer, 80 for light beer, and around 125 for dry wine—it’s clear that you should be mindful of these numbers when planning your meals.

What are the Optavia guidelines for consuming alcohol on a weekly basis?

When asking how many drinks are allowed per week on the Optavia plan, we can refer to the Optavia healthy exchange list, which states that one drink per day is allowed. We can also look at the CDC’s recommendations, which suggest no more than 2 drinks per day for men and 1 for women. So, if you’re sticking to these general guidelines, you’re looking at a max of 14 drinks per week for men and 7 for women.

What are the health benefits of drinking alcohol on Optavia?

The health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption, according to a review in the Annual Review of Food Science and Technology by Henk F J Hendriks, are:

  1. Reduced Mortality Risk: Light and moderate drinking (up to 14g per day for women and 28g per day for men) may be linked to a lower risk of dying, mainly due to reduced risks for cardiovascular diseases.
  2. Lower Risk of Type-2 Diabetes: Moderate alcohol consumption can lower the risk of developing type-2 diabetes.
  3. Potential Mental Health Benefits: Some studies and experts suggest that moderate alcohol consumption can help reduce stress and anxiety levels.

What are the health risks of drinking alcohol on Optavia?

The health risks of drinking alcohol while on the Optavia diet are:

  1. Stops Fat Burning: Alcohol inhibits fat oxidation, meaning it halts your body’s ability to burn fat, according to Appetite Journal.
  2. Nutrient Absorption: Alcohol can mess with your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, leading to malnutrition and deficiencies, as stated in The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.
  3. Dehydration: Alcohol acts as a diuretic, causing you to lose fluids and become dehydrated, as mentioned in the Alcohol Research and Health Journal.

What are some quick Optavia alcohol hacks?

The following list shows 5 quick Optavia alcohol hacks.

  • Stick to spirits like vodka or gin, which are lower in calories and carbs.
  • Use calorie-free mixers like soda water or lemon juice to keep your drink Optavia-friendly.
  • Measure your alcohol portions using a jigger to avoid overconsumption.
  • Opt for dry wines over sweet wines to minimize sugar intake.
  • Pre-plan your drinking days and adjust your meal plan accordingly to stay within your daily caloric limit.

To get quick Optavia alcohol hacks, have a chat with your coach to tailor them to your specific needs.

What is the best way to discuss alcohol options with your Optavia coach?

The best way to discuss alcohol options with your Optavia coach is to schedule a one-on-one consultation to go over your specific dietary needs and lifestyle. Prepare a list of questions in advance, including the types of alcohol you usually consume and how often. Your coach can then provide Optavia-specific guidelines and alternatives, ensuring you stay on track with your weight loss goals.

What is the best alcohol to drink on the Optavia diet?

The best alcohol to drink on the Optavia diet is gin, red wine, champagne, vodka, and light beers.

  • Gin: You can drink gin on Optavia, especially if you’re mindful of the mixers. A standard gin and tonic has around 150-200 calories and zero carbs. Mix it with diet tonic and a splash of lime to keep it low-calorie.
  • Red Wine: You can drink red wine on Optavia, particularly if you opt for the dry varieties. A glass of dry red wine has about 125 calories and 3-4 grams of carbs. It’s a classy choice for date night, just keep it to one glass.
  • Champagne: You can drink champagne on Optavia if you’re on the 3 and 3 maintenance plan. It’s low in carbs and typically has around 90-100 calories per 4-ounce serving.
  • Light Beer: You can drink beer on Optavia, but only the light version with fewer calories per serving. Light beers can range from 90-110 calories and about 5-10 grams of carbs.
  • Vodka: You can drink vodka on Optavia, but moderation is key. A shot has around 96 calories and zero carbs. Mix it with soda water and a twist of lemon for a low-calorie cocktail. Ideal for those who like to keep it simple.

What is the best low-carb alcohol to drink on the diet?

The best alcohol to drink on a diet, especially a low-carb one, is straight liquor like vodka, whiskey, or tequila. These spirits have zero carbs, so you can enjoy them without worrying about derailing your diet. Mix them with diet soda or sparkling water, and you’re good to go.

What is the best time to drink alcohol when following the Optavia diet?

The best time to drink alcohol when following  Optavia 5&1 is earlier in the day, preferably before 6 p.m., to dodge those late-night snack cravings. Opt for low-carb options like vodka or gin and balance each alcoholic drink with a glass of water.

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What is the best alternative to alcohol on the Optavia diet?

The best alcohol-free indulgence on the Optavia diet is sparkling water with a splash of natural fruit juice. It’s low in calories, offers a fizzy kick like champagne, and fits within the diet’s guidelines.

What non-alcoholic beverages are Optavia-approved?

You can drink plain water, sparkling water, unsweetened black and green tea, as well as zero-calorie sodas like Diet Coke and Pepsi Black while on Optavia. These Optavia-approved drinks are low in calories and carbs, making them suitable for weight management.

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