What Really Happens To Your Body When You Quit Drinking


We all love to enjoy a few drinks. But it’s easy to get carried away when drinking- with one every now and then turning into many every weekend.

From a pounding headache the morning after, to more severe long-term health issues, alcohol has some pretty detrimental impacts on our health.

So, if you’re contemplating quitting drinking, here are just some of the amazing long and short term changes that happen to the body from the moment you have your last drink.

Short-term benefits


1. You’ll sleep better

Alcohol dramatically affects quality of sleep, leaving you feeling tired and sluggish the next morning.

It does this by disrupting your natural sleep cycle. Research has shown that when you drink alcohol before bed you may fall asleep much more quickly, however as the night goes on, you spend less time in a deep sleep phase and more time in a less restful phase known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.

Result of quitting: your sleep quality will improve and you’ll have increased energy levels throughout the day.

2. You’ll look better

Alcohol severely dehydrates your body, causing your skin and eyes to look dull and lifeless.  Drinking deprives the skin of vitamins and nutrients as well as causing the face to look bloated and puffy.

Result of quitting: vast improvements in symptoms such as parched and dry flakey skin, red cheeks, dandruff and eczema.

3. You’ll be able to lose weight more easily

It goes without saying, alcoholic drinks are jam packed full of empty calories, so cutting it from your diet will make it much easier to lose weight. Extensive research reveals that the body cannot store alcohol and therefore must metabolise it right away. This causes other metabolic processes to suffer, contributing to potential weight gain.

Result of quitting: a reduction in calorie consumption and a more efficient metabolism (ie. easier to lose weight and keep it off!)

4. You’ll build lean muscle

If you’re in a program like 12WBT, one that involves regular resistance style training, alcohol disrupts your ability to build new muscle.

Studies have shown that alcohol reduces the body’s capacity to synthesise protein by 15-20% after 24hrs of consuming high doses of alcohol. It also greatly decreases the production of human growth hormone, significantly slowing the muscle growth and repair process.

Result of quitting: increased ability to build lean muscle mass, helping your body burn calories more efficiently

5. You’ll boost your immunity

Alcohol consumption disrupts immune pathways and causes inflammation and over-exertion of the immune system.

A recent study has linked these disruptions with impaired ability to defend against infection, hindered recovery from tissue injury and, most concerning, linking it to organ damage.

Result of quitting: your body will have a far better chance of fighting off nasty bugs and infections and recover faster from injury.

6. You’ll enhance your brainpower

Alcohol affects the frontal and temporal lobes in the brain, impacting the balance and function of neurotransmitters. This explains symptoms of grogginess and forgetfulness resultant from a big night out. Numerous studies have reported that high doses of alcohol can significantly impact on your learning, problem-solving, memory abilities and other complex human behaviours.

Result of quitting: you’ll allow your structural brain to repair itself, increasing alertness and daily cognitive functioning

Long-term benefits


1. You’ll reduce your risk of chronic illness

Extensive research has directly linked excessive alcohol consumption to 7 different kinds of cancer, including breast, liver, bowel and mouth cancer. This is because alcohol damages your DNA and stops cells from producing and repairing DNA correctly. Furthermore, excessive drinking raises blood cholesterol, increasing your risk of developing atherosclerosis (clogged arteries that can lead to stroke).

Result of quitting: decreased risk of stroke, heart disease and numerous cancers

2. You’ll improve your liver health

The liver functions to turn glucose into fat, sending it around the body to store when needed. However, studies have shown that alcohol affects the way the liver can transfer fat. It causes the liver itself to get stuffed with fatty tissue, becoming swollen and risking the potential onset of fatty liver disease. This inflammation over time can lead to the build-up of scar tissue, also known as cirrhosis.

Result of quitting: quitting alcohol can allow liver fat to decrease dramatically, with a recent study claiming those who drink in large amounts can reduce liver fat by up to 40% in just one month

Stephanie King BAppSc (Ex&SpSc), MBus (Marketing)
With a strong passion for human health, nutrition and physiological functioning, Stephanie lives and breathes all things wellness. Her Bachelor of Applied Science in Exercise and Sport allowed her to delve deeply into the inner workings of the human body and develop a strong understanding of how to integrate physical activity with disease prevention and the promotion of good health, rehabilitation, nutrition and sports performance. If she’s not training at the gym or going for runs, you’ll find her sipping on an iced long black near one of Sydney’s harbour or beach spots!

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