The recommended safe limit for alcohol consumption is two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women ( according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) (11). But let’s face it—many people exceed these recommendations. It may seem socially acceptable to drink heavily on weekends but when you want to quit because your health and well-being takes a hit, you may wonder what will happen if you give up alcohol. Cutting alcohol out for two weeks can have some impressive benefits, including weight loss, improved sleep, and increased energy levels. Let’s take a look at some of the science-backed benefits of giving up alcohol for two weeks.
What Happens After 2 Weeks Of Not Drinking?
Your liver is responsible for breaking down alcohol. When you drink alcohol, your liver produces a substance called acetaldehyde (6).
Acetaldehyde is then broken down using another substance called glutathione. But if you drink too much alcohol or too quickly, your liver can’t produce enough glutathione to break down all the acetaldehyde.
When you stop drinking alcohol for two weeks, your liver may have a chance to recover. It can start to repair some of the damage that’s been done and function more effectively.
Here’s a timeline of the symptoms and benefits you may experience after quitting alcohol for two weeks.
- Day one without alcohol: Withdrawal symptoms, commonly referred to as a “hangover” may peak. Your symptoms may range from mild—such as a headache or nausea—to severe, such as vomiting and shaking. If you’ve been drinking every night or heavily for many years, you may experience more severe symptoms.
- Days two to four: Your symptoms should start to improve. You may still have a headache or feel tired, but it’s nothing compared to the withdrawal symptoms you experienced on day one.
Again, if you’ve been drinking heavily for many years, your symptoms may take longer to improve. Delirium tremens, or DTs, is a severe form of alcohol withdrawal that can occur in heavy drinkers. Symptoms include confusion, hallucinations, and seizures. Severe cases of alcohol withdrawal often require hospitalization.
- Days five to seven: By day five or six, most people feel almost back to normal. If you are still experiencing symptoms, see a doctor.
- Week 2: After an entire week or more of giving up alcohol, you’ll experience more profound improvements in your health and wellness. Some notable changes include.
Alcohol has been shown to disrupt sleep (10). It may make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. After two weeks of sobriety, you should find it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.
Research indicates that quitting alcohol can increase your amount of REM sleep each night. This is the stage of sleep when your body repairs itself and consolidates memories (8).
A good night’s sleep spills over into the next day, making you more productive and less likely to make mistakes. You’ll also have more energy to exercise and be active, which are important for overall health and weight loss.
Dehydration is a common side effect of drinking alcohol (9). When you drink, alcohol influences the hormone that tells your body to produce more urine. This can lead to dehydration and make you feel thirsty.
After two weeks without alcohol, you should be better hydrated. Not only will you be drinking more water, but your body will also be better able to absorb and retain water. This can help improve your skin health, digestion, and brain function.
Cutting out alcohol can help you lose weight. Alcohol is high in calories and sugar, which can contribute to weight gain (4). Just one alcoholic drink can add hundreds of empty calories to your diet. Over time, these empty calories can lead to weight gain.
One study found higher BMI, percent body fat and waist circumference in individuals drinking five or more drinks per day compared to non-drinkers (3)
If you’re trying to lose weight, cutting out alcohol can help you reach your goals. Aside from reducing your calorie consumption, quitting can help you make better food choices. It can also reduce impulsive behavior which often leads to overeating.
Improved Mental Health
Heavy drinking can take a toll on your mental health. It’s been linked to depression, anxiety, and memory problems (16). If you’re struggling with mental health issues, cutting out alcohol may help improve your symptoms.
Not only can alcohol worsen existing mental health problems, but it can also lead to new ones. For example, alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a form of addiction that can develop with heavy drinking (21).
Symptoms of AUD include a strong need to drink, trouble controlling your drinking, and continued drinking even though it’s causing problems in your life. If you’re struggling with AUD, quitting alcohol can help you get your life back on track. Don’t be afraid to seek help with quitting.
Improved Gut Health
Heavy drinking can damage the lining of your gut, which can lead to inflammation. This can cause or worsen a variety of problems, including digestive issues, intestinal permeability, and inflammatory bowel disease (2).
Cutting out alcohol can help heal your gut and reduce inflammation. This can improve your digestion, increase nutrient absorption, and support your immune system (14).
Improved Liver Function
Heavy drinking can damage the liver and lead to a variety of problems, including cirrhosis, fatty liver disease, and hepatitis. If you have liver damage, quitting alcohol for good can help improve your liver function (5).
In some cases, the damage caused by heavy drinking is irreversible (13). However, quitting alcohol can help slow the progression of liver damage and improve your overall health.
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Improved Skin Health
Alcohol can cause a variety of problems for your skin, including dryness, redness, and inflammation. It can also make existing skin conditions worse (19). For example, alcohol use has been identified as a trigger for psoriasis (18).
If you’re struggling with skin problems, cutting out alcohol may help improve your symptoms. Not only can alcohol worsen existing skin conditions, but it can also lead to new ones.
Drinking alcohol can be expensive. If you’re trying to save money, cutting out alcohol can help. Not only will you save money on drinks, but you’ll also spend less on things like taxis and Uber rides home.
The savings from cutting out alcohol can add up quickly. If you’re trying to save money or pay off debt, quitting drinking can be a smart financial decision.
Reduced Risk Of Health Problems
Heavy drinking can lead to a variety of health problems over the long term, including liver damage, heart disease, and certain types of cancer (15). If you’re struggling with any of these health problems, cutting out alcohol may help improve your symptoms.
How Long After Giving Up Alcohol Will I Lose Weight?
How quickly you lose weight after quitting alcohol depends on a few factors.
For example, if you were a heavy drinker, it’s likely that you were consuming many more calories than you needed. When you stop drinking, your calorie intake will go down, which can lead to weight loss.
If you were a moderate drinker, you may not see a significant change in your weight after quitting alcohol. However, you may still enjoy the other benefits of giving up alcohol.
Will I Lose Belly Fat If I Stop Drinking Alcohol?
Quitting alcohol alone may or may not help you lose belly fat. However, it can help you lose weight overall, which should also reduce the amount of visceral fat in your abdomen.
Visceral fat is the type of fat that surrounds your organs and increases your risk of health problems (1). If you’re trying to lose belly fat, cutting out alcohol can be a helpful step.
You should also incorporate other lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise. These lifestyle changes can help you lose weight and reduce visceral fat (22).
How Long Does It Take To Detox From Alcohol?
The length of time it takes to detox from alcohol depends on a few factors, including how much you were drinking and how long you’ve been drinking.
Most people can detox from alcohol in a matter of days. However, some people may experience withdrawal symptoms, which can last for weeks or longer.
If you’re trying to detox from heavy alcohol use, it’s important to do it under the supervision of a medical professional. Withdrawal symptoms can be serious, and in some cases, life-threatening.
What Causes Weight Gain After Quitting Alcohol?
In some cases, people gain weight after quitting alcohol. This weight gain is usually due to an increase in calorie intake. This is especially true if you turn to food to ease withdrawal symptoms or cravings.
Weight gain can also be due to an increase in appetite. Some people find that they’re hungrier when they stop drinking. This increased appetite can lead to weight gain if you’re not careful.
If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s important to be mindful of your calorie intake. Make sure you’re eating healthy foods and not overeating. You may also want to consider adding more physical activity to your routine (22).
If you’re worried about gaining weight after quitting alcohol, try replacing high-calorie drinks with water or unsweetened tea. This can help you stay hydrated and avoid adding extra calories to your diet.
When Should I See A Doctor?
If you’re struggling with alcohol abuse, it’s important to seek professional help. Alcohol addiction is a serious problem that can lead to health problems, financial problems, and relationship problems (20).
Signs of addiction include drinking more alcohol than you intended to, being unable to cut back on drinking, and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop (20).
If you’re struggling with addiction, there are a variety of treatment options available. Treatment can help you overcome addiction and regain control of your life.
Some treatment options include (12):
This type of treatment is designed for people who are struggling with severe addiction. Inpatient treatment involves staying in a rehabilitation center for some time. While in treatment, you’ll receive 24-hour care and support.
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This type of treatment is designed for people who are struggling with less severe addiction, or as a transition from inpatient care. Outpatient treatment involves attending counseling sessions and support groups. You’ll be able to live at home while receiving treatment.
This type of therapy can help you identify the underlying causes of your addiction. It can also help you develop healthy coping skills.
This type of therapy provides support and encouragement from others who are struggling with addiction. Group therapy can help you develop healthy coping skills and build a support system.
Giving up alcohol can have several benefits, including weight loss, improved health, and increased productivity. If you’re struggling with addiction, there are a variety of treatment options available to help you overcome your alcohol dependence.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- a critical review of methods for visceral adipose tissue analysis (2014, birpublications.org)
- Alcohol and Gut-Derived Inflammation (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Alcohol consumption and body composition in a population-based sample of elderly Australian men (2013, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Alcohol Consumption and Obesity: An Update (2015, link.springer.com)
- Alcoholic Liver Disease: Pathogenesis and Current Management (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Alcohol Metabolism: An Update (2007, pubs.niaaa.nih.gov)
- Alcohol Metabolism (2012, sciencedirect.com)
- Alcohol’s Effects on Sleep in Alcoholics (2001, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Dehydration: A new alcohol theory (1990, sciencedirect.com)
- Disturbed Sleep and Its Relationship to Alcohol Use (2009, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Drinking Levels Defined (n.d., niaaa.nih.gov)
- EARLY INTERVENTION, TREATMENT, AND MANAGEMENT OF SUBSTANCE USE DISORDERS (2016, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Exploring Alcohol’s Effects on Liver Function (1997, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Gut Microbiome: Profound Implications for Diet and Disease (2019, mdpi.com)
- Health Risks and Benefits of Alcohol Consumption (2000, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Mental health and alcohol use: a cross-sectional study of the Finnish general population (2014, academic.oup.com)
- Physiology, Liver (2022, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Psoriasis and alcohol (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The effects of alcohol and illicit drug use on the skin (2021, sciencedirect.com)
- The Past and Future of Research on Treatment of Alcohol Dependence (2010, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder (2020, niaaa.nih.gov)
- Weight-Loss and Maintenance Strategies (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)