Dry January '23 for weight loss? Experts claim there's something in it

Kim Schewitz January 3, 2023
Dry January '23 for weight loss? Experts claim there's something in it
Picture: Getty Images

Dry January 2023 is upon us and this year weight loss has been flagged as one of the possible benefits not drinking alcohol can provide.

The aim of the campaign is to get people thinking about their alcohol consumption and assess how cutting out alcohol for a month could affect them in a positive way.

Typically, we think of the mental and physical health benefits associated with cutting alcohol consumption but some who have participated in Dry January swear by its role in helping them lose weight. Some studies suggest weight loss can be a fairly common consequence of Dry January too.

We explore the validity of Dry January for weight loss and other benefits of reducing your alcohol consumption.

What is Dry January 2023? 

Dry January 2023 marks the tenth anniversary of the campaign that aims to get us thinking about whether a month of being alcohol-free can really make a difference long-term.

The campaign was launched officially in 2013 but started in February 2011 when Emily Robinson, now an employee at Alcohol Change UK, decided to give up alcohol for a month before she ran her first half-marathon. She claimed she slept better, lost weight, and enjoyed more energy after an alcohol-free month.

Alcohol Change UK, the charity responsible for the campaign, aims to create a society free from the harm excessive alcohol consumption can cause. In 2015, the charity partnered with Public Health England and started rolling out radio advertisements and an official app to get more people involved.

Over the years, the campaign has gone from having 4,000 participants in 2013 to 130,000 in 2022.

Studies claim cutting alcohol can help with weight loss 

Some studies claim Dry January can lead to weight loss for many participants. For instance, research led by Dr Richard de Visser at the University of Sussex in 2019 reported that of 800 participants almost three-fifths (58 per cent) lost weight.

In an article for New Scientist, via Alchohol Change UK, Professor Kevin Moore, a consultant in liver health services at University College London Medical Centre, claimed: “Stopping drinking for a month alters liver fat, cholesterol and blood sugar and helps [Dry January participants] lose weight.”

Speaking to Metro, Dr Niall Campbell, addiction expert at The Priory Group, claimed: “By the end of Dry January you are likely to have reduced your calorie intake by 3,840 for the month if you used to drink six glasses of 175ml wine a week, or 4,320 calories over the month if you used to drink six pints of lager a week.

“Removing alcohol from your diet for four weeks can also help to improve your liver function, as your liver will start to shed excess fat.”

Dry January before-and-after posts

Some Dry January participants swear by it as a great way to lose weight.

One Twitter user posted her ‘before and after’ from Dry Jan 2022:

Another Dry January 2021 participant said they felt like an ‘after photo’ only five days after starting Dry January:

Other possible benefits of Dry January

There are many claims surrounding benefits people might enjoy by trying Dry January in 2023. Dr De Visser’s report claims people can see improvements in skin, sleep, energy levels and an overall sense of achievement.

De Visser also claimed some participants in the University of Sussex study continued to experience benefits after Dry January, particularly their ability to control alcohol consumption.

He claimed: “The simple act of taking a month off alcohol helps people drink less in the long term. By August, people are reporting one extra dry day per week.”

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Kim Schewitz is a London-based staff writer at The Focus and HITC. She is a gold-standard NCTJ-qualified journalist with a passion for pop culture, politics, feminism, and trends. She has previously written for publications including The i paper and Glamour UK and previously worked in local news. Kim graduated from the University of Bristol in 2020 with a first-class degree in French and Spanish. She is passionate about modern languages and has spent time living in Paris and Barcelona.