This is what happens to your body when you stop drinking

Significant weight loss, glowing skin, better sleep and less liver fat: A timeline of what happens to your body when you stop drinking alcohol – and the benefits start within just ONE hour

  • The dangers of excessive drinking are well known the world over
  • But some of the side effects may be causing damage we aren’t even aware of
  • FEMAIL created a timeline of potential benefits associated with giving up booze
  • Australian dietitians shared their advice and explained how good we could feel

The dangers of excessive alcohol consumption are well publicised and widely acknowledged across Australia.

Waking up the morning after a heavy drinking session is often accompanied by debilitating symptoms like a pounding headache, dry mouth and crushing waves of nausea.

But the damage inflicted by consistent alcohol intake goes beyond these obvious side effects, and may be having a serious impact on your health without you even realising it.

A short term timeline of benefits you could reap from giving up alcohol, which the Dry July Foundation is publicising this winter

Creator of the Zone diet Dr Barry Sears warned of the far reaching consequences of excessive alcohol, which can include anything from serious organ inflammation to lasting damage to your DNA.

But the good news is the speed at which our bodies recover from the many negative effects of drinking.

Inspired by the Dry July challenge, FEMAIL set out a timeline of benefits which you can reap by taking a break from the bottle (or giving it up for good).

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One hour

Just one hour after calling it a night (or day), the human body kicks into detox mode to cleanse the bloodstream and prevent alcohol poisoning.

12 – 24 hours

During this period, full detoxification begins and blood sugar stabilises.

‘It does depend on how much you’ve had to drink,’ performance dietitian Jessica Spendlove told FEMAIL.

‘We can only process a certain amount of alcohol per hour, which is roughly one standard drink per hour.

‘What a lot of people may not realise is when you’re drinking, your body can’t break down food either.

‘Because it can’t metabolise, the body stores whatever you’re eating as fat,’ she said.

Dietitian Jenny Champion highlighted the importance of fuelling the body with nutritional fruits and vegetables during this phase. 

Performance dietitian Jessica Spendlove shared her expertise on the benefits of giving up booze

72 hours 

By this stage, your body will have banished any of those lingering hangover symptoms.

Ms Champion said this is when we should feel fully back to ourselves.

Ms Spendlove added that sleep quality should gradually improve as we get an increasing amount of all important uninterrupted REM rest, vital for overall well being.

After one week

One week after parting ways with your favourite tipple you should start to sleep more deeply.

Skin should also develop a brighter tone and conditions exacerbated by alcohol such as eczema and rosacea may begin to improve.  

‘You may also begin to notice a general improvement in mood and mental clarity, concentration and the ability to get going in the morning,’ Ms Spendlove said.

Cutting out calorific pints with high sugar content can lead to significant weight loss and improved attention spans

Two weeks to one month later

Fellow dietitian Chloe McLeod said after two weeks off the booze, we may notice a reduction in our dress size.

‘Many people start to notice their waistline starts to shrink and potentially even drop a dress size by the end of the month, depending on how much alcohol was being consumed previously,’ she said.

Ms Champion added that after just fourteen days, liver fat reduces by 15 per cent.

‘The liver is an amazing organ which is capable of regenerating up top 80 per cent of existing damage,’ Ms Spendlove added.

The performance nutritionist also said the quality of skin, hair and nails should be visibly sturdier at this stage.

Opting for a dry period can improve mental clarity, skin tone and texture, hair and nail strength and overall physical health

One year on

After 12 months ‘on the dry’, Ms Champion said you could expect to lose a grand total of six kilograms on average.

Your risk of chronic conditions including breast, liver and mouth cancers also reduces.

‘Once you exceed one standard drink per hour, you are placing yourself at an increased risk of cardiac disease, as well as being more prone to extra energy intake through poor food choices which leads to weight gain and long term health implications,’ Ms Spendlove said.

Ms Spendlove is encouraging Australians to give Dry July a try in order to shape a healthier lifestyle while also raising money and awareness for cancer

The Dry July campaign was founded in 2008, and has since inspired more than 130,000 Australians to give up alcohol for one month in aid of cancer support organisations.

The initiative has raised $30 million for charity to date, and the money is used to ease the burden, reduce stress and add a bit of comfort for those affected by cancer across Australia. 

‘Dry July is a great incentive to detox and cleanse the body, continue to bolster good habits and set up some health oriented goals for the second half of the year,’ Ms Spendlove said.

For support for alcohol-related problems and addiction you can contact one of the many services available, speak to your GP, local health service or call a helpline. There are trained telephone counsellors available in every Australian state and territory. 

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