About one-third of Americans made the same type of New Year's resolution on January 1: to change or take care of their bodies in some way, shape, or form. Whether or not they'll find success comes down to the specific method they choose to achieve their goals—and for many, that's likely some combination of dieting and fitness.
But what if we told you that there was a science-backed way to transform your body this month without setting foot in a gym—or embarking on a restricted eating plan, for that matter? Experts agree that one of the quickest ways to see and feel results from the inside out is to do just one single thing: Give up alcohol, at least temporarily.
Keep reading to find out exactly how a Dry January can help you lose weight, sleep better, clear up your skin, and more.
What is Dry January?
Put simply, it's just giving up alcohol for the first month of the year. It's a New Year's resolution that has gained popularity over the past few years, giving way to the colloquial Dry January label. (Consider the Instagram hashtag, which leads to tens of thousands of images ranging from colorful mocktail recipes to inspiring wellness posts.) The idea is that it's a temporary yet effective and totally comprehensive way to detox your body during a time of year when health and better habits are at the forefront of most people's minds.
And that's the thing: The odds for most New Year's resolutions aren't great. In fact, nearly half of people who make resolutions will abandon them by the end of January. Choosing one single thing to give up—and for a finite amount of time, at that—is expressly more doable than completely overhauling your lifestyle indefinitely. And there are concrete numbers to back that notion up: In a study of Dry January participants, researchers at the University of Sussex found that 71% stayed abstinent for the entire month. (That's significant since only about 58% of people who make resolutions at all will stick with them through January.)
What are the benefits of Dry January?
Where do we begin? First things first, you're much more likely to lose weight. Alcohol is high in both calories and sugar, which are huge hurdles alone if you're hoping to shift the scale. Research also shows a direct correlation between alcohol intake and body fat percentage—by cutting off your intake altogether, you could lose inches from your waist, and an average of 13 pounds if you were to stick with abstinence for the full year. (This isn't even to mention that you can kiss the drunchies goodbye.)
Next up, you'll sleep better. As sleepy as a juicy glass of red wine can make us feel, alcohol can seriously disrupt our REM cycle, and since that's the type of sleep that refreshes and reboots our mind most, messing with it spells disaster for our energy and focus the following day.
Finally, your skin will improve. Depending on your drink of choice, alcohol can make your skin more irritated, dry, haggard, and acne-prone. Registered dietitian Jenny Champion tells us that you'll see the most significant change in your complexion around the fourth week.
What's the easiest way to go about it?
Well, you are still giving something up, so that requires a little willpower. Your strategy really comes down to what you already know about yourself. Keep yourself from feeling deprived by treating yourself to a fancy, superfood-packed mocktail—this recipe from Sakara Life looks delicious. If you're not the type of person who can sit in a bar with a soda water in hand, then suggest another booze-free outing for you and your friends. Capitalize on the detoxification process by engaging in other activities that pamper your body and mind. And above all else, remind yourself that it's only a matter of weeks—and speaking from experience, you'll feel (and look!) so great at the end.