Short answer, is Yes it CAN But there are some things you can do to minimize fat gain.
In any fat loss plan, there are three main components that should be priority: Diet, Exercise, and Sleep. A moderate amount of alcohol can increase total calories, decrease your motivation for exercise, and negatively affect your sleep.
When you drink, alcohol passes through your liver, then into your blood, and then back into your liver where it breaks down some of the alcohol into Acetate.
Acetate is what makes alcohol toxic for our bodies. When acetate enters your blood, it INHIBITS FAT BURNING and most of the fatty acids in your blood are stored. This is why alcohol has a high potential to make you gain unwanted weight.
But here are some tips to help minimize the Fat storage if you do decide to drink:
1. Minimize Fat intake on the day you drink - this will minimize the amount of fatty acids in circulation so your body has less to store
2. Eat at a calorie deficit leading up to a drinking day- you can deplete your liver glycogen by doing 2-3 days low carb days leading up to the day you are going to drink. This will increase insulin sensitivity and stimulate your body to store carbs as glycogen instead of fat.
3. Workout earlier in the day or take a rest day on drinking days- alcohol limits protein synthesis and recovery from training. When alcohol is in your system, fat gets stored and protein gets burned.
4. Eat a lot of slow digesting protein and high fiber carbs before you drink- the food will help break down a portion of the alcohol ans stimulate blood flow to the liver. It also helps stimulate production on liver enzymes that will help break down the alcohol. A good high protein, high fiber carb meal will cut the damage from the alcohol almost in half. Food ideas: Egg Whites, Chicken breast, Casein protein, and vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli
Important information to remember:
Alchohol has 7.1 calories per gram
Lite Beer & Clear Liquor is around 100 calories/drink
Wine is around 125 calories/drink
Beer is around 150 calories/drink
*The Additional calories can add up fast and put you in a calorie surplus
Unlike other macronutrient that fill you up, alcohol doesn't. In face, it can actually increase hunger (late night Whataburger runs anyone?) so be prepared with a high protein meal when you get back home so you don't binge on every carb in your pantry.
The bottom line is that if fat loss is your goal, 1 or 2 drinks once a week is not going to ruin your progress. But if you can avoid it, that is even better (I know, I know, NOT what you want to hear!).