By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — People who frequently drink alcohol had lower rates of obesity, according to a new study. But what about all the advice from doctors and experts who say if you want to lose weight, you have to stop or limit drinking?

There’s been all sorts of research on alcohol — both good and bad.

At one point, researchers said wine prevented heart disease. Now, most doctors say there are very few benefits associated with drinking.

One new study looked at the impact of alcohol on weight.

It’s the age-old question: Is drinking alcohol making me fat?

There’s the basic calorie consideration — a drink can have between 100 to 500 calories.

“For people who are trying to lose some weight, cutting out empty calories is a good place to start,” Dr. Lesie Heinberg said. “Oftentimes, beverages are a big source of empty calories, whether it’s soda, whether it’s juice, whether it’s sweet tea, or whether it’s beer, wine and cocktails – any of those things add calories, but really without nutrition.”

The newest research from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine compared data from a national nutrition survey regarding the participants’ alcohol use within the past year, their current weight status and whether they were attempting to lose weight.

“For both men and women, the individuals who drink more frequently actually had lower rates of obesity,” Heinberg said.

It sounds great, but the research didn’t quantify frequent drinking.

“However, what they found only for the women, was that heavier drinking or engaging in more binge drinking, that was associated with an increased risk of obesity,” Heinberg said.

Women who binge drink — having four or more drinks in a two-hour period — were not only more likely to be obese, but were also more likely to be dieting.

Experts say alcohol impairs judgment and lowers inhibitions, making people more likely to make bad food choices.

Alcohol also impacts metabolism. Instead of burning fat, your body is burning the calories from the alcohol so it will take you longer to lose weight.

Overall, alcohol is still not helpful for weight loss despite the findings that said frequent drinkers weren’t obese.

Theoretically, if you have one drink a day and limit your calories from food, you won’t be obese but it’s not the healthiest idea.

Stephanie Stahl