One of the most frequently asked questions I get is about alcohol. “Is drinking OK while I’m doing your program”? Recently, the topic of alcohol has come up in one my private Facebook groups and so I thought I would devote an article to this topic.
A little wake up call before we get started
Before I go any further into this article, if you are concerned about “drinking” while embarking on a health, fitness and weight loss program, you gotta ask yourself why are you so concerned about it? If you have to ask that question, let’s be real here… chances are drinking might be playing a larger role in your life than it should, and you may need to seriously re-think your “drinking habits”.
Socializing and alcohol
As with food, alcohol is also affiliated with being social. We go out to bars, clubs and restaurants , and alcohol is almost always part of the equation.
If you keep up with me on Facebook, it’s no secret that I have my favorite Rock Club in my area that I like to hang out at and I do enjoy a drink or two while I’m there.
When going to restaurants, I don’t always order a drink with dinner, but I will occasionally order a glass of wine to have with dinner and I’m good with just having the 1 glass.
Alcohol and weight loss – One of the things you need to be mindful about when you’re drinking is to yes, drink responsibly, but also that most alcoholic beverages are high in calories which can impede on your weight loss efforts.
The Calories – Alcohol is pretty much void of any nutrients and is loaded with lots of empty calories, so depending on your drink of choice and the amount you drink, you can literally be drinking away what should be your daily caloric intake and let me tell you…. that can add up pretty quickly.
Beer is a popular beverage of choice amongst many people and on average, a light beer contains 100 primarily carbohydrate calories. How many beers on average a night do you consume? Take that number and times it by 100 calories and that doesn’t include the calories you consumed throughout your day.
My beverage of choice…. Red wine. A glass of red wine has 130 calories and is low in carbs and has lots of healthy anti-oxidants, but like any other alcoholic beverage, you do want to consume in moderation. I usually don’t go beyond 2 glass during the course of an evening.
Vodka, Brandy, Scotch, Cognac and Whiskey have on average 66 calories per shot and 2 grams of carbs. It’s when you add the juices and sodas to these that the calorie count and sugar intake jacks up.
Mixed drinks , frozen drinks and Sangria are basically high calorie sugar bombs so my advice to you is to stay away from them altogether.
If you want to get a good idea of just how many calories per day/week you consume from alcohol, check out this website Alcohol Calories Calculator. Indicate your average number of drinks of choice per week. The calculator will show you the calories you consume per week from alcohol beverages.
Another reason why alcohol can wreak havoc on your weight loss goals…. the post drinking munchies. Let’s face it, after a night of drinking, there’s nothing like stopping off at your favorite diner, Waffle House, or any other late night eatery that’s open late or in the wee hours of the morning and let’s face it… when it comes to ordering food after a night of drinking, all bets are off. Before you know it, between the alcohol and the late night munchies, you’ve consumed close to or over 1,000 calories, only to crawl home and sleep it off.
Alcohol and Fat Loss – Alcohol is primarily carbs, but it is metabolized differently from most carbs you consume due to the fermentation of it. Alcohol interferes with fat burning, which in turns, interferes with your weight loss and fat loss efforts.
Alcohol and hydration – Alcohol acts as a diuretic and causes dehydration. Essentially you are losing more fluid than you are taking in. Alcohol blocks the release of a hormone that is needed for water reabsorption. Without this hormone — called antidiuretic hormone, or ADH — the kidneys do not reabsorb the water; instead they excrete it as urine. Over time, this can cause damage to your kidneys.
Alcohol and Insomnia – I know whenever I have a few drinks, all I want to do is pass out and you find yourself falling asleep rather quickly from having had a few. While studies have proven that alcohol does indeed induce sleep at first, it interrupts the second sleep cycle, known as REM sleep. REM stands for “rapid eye movement”, and it is the most restful period of sleep, so by disrupting it the sufferer’s quality of rest is greatly reduced. For people who consume alcohol regularly, the withdrawal affects they experience during sleep reduce the effects of sleep. Therefore, the combination of insomnia and alcohol can lead to prolonged problems getting a good night’s sleep.
Alcohol and Fitness – Obviously a night of too much alcoholic debauchery can definitely affect your efforts in the gym and the effects can last up to 24 -48 hours afterwards so you definitely want to avoid doing too much excessive drinking if you’re wanting to get the most out of your workouts.
Alcohol also impairs protein synthesis and can affect your ability to put on and maintain lean muscle.
My final conclusion
Go out, enjoy yourself, have fun, drink responsibly and try to be aware of how many calories you’re consuming and set a caloric limit. Use the Alcohol Calories Calculator before you go out which will help keep you in check. If you’re mindful about how many calories you’re consuming with every drink you have, chances are you may end up drinking less.
If you have a problem stopping after 2-3 drinks, chances are you probably need to lay off the stuff.
If you do wake up the next day feeling a bit out of sorts from too much “fun”, add some sea salt to your water and drink a lot of water and have a banana to restore your potassium levels. This is will help get you re-hydrated while restoring your potassium and electrolytes.