I am awoken by a text this morning from one of my clients stating “Good Morning! Sorry to bother you because I’m sure you’re busy… My friends invited me to happy hour tonight and I wanted to ask for your recommendations on what I should do….”
The question boils down to whether someone who has certain athletic/health goals should go out and partake in the spirits when everyone else is?
Should you toast up or not? And if so what is the beverage of choice? I’m here to set the record straight
Bottom line, alcohol can hinder your efforts if you are trying to lose body fat. Alcohol adds calories into your diet, messes with your hormones and can stimulate appetite, leading to even more calories consumed. That’s where the fat gain comes from.
If you drink in moderation, if you’re aware of the calories in the alcohol, if you’re aware of the calories from additional food intake consumed during or after drinking, and if you compensate for all of the above accordingly, you won’t get hinder your efforts.
Before you rush off to the pub for a cold one, hold that thought for a minute while you consider this first: The empty alcohol calories displace the nutrient dense calories!
When you’re on a fat loss program you have a fairly small “calorie budget”, so you need to give some careful thought to how those calories should be “spent.” For example, if a female is on a 1500 calorie per day diet, does she really want to “spend” 500 of those calories – one third of her intake – for a few alcoholic drinks, and leave only 1000 for health-promoting food, fiber and lean muscle building protein?
I realize some people may answer “yes” to that question, but then again, remember your goals and your priorities and how hard you are working towards them…are you really going to let a couple a drinks get in the way?
In Summary, here is some practical take home advice.
7 Tips For Alcohol Consumption
In A Fitness Lifestyle
(1) Don’t drink on a fat loss program. Although you could certainly drink and “get away with it” if you diligently maintained your calorie deficit as noted above, it certainly does not help your fat loss cause or your nutritional status.
(2) Drink in moderation during maintenance. For lifelong weight maintenance and a healthy lifestyle, if you drink, do so in moderation and only occasionally, such as on weekends or when you go out to dine in restaurants. Binge drinking and getting drunk has no place in a fitness lifestyle (not to mention hangovers aren’t very conducive to good workouts).
(3) Don’t drink daily. Moderate drinking, including daily drinking, has been associated with cardiovascular health benefits. However, I don’t recommend daily drinking because behaviors repeated daily become habits. Behaviors repeated multiple times daily become strong habits. Habitual drinking may lead to heavier drinking or full-blown addictions and can be hard to stop if you ever need to cut back.
(4) Count the calories. If you decide to have a bottle of beer or a glass of wine or two (or whatever moderation is for you), be sure to account for the alcohol in your daily calorie budget.
(5) Watch your appetite. Don’t let the “munchies” get control of you during or after you drink (Note to chicken wing and nacho-eating men: The correlation to alcohol and body fat is higher in men in almost all the studies. One possible explanation is that men tend to drink and eat, while women may tend to drink instead of eating).
(6) Watch the fatty foods. When drinking, watch the fatty foods in particular. A study by Angelo Tremblay back in 1995 suggested that alcohol and a high fat diet are a combination that favors overfeeding.
(7) Enjoy without guilt. If you choose to drink (moderately and sensibly), then don’t feel guilty about it or beat yourself up afterwards.
Happy St. Patty’s Day!
In Health and Fitness,