I am awoken by a text this morning from one of my clients stating “Good Morning! Sorry to bother cause I’m sure your busy… My friends invited me to happy hour today and I wanted to ask for your recommendations on what I should do?….”
The question boils down to whether someone who has certain fitness goals should go out and partake in some spirits? And if so what is the beverage of choice?
Bottom line – Alcohol can hinder your efforts if you are trying to lose body fat.
Whether alcohol is “fattening” has been a very controversial subject because technically speaking, alcohol is NOT stored as fat; it is oxidized ahead of other fuels.
It’s the calories that add up. 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, and if you’re aware of the calories in the alcohol, and 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 hinder your efforts. A lot of ANDS…
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, if some people spent their money as frivolously as they spent their calories, they would be in deep trouble!
Here are 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.
(7) Enjoy without guilt. If you choose to drink (moderately and sensibly), then don’t feel guilty about it or beat yourself up afterwards.
Stay classy and Have a Happy St. Patty’s Day!