I’ll be honest, I like to party. It’s fun, it’s relaxing, and allows me to shut my brain off from spinning fitness 24/7.
Although alcohol can be a blast and is part of our culture it can stop your fitness goals dead in their tracks if overly consumed.
First off significant problems arise with alcohol when improving body composition is the goal. Alcohol supplies 7kcals per gram compared to 4kcal per gram for proteins and carbs, and 9 kcal per gram for dietary fats. Those 8 beer you put down could be anywhere from 800-1100 extra calories in your system, completely reversing a perfect 5 days of dieting. In addition these calories are empty, containing no nutrients to help your cause.
Bottom Line: Alcohol contains only empty calories and can add up quick, erasing your hard work from the week.
Second Because alcohol is a toxin to the body as soon as it is consumed it’s filtration and metabolism takes importance over everything else. When your body is busy metabolizing alcohol it cannot metabolize the fat you just mobilized during your workouts as an energy source. Lipolysis aka fat burning will resume as soon as you are completely sober, but if you stack up those 8 drinks in 3 hours it will take quite a while to fully metabolize all of the alcohol.
Bottom Line: Alcohol is a toxin to the body and can damage the kidneys, liver, and stomach if consumed in excess. In addition fat burning will stop as the metabolism of a toxin takes precedent over your quest for a 6 pack.
Third alcohol can screw with the hormones needed for fat loss, mainly testosterone. Research of this is all over the place, but I’ll take first hand experience seeing those who drink too much. Testosterone is vital to improving body composition as it helps us build muscle and burn away fat. In addition, when alcohol is over consumed over a long period of time cortisol levels in the body also increase. Cortisol is released during times of high stress and slows down many metabolic processes vital to health and ideal body composition. 99% of beers are filled with hops, which along with the alcohol have been shown to increase estrogen. This isn’t as problematic for females as estrogen is a female sex hormone, but for guys looking to see some abs avoid beer or be prepared to shoot yourself in the foot by adding feminine hormones and a pair of “moobs” on top of your belly.
Bottom Line: Alcohol will screw with your hormones if over-consumed, negating your hard work.
That’s enough booze bashing and trashing the pleasantries of a night out with friends. I drink myself and understand my clients are going to drink, whether its business or pleasure, here are some tips to not be completely derailed from your hard work in the kitchen and gym.
- Keep drinks at a minimum per week, track what you are doing and cut down. 5-10 drinks maximum should be more than enough to keep your social life alive.
- Men- Steer clear of beer if trying to lose fat, testosterone will decrease while cortisol and estrogren increase. Every wonder where the term beer belly came from?
- If drinking liquor with a chaser stick to diet drinks, adding extra kcals on-top of the alcohol will add up quickly, possibly doubling your caloric intake. Toughen up and drink it straight or with a calorie free substitute.
- Keep your diet focused on lean proteins if you anticipate drinking later in the day. Keeping carbs and fats low will mean less of them to be stored in your cells later when alcohol metabolism takes place.
- Steer clear of the drunk munchies. When intoxicated inhibitions are decreased, pizza and gyros look absolutely amazing and eating as much as humanly possible seems like a brilliant plan….Don’t!
Use good judgement and weigh your options. Drinking in moderation will not completely stop your progress but it won’t help you either. Keep your fun to one night and don’t over do it if you want your diet and exercise to pay off.
If interested in further information regarding alcohol and fitness this article by Martin Berkhan is extremely thorough.
Share me with a friend!