Store this one under the “I know what to do, but whyyyyyy?” tab…
I enjoy a nice whiskey drink or 2 once in a while, I really do. I enjoy a cold beer on a summer day, or at a sporting event.
But here’s the deal, we need to quit lying to ourselves and thinking that we can get ideal results while still drinking booze like a fish. You’re likely not 18 anymore, and it only gets harder and harder from there.
At 7 calories per gram, alcohol by itself can add up – even more so when you add in the sugary mixers, heavy carb beers, and the natural sweetness of wines.
How about these calorie numbers:
If alcoholic drinks contributing a hefty amount of calories weren’t bad enough, the effects of alcohol on fat loss are even more discouraging.
When you drink alcohol, it takes over priority in your metabolism – over all other macronutrients – because technically speaking, alcohol is a toxin to your body. In order to try and metabolize and clear the alcohol from your body quickly, your body will focus primarily on that. Yes, this means that your body will stop burning fat, in order to metabolize alcohol first.
Alcohol itself is not easily converted into fat like some will tell you. When alcohol is metabolized it becomes Acetyl-CoA. When Acetyl-CoA levels rise in the body, this signals the body that no sugar or fat needs to be burned. So instead of being a fat “storer”, alcohol is more of a fat burning stopper.
It gets even worse. This same process will also slow down muscle protein synthesis, the process that your body uses to rebuild, recover, and repair muscle, a process that normal revs up your metabolism.
Needless to say, alcohol isn’t going to help you in any of your goals regarding body composition.
However, being a realist – I know that many people won’t give up alcohol completely. True moderation is key and more importantly, limiting the number of days that you consume alcohol to prevent flipping the fat burning switch off for multiple days in a row.
I personally recommend setting a rule of 1-2 days per week that you will drink if you want. This leaves Friday and Saturday night open for me, and I stick to it pretty damn well. It’s not that a lock myself in a room Monday-Thursday (well I kind of do right now…), but if I am out I will just not get a beer. It sounds crazy in Wisconsin, but you can eat dinner out at a restaurant or even a bar and NOT have an alcoholic beverage.
This might also be very hard if you are a wine every night kind of lady or a couple brewskis after work kind of guy…but it can be done. I know many people use a drink or two to wind down from a stressful day. I get it. But is this something you need every night? Switching your body into fat burning suppression mode right after you most likely ate you biggest meal of the day doesn’t sound like optimal timing.
…so drink your booze with breakfast <– Joking
Think of other things you can do to unwind from the day, I bet you can come up with a pretty great list.
Lastly, the alcohol itself isn’t what only leads to most of the calories consumed while enjoying a drink or two, it’s the food choices that are found at bars, sporting events, and social banquets that tend to rack up the calories very quickly.
To be short and blunt, and tell you what you already know – if you are looking for maximal results, your best bet is to limit your alcohol intake as much as possible.
Stay Healthy Mis Amigos,