ALCOHOL AND FAT LOSS
One of the hardest things for people to give up during a fat loss program is alcohol. Some people find it impossible to go out and not enjoy a few drinks. The good news is drinking occasionally and in moderation will not likely affect your results; however, over-consumption can greatly hinder your fat loss and decrease your physical performance.
Alcohol in our body
One interesting fact about alcohol is that it contains far more calories than the food you consume on a daily basis, with seven calories in each gram. Alcoholic drinks are extremely high in calories but offer zero nutritional value. When we consume alcohol our bodies stop burning fat for fuel and focus primarily on metabolizing the alcohol. Alcohol is initially metabolized in our liver and not stored directly as fat – this can eventually damage your liver if you frequently consume large quantities of alcohol. It also disrupts digestion in your stomach and depletes your body of essential vitamins and nutrients.
Here is an outline of its nutritional value:
Carbohydrates = 4 calories per gram
Protein = 4 calories per gram
Fat = 9 calories per gram
Alcohol = 7 calories per gram
Over-consumption of alcohol will eventually lead to long-term health complications including liver disease, cancer, gout, hypoglycemia, heart disease, increased blood pressure, dehydration and more. Excessive drinking will also halt the production of testosterone and prevent building lean muscle mass in your body. Alcohol can also trigger hunger and cause you to binge-eat after a night of drinking (I often find myself eating cheeseburgers if I ever drink alcohol!).
Recommended alcohol intake for fat loss
If you are following a body transformation program, you will need to restrict your alcohol intake in order to see results. There is absolutely no point in training hard and following a strict diet only to ruin your progress by drinking. The first step is to eliminate drinking on a daily basis and limit it to weekends only. Allow yourself not more than two drinks a night (once a week) and take calories into consideration. Stay away from high-calorie drinks and stay within your overall caloric intake so you continue losing weight. If your focus is on maintaining your weight, you can be a bit more lenient with your intake and get away a couple of drinks a few nights a week. Regardless of your goals, it is never a good idea to drink on a daily basis.
The best alcoholic drinks to order are: (calories are approximates per serving)
Light beer (Almaza Light is a popular choice in Beirut) = 95 calories per glass
Red wine = 85 calories
White wine = 84 calories
Spirits = approximately 100 calories
Champagne = 91 calories
Rum = 80 calories
Tequila shots = 96 calories
Vodka shots = 100 calories
The worst drinks are:
Margaritas = 740 calories
Pina coladas = 644 calories
Long island ice tea = 600+ calories
Brandy = 263 calories
Whisky = 250 calories
All fruity, syrupy mixed cocktails are high in calories and should be avoided as much as possible, unless you want to count it as your weekly cheat meal. If you are going to mix your drinks, always choose diet beverages such as diet Coke, Pepsi or Red Bull and stay away from juices, syrups, creams, milk, or any other tropical mixes that are high in calories. Another useful strategy is to drink non-alcoholic low-calorie drinks in between to reduce your alcohol intake.
Cutting out alcohol
If you choose to cut back on your alcohol intake to meet your fitness goals, you might have to deal with pressure from your social circle. One helpful tactic is to explain your goals to people beforehand and help them understand why this is important to you. Most importantly, recognize that you CAN certainly have a fun and fulfilling life without the need of alcohol when you go out. A couple of drinks a night are more than enough to give you a buzz.
If you’re someone who routinely relies on alcohol to be more outgoing and have fun when you go out, you might realize that cutting out alcohol will actually make you MORE self-confident and social, now that you’re depending on your personality to have a good time instead of alcohol. You also won’t have to deal with a hangover the next day, or recall embarrassing moments resulting from being drunk.
If you are really committed to achieving a lean and athletic physique, you might want to consider not drinking altogether. Alcohol is very caloric dense and when you are in a caloric deficit, you eat very little on a daily basis. Drinking alcohol will replace other foods you could be eating while following your restricted diet and it might be more satisfying to eat wholefoods than to drink empty calories that will only sabotage your diet.
Learn more about other types of liquid calorieshere