If you love partying yet worried about losing your gains, then you should follow this guide to drinking alcohol while building muscle and losing fat.
Before I lay out the guide to going wild while still getting fitter, let me first tell you a brief story…
When I attended a birthday party last week, I was bombarded with questions relating to alcohol and fitness. People were wondering why I was drinking (a lot) and I just gave them the response, “It’s Saturday” — with a smirk on my face that turned their heads into huge question marks.
More questions arose following that answer, but they all pointed to the same direction:
“Isn’t alcohol bad when you’re working out?”
I could not remember how many times I have been asked the same question. It’s not surprising though, as I am the guy people always see at bars and clubs — drunk most of the time. Having that credential, I think I could be well-qualified to talk about this.
Alcohol and Lifestyle
I think this is a very good topic to cover today because there has been a lot of misconceptions going on with this subject, plus, Halloween parties are all over!
What I’ve noticed is people nowadays tend to miss out on a lot of fun when beginning their fitness journey, which I think is absurd.
They avoid drinking alcohol, avoid partying, and even just going on a night out because they believe they will lose all their gains when alcohol touches their mouths. I know a lot of people who’d rather stay at home, make their salads, watch TV, complain that they’re bored, rather than go out and have fun.
I don’t blame them, though. If living the uber healthy lifestyle is their choice and reaching 200 years old is the end goal, then they’re doing it right.
But for the majority of them, they’re doing it for the wrong reasons! Alcohol, in moderation, will not kill your gains and will not make you fat.
In this post, you’re going to learn the truth about alcohol and fitness, how to make it work with your diet, and the important things to remember when planning your night out.
Fitness and Having Fun: Do They Mix?
If you read my “about” page, you would understand the how and why of my work.
My fitness philosophy is to incorporate fitness into people’s lifestyle while not being consumed by it. I want people to enjoy life in the gym and especially outside the gym–eating the foods that they love, going out, and having fun.
I want fitness to enhance people’s lives, not taken over by it. I want you to live an enjoyable life on your own terms and let fitness be an addition, not your sole focus in life. I want you to go with your day with confidence carrying your healthier and fitter body, but without having to live in the gym. Sure I can workout every day and make the gym my life and look insanely awesome, but what about my other hobbies? What about doing other fun things?
Life’s not enjoyable when fitness takes over your world.
And what’s the point of looking great and being healthy if you live in the gym anyway?
Well, again, maybe that’s just me. But my goal for you is to learn how to enjoy and to have fun while working towards your fitness goals — and this is the purpose of this article. This is why I never say no to alcohol with myself and others as I found that it’s practically impossible for most to eliminate it.
With that said, here are the things you should know regarding alcohol:
1. Alcohol won’t make you fat, excess calories will
Just a little fact: Our body doesn’t have a way to store ethanol (alcohol calories) as fat. That’s because acetate, the by-product of alcohol metabolism, is toxic.
When you drink alcohol, your body’s top priority is to get rid of it and use it as an immediate source of fuel. What will happen then is your normal metabolism(using macronutrients as fuel) will stop for a while until all the alcohol gets flushed out of your body.
So unless you’ve taken a lot of calories that same day, you don’t have to worry about getting fat.
Just to give you an idea:
1g of alcohol contains 7 calories. 1 bottle of San Mig Light has 15g of alcohol, which is 105 calories. 1 bottle of Red Horse has 31g of alcohol, which is 220+ calories.
If you’re going to drink, please do your assignment and adjust from there. Calories are still everything. Make sure you always leave a room for alcohol calories to sit in your system.
If you get fat, don’t blame the alcohol, blame your total calories for that day.
2. Alcohol and testosterone
You’ve probably heard or read somewhere that alcohol lowers testosterone. Let’s discuss that.
For the alcohol to really have a negative impact on testosterone, around 120g of alcohol must be consumed. That is equivalent to 8 beers, and that number is already considered plenty.
Drinking at this rate will lower your testosterone levels by up to 23% for up to 16 hours. Honestly, 23% isn’t that much to hurt your gains, provided that you won’t binge drink every night.
Well, if you’re a bodybuilder or someone preparing for a fitness show, by all means, stay away from it. That’s obvious I guess.
In addition, some studies even suggested that moderate amounts of alcohol (4-5 drinks) actually leads to testosterone increase for both men and women. This could be one of the plausible reasons why we suddenly perform at a porn-star level when we drink in moderation.
3. Alcohol and protein synthesis
Moderate alcohol consumption does not impair overload-induced muscle hypertrophy and protein synthesis.
It was concluded that acute ingestion of alcohol has no effect on several indicators of exercise-induced muscle damage.
Consumption of moderate amounts of alcohol after damaging exercise magnifies the loss of force associated with strenuous eccentric exercise.
Out of the three studies, only the last one appeared negatively. And that’s because the subjects took the alcohol post-workout, which wasn’t really nice to read.
I mean, who would drink alcohol right after working out? Or even before working out?
Try to space out your workout and drinking time as far as possible. Better if days apart.
Moderation is the key
If you want to nail the sweet spot between having fun and building your goal physique, you must learn to drink in moderation. This means downing 1-4 drinks tops over the course of the night. That’s the key word here, “moderation,” and it is one of those words that I truly admire as it signals discipline, self–control, and self-respect.
What I’ve noticed about most people is when they finish a bottle, they think that they’ve already fucked up so they just go all the way and get themselves drunk. Don’t be one of those people.
Beers, hards, tequilas; they can all be ok. Following a few simple practices could save your day.
Guide To Drinking Alcohol While Building Muscle And Losing Fat
If you want to have fun while building a great physique, you must adhere to these rules. So, on the days you’re going to drink:
1. Make room for the alcohol calories
Do this by lowering your calories fats and carbs(not protein) to make room for the alcohol you’re going to consume for the day.
Let’s say you’re planning to have 5 beers, which would approximately be 500+ calories depending on what type. The smart thing to do is reduce your food intake by 700 calories to allow enough room for the alcohol and additional buffer in case you go overboard. Plan ahead.
Keep the protein high(at least 1g per pound of bodyweight) as it is essential for preventing muscle breakdown and blunting hunger.
2. Stick to low-calorie drinks
Good choices would be dry wines, rum, vodka, whiskey, gin, scotch, and tequila. Take them straight or with diet sodas(just for tonight).
For the list of the most common alcoholic beverages and their calories, check this link.
3. Drink lots of water
Alcohol is very dehydrating, and we know that’s not good for the body. Always keep a bottled water beside you.
4. Avoid after-drink pigging out
This is the biggest issue drinkers have. They consume 800+ calories from alcohol then slam another 1000+ calories from food and then wonder why they’re getting fat.
One of the ways to counteract this is to bring a protein bar or a protein drink with you. If you get hungry, eat/drink it. The high amounts of protein will keep your hunger in check and will prevent you from binge eating later on.
Yes, whey protein is okay to take after drinking alcohol (but don’t mix them) as they have no direct connection in between. It’s like eating chicken breast with a glass of wine — it won’t kill you nor your liver.
5. Limit this to once per week
you don’t want alcohol to affect your workout, right?
I usually drink on Saturdays.
Before I end this, I just want to remind you that this article is not your ticket to DRINK-A-PALOOZA. I wrote this to erase confusions and misconceptions, and to remind you to be an intelligent and responsible person. Please, don’t drink and be stupid, and vice versa.
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