My all time favourite thing to hear as a trainer: "I want to get fit...but I don't want to give up drinking”. Yep, you don't have to my good man.
Alcohol is all around us all the time, whenever we go out, chill out, flex out, whatever, you get the point: it’s omnipresent. The good news is that you can enjoy boozing. There’s a few things you need to know to make good choices which I’ll explain in this post.
Alcohol in itself is not the enemy. I like alcohol. It helps me forget that in a parallel universe Nutella is healthy and high fives is the only currency. In order to enjoy booze, we must first understand it’s benefits and draw backs.
Draw back 1
It’s empty calories, meaning that you don't get any nutritional value from it, you are just increasing the amount of energy you intake. Not a big deal if you are slaying the dance floor that night. A regular can of beer has 150 calories. A glass of wine has a little less. And since we like our social time we usually have more than one so that can quickly escalate to 300-1500 calories depending on how socially inclined you are being.
Draw back 2
It prevents your body from metabolizing fat. So not only are you not getting any nutritional benefits from it, but now you aren't even burning fat. Whenever you drink alcohol, your body metabolizes it first. Drinking will literally stop you from leaning out until it’s out of your system. The problem here is that some of us sometimes consume alcohol a few nights in a row. Occasions add up and it’s not our fault I know! On Friday you had a birthday dinner, then Saturday you had a date and Sunday a family dinner. You had alcohol thrusted at you all weekend and its totally fine, but just know that for 3 days straight your body has not bean able to burn fat.
Draw back 3
Perhaps the most deadly one that we don't really see creep up on us: booze usually comes in a very calorie heavy environment. During your birthday dinner there probably was a delicious three layered chocolate cake, your date took you to a restaurant with nice fries and burgers or pizza or popcorn and your parents most likely cooked your favourite apple crumble…you get my point. It’s not so much the booze in itself that kills our gains but more the environment. Oh yea and your probably sitting most of the time that you're drinking, burning a very small amount of calories.
How to keep the booze
We can all enjoy our occasional drink. Some people choose not to drink and thats fine and some others choose to drink and that’s also fine. First thing, be in tune with your current goals. If your goal is to aggressively lean out, then I would recommend you cut booze out entirely. Not necessarily because of the drinks themselves but more for the environment that comes with them. If you are very social, that doesn't mean stop going out, but lower the numbers of time you go out.
If you see that this isn't possible then here’s a little trick I use when I lean out: eat a big meal just before you go out. I usually go for a big salad, that way when I'm at the bar and the fries come along, I'm just not going to be hungry for them. There will be occasion that you shouldn't miss, like a friends birthday or other sort of celebration. When that happens, have a drink, enjoy your time there but be on damage control. Showing up with a full stomach make that easier.
Remember that you are working on your WEEKLY caloric intake. If you end up going out one night, make up for it the next day or the day after that. Let’s use the overly used metaphor of your car as your body. When you take your car off road to go do some doughnuts in the mud, you car gets dirty right? So you clean it (or you should) when you get back. Same deal with your body. Keep taking your car off road without cleaning or doing routine maintenance and it will be in the junkyard sooner than you think.
I could go on about how you should avoid alcohol altogether but that’s something that I can't bring myself to. There is always the occasional outing with friends to the bar, and that special wine my folks brought back specially for our Sunday dinner and I know you have your special cases as well. Enjoy this occasions and be smart about your overall fitness routine.
Clem fitness Inc.
Clem fitness is a Personal Training service based out of Vancouver. Our area of expertise is muscle definition, meal planning, designing workout plans and teaching you how to live a fit and happy lifestyle.