When talking about alcohol there will always be varied opinions. Some swear that drinking a glass of red wine a day will warn off various diseases while your local ‘gym bro’ won’t touch it to remain as lean as possible and avoid the ‘beer belly’. So can you still achieve your goal body weight and composition goals without giving up your social life? Well Yes you can… BUT it’s a little bit complicated and can depend on your specific goals. So I will explain a bit more in depth about how alcohol is metabolised in the body and how it will affect your progress.
Firstly.. alcohol is a macronutrient – it does contain calories! Approx 7 cals per 1 gram of alcohol.
The body usually metabolises Carbohydrates first when a meal is eaten which can raise insulin levels and supress fat oxidation (burning of fat). But when alcohol is consumed this is prioritised in the body when protein, carbs and fats are also consumed. Alcohol is a toxin to the body and will do whatever it can to get rid of this first before metabolising any other macronutrients.
When carbs and alcohol are consumed fat oxidation is suppressed. It is not the delay in fat oxidation that causes weight gain, it is when excessive calories are consumed which will determine storage of fat.
Having alcohol prior to a meal has been shown to increase caloric consumption – due to increased activity in the brains pleasure centres which can lead to overeating appealing food. So aim to have a meal beforehand if you’re going for a night out. Having alcohol can also restrict your ability to monitor your food intake as well as staying on track with your exercise routine. Waking up with a hangover is not always productive to get a good workout in!
So for the average gym goer low-moderate alcohol intake will not impact on your results in the gym (being said keeping it in the caloric consumption) But for high performing athletes you may have to reconsider regular drinking due to its impacts on slightly decreased testosterone levels (studies show that regular drinking of alcohol can reduce levels of testosterone by 6.8%), slightly increased cortisol levels and can increase risk of injury.
It is most important to keep your overall caloric consumption under control for optimal weight loss and body composition goals. So include it in your intake for that day for your calories to not compromise your progress and results.
Here are some tips and things to remember for when you do decide to have a drink or 2…
1. Opt for low-calorie drinks – clear spirits with low sugar mixers (soda water + lime) or a light beer option
2. Stay hydrated and go to bed on time so you can do your workout the next day!
3. Have a meal before going out or if you will be eating chose for high protein to keep full and avoid overeating
4. Drink Responsibly! It’s not healthy to have excessive alcohol consumption!