All you need to know about fitting alcohol l in your diet.
Let's be real. I bet you enjoy a few drinks or many on a Saturday night.
In fact, I bet drinking has been a part of your lifestyle for a long time, and if it's not then I'm sure you've drunk at some point.
I’ve been getting a lot of questions about alcohol lately. Well, it is that time of year. BBQ’s, summer parties, drinking outside in pubs and gatherings are very popular this time of year.
Alcohol does have a strong presence in the majority of people lives, and most people think that if you do drink then you "can't be healthy" or you're totally messing up your diet.
That couldn't be further from the truth. Although over-consuming alcohol (like over consuming most things) will have a negative impact on your body composition goals. But that doesn't mean it has to be ruled out completely. In fact, you can still enjoy a few drinks, dinners, and nights out with friends while and still be on track. Which is what I am going to share with you today.
If you have read some of my content then you know by now that weight loss comes down to being in a calorie deficit. No matter where those calories come from. Yes, optimal health comes from eating majority whole foods, but understanding energy balance and that calories are the only things that matters for weight loss are important.
As there is no restriction, with a little bit of planning, thinking ahead and structuring your nutrition you can enjoy a drink, fit it into your lifestyle and still be on point.
Before I give you some practical tips on how you can fit alcohol into your lifestyle, let's talk about alcohol.
Alcohol is sometimes referred to as the 4th macronutrient as it does contain calories like the others that make up the majority of the human diet.
Protein - 4 kcal per gram
Carbs - 4 kcal per gram
Fat - 9 kcal per gram
Alcohol - 7kcal per gram
As you can see alcohol is a macronutrient in and of itself, as it does contain calories. Most people think of alcohol as a sugar and therefore a carb which leads them to believe it had 4 calories per gram. But alcohol is a separate type of nutrient called ethanol which is processed in the body much differently than carbohydrate. This is very important to know as you will be able to fit it into your diet much easier, with minimal negative impacts on your body composition.
So will drinking alcohol negatively affect your body composition? Well, it depends on how much your drinking per week. If you are controlling your diet and are in a calorie deficit then drinking 1-2 units a week won't harm your fat loss. It's when those units get up to 5 and 6 on a regular basis that causes an issue, along with a non-calorie controlled diet. To put it simply, if you're drinking to get drunk every time then you'll stalling your results.
Alcohol is recognised as a toxic chemical, and the body does what it can to remove it from your system. Muscle protein synthesis is an anabolic process that helps you retain and rebuild muscle tissue which is KEY for improved body composition changes as it increases resting metabolism and helps regulate hormone production.
High consumption of alcohol seriously blunts this response and processes in building muscle tissue and fat oxidation stops or slows down until it has left your system.
It’s important to keep in mind how much alcohol you’re consuming and if that’s helping or hindering your fat loss gains. Small to modest amounts (1-2 units a week ) probably won’t do much to harm your fat loss goals and has even been shown to slightly increase testosterone production improve cardiovascular health.
But it's when you hit those 5-6 units that the catabolic processes (breaking down) start to occur.
Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and you’re more likely to make poor food choices when your drunk, like ordering kebabs, Mc Donald, KFC (come on, you know you've done it) or going to an Indian and polishing off a 1,000+ calorie meal.
Now we've dived a bit deeper into alcohol, let's look at how we can fit it into your lifestyle.
Strategy 1: Fast.
This is a simple strategy that makes room for extra calories coming from alcohol in the evening. You can fast until midday, until 1 pm or even all day until the evening. (definitely, don't drink on an empty stomach though) You don’t have to track a thing and delaying your first meal will help balance overall daily calories if you do this right. Side note: Use this as a tool, not an invitation to go nuts, as you can easily smash through 1,000’s of calories from a big night out and totally negate this strategy.
Strategy 2: Halve your carbs and fats for the day.
This is another calorie control strategy that can balance total daily intake. As alcohol contains 7 kcal/gram it makes sense to limit fat which is calorically dense and carbs which aren’t essential. macronutrient. Always hit your protein intake for the day as this will keep you satiated and stimulate muscle protein synthesis. If you're not tracking your protein then consume at each meal that day and eat 10% more than you normally would.
Strategy 3: Choose low calorie.
This is pretty obvious but usually forgotten. It’s simple, choose lower-calorie options like G&T or light beers. Here is a list of some lower-calorie options.
Prosecco 80 kcals.
Champagne 90 calories.
Vodka Soda 96 kcals.
Rum and Diet Coke 96 kcals.
Gin and slimline tonic 115 kcals.
You will drastically reduce total calorie intake and not feel deprived or the odd one out following this strategy.
Be mindful of mixers though, and again choose lower-calorie options like a slimline tonic, or soda water.
Strategy 4: Borrow calories.
Looking at your weekly calories as a whole is what's important for fat loss. As daily calories will fluctuate, paying attention to your weekly intake will tell you if your weight is trending down. This awareness is essential as you can plan ahead, schedule your nights out and be in check with your weekly intake.
If you know you’re going out on a Friday or Saturday then be in a more of a calorie deficit days before the event. If you don't track then just monitor your food intake and eat a less. You can do this the days after as well, and have a lower calorie the days which will balance total weekly intake and prevent any weight gain.
These are all strategies you can use and if binge drinking is a weekly thing, or happens on a regular basis then it’s best to address this first and work on implementing sustainable habits as it can start to create negative associations with food and alcohol.
As long as your planning ahead and accounting for the calories consumed then having 1-2 units a week won't hinder your fat loss. It will give you that mental break, you can be social and not feel deprived, which will increase adherence and consistency, two key elements that produce results.
Drink the amount possible while still maintaining what you think is sustainable in your lifestyle. If that means a few wines a week with dinner, then great, completely going t total, that’s OK too.
Just make sure your consumption of alcohol isn't negatively impacting your fat loss goals.
Feel free to spread the word, recommend, and share this with anyone who you think would benefit from gaining this information.