Alcohol & Fat Loss… Can They Go Together?
For this post I got a good friend & fellow Personal Trainer Eddie, to help iron out any confusion about alcohol and your fat loss goal. Take a read!
By Eddie Naseef
"But can I still drink?” Holy shit do I hear this question a lot. I mean, just about everyone I have ever trained has asked me this.
I get it. If you know anything about me, you know I love craft beer and a well-made cocktail. I like to go out with friends, go on date nights with my wife and yes drink sometimes after my day has ended. I also have a 6 year old... enough said
So yes, I get why people ask me this, they don't want to discontinue these same activities. It brings them joy, relaxes them and some of it tastes really damn good.
But the question still remains
Can I still drink when I'm trying to lose fat? Well, YES! I can hear the cheers of joy from everyone reading: Hooray, hooray, cheers to Eddie! Well, not so fast. Fat loss as a concept isn't difficult but that doesn't make it easy
So we will probably have to do some things that are just a little out of your norm to be able to drink while losing fat. I'm not suggesting you work out for 2 hours a day. That's not necessary. It's more about the nutritional side of things. However, any weight loss program should have a goal orientated exercise plan.
I generally program some sort of resistance training program to help keep the muscle you have. It's important for your metabolism and if you are wanting that "toned" look.
Okay back to the booze talk. For most of us, one or two drinks at the end of the day are not going to kill our diets. Of course, I'm not talking about 500 calorie chocolate martinis
Think about it. If you have two of those bad boys that's 1,000 calories! And if your diet allows for only 2,000 a day you are going to be one hungry person. Instead opt for a spirit on the rocks or with a low calorie mixer like a gin and club soda with lime. It may not be your favorite thing to drink but beggars can't be choosers.
What mostly kills us is going completely ape-shit on the weekends. We have several drinks instead of one or two and usually eat far worse than we think we do. We may dig into those late night snacks as well. These one or two days will put a serious dent into your weekly calories. So, no more weekend benders. Food or drink wise.
So what do we know so far? We know that yes, we can drink alcohol and still lose body fat. We need to be doing some sort of exercise. We know that we should stick to lower calorie drinks because it makes it really hard to stay on track if we drink up all of our damn calories.
And the one you probably hate: we need to practice moderation.
If I could read minds yours would probably be thinking "Okay Eddie, but how do I fucking do it?!" Maybe not dropping the F-bomb but whatever that's just how I talk.
I'm going to give you two ways to account for your booze so you can stay on track. Then it's up to you to ultimately decide how you want to proceed.
1. Calorie Counting
If you're following a diet that expects you to count calories then we simply need to adjust the amount you are consuming with food. How do we do this if we are having drinks at the end of the day?
We plan as though we are having them. Let's say you are allowed to have 2,000 calories a day and your drinks will cost you 300 calories when it's all said and done. Well, now we need to eat 1,700 calories for the day by taking away a piece of bread or slice of cheese here and there throughout your daily meals.
Never protein. The alcohol is already inhibiting protein synthesis. I know that's sciency and I should explain it but I don't want to make this blog post too long. So just trust me. Pretty please don't cut your protein out.
2. Macro Counting (fancy calorie counting)
It requires a little more math if you're counting macros instead of just calories. First, just like above, you need to plan. Here is how it breaks down:
Protein: 4 calories per gram
Carbs: 4 calories per gram
Fat: 9 calories per gram
Macros and Alcohol
So when we have alcohol we need to adjust our daily allotment of fat and carb grams. Never protein. Let's say you have a glass of wine that is 120 calories. If we want to take away from carbs we divide by 4 giving us a number of 30.
That's how many grams we need to take away from our carbohydrate budget. Same with fat only we divide by 9 giving us 13.3 grams of fats we would need to take away.
Not complicated, just a little mathy
If you don't like either of those options because calorie counting is a pain in the ass then I'm probably just going to say tough shit. C'mon, just do it. Just for a few months.
I could easily tell you to buy better and more wholesome foods. Eat more vegetables, fruits, lean meats and less crap that comes out of a box. But I'm going to tell you that anyway. Mostly because those things make fat loss easier but also because it's all part of a healthier lifestyle. And all that is great.
However, I said before that if you want to drink and lose weight we need to do some things out of our norm. People have a tough enough time losing fat without drinking.
So please just take the 15 minutes out of your day to track your calories or macros. It will help you get an idea of portion sizes and how much food you should be eating.
Because chances are when we "eyeball" that olive oil or serving of rice we are way off.
And don't tell me you are going low carb so you don't have to count calories. Seriously, don't do that shit. Your body needs carbohydrates. And why deprive yourself if you don't have to? We are talking about creating long term habits so you don't have to do this anymore.
At the end of the day these are just suggestions and how I coach my clients. You need to do what is right for you. This whole fitness and nutrition thing is supposed to improve your life not totally consume it
So, go out and have your fun. Just make sure it's not too much fun. Or too much fun too many days in a row. Balance is healthy, and I feel like if we all stopped treating fitness as an on off switch and more of a dimmer switch we would be happier.
Hope this helps. Cheers!