As you heard from my story (if you haven’t read my story and the getting started blog, it may be best to do so to fast track your results and catch up), I had an issue with alcohol.
Before finding entrepreneurship and falling in love with fitness, I was drinking, smoking, and overall doing things I wasn’t proud of on an everyday basis. (Sorry Ma!)
And as many of you have probably found, alcohol is a huge part of socializing in modern-day the USA or almost any country.
Beer with the boys for the game, wine nights with the girls, and shot on shots on shots on any random Saturday night.
It’s hard to deny that alcohol and socializing go hand in hand in our culture.
Trying To Mix Alchohol and Fitness
Now I’m not talking about getting drunk and hitting the weight room here (although I have done that once or twice).
But coming from my background and Wisconsin drinking culture, it wasn’t something that I wanted to give up completely.
My fitness, weight loss, and health goals all outweighed the want and need to drink. But temptation is temptation, and I still wanted to hang out with my friends on the weekend.
We all have to admit it; alcohol can be fun!
So it wasn’t something that I wanted to completely part ways with and know most of you probably don’t either.
It’s the number question I get from fitness clients. “How does alcohol fit into this?” or “Do I have to give up drinking?”.
Trying to mix these two is tough because doesn’t drinking lead to extra calories and slowing down your metabolism?
Yes, but as I continued to learn about how our bodies react to foods and substances (alcohol in specifics) and how to mitigate the damage, I did find some interesting things.
How We React to Alcohol and How We Can Benefit
Now again, as we mentioned, of course, alcohol is more calories. But it’s not specifically a carb, protein, or fat. It’s its kind of macro-nutrient.
This means that alcohol by itself doesn’t have carbs, won’t spike your blood sugar, insulin levels, or make you gain fat or weight.
Lesson 1: alcohol isn’t inherently bad for you by itself
The second thing that we noticed is that alcohol does slow down your muscle protein synthesis by roughly 20%. This means that it slows down your body’s ability to recover or build muscle. But nothing showed that it slowed down your metabolism.
That 20% not being an extremely significant amount and that dip in muscle recovery only happens for the next 12-24 hours or so.
So lesson 2: in moderation alcohol by itself doesn’t hinder your fitness goals
So cheers to friggin that!
Adjustments We Can Make To Stay On Track
Knowing these two things about alcohol and how by itself it doesn’t seem as if it will hinder or hold us back from our fitness and weight loss goals, now we need to look at what’s around alcohol.
So logically, the first thing I did was cut everything that’s around the alcohol.
That meant cutting the sugary and calorie-loaded mixers, chasers, cocktails, and of course, beer. This left my drinking to hard alcohol, diet sodas, zero-calorie mixers, and low-calorie wines.
And this was the biggest domino that I needed to knockdown.
The sugar, carbs, and calories around the alcohol are what causes drinking to hinder our weight loss progress, not the alcohol itself!
But even with that rule, there were still extra calories and other things that needed to be kept on track such as keeping the drunk cravings down, staying hydrated, and how to fit these empty alcohol calories into my weeks.
So I created and followed a few simple rules. This mixed with our big domino of staying away from carb-loading drinks have had a profound impact on my social life and fitness goals.
7 Laws on Drinking Alchohol and Still Hitting Your Fitness Goals
Rule 1 – Low sugar and calorie alcohol
We talked about this above. But the real part that hinders your fitness goals is intaking too many calories around your drink and not the hard alcohol itself. So the best way to keep the extra carbs and calories out is to limit your drinking to these two categories.
Low Sugar Wines
Wine out of all other alcohol has a fair amount of needed vitamins and minerals as its made from grapes and other fermented fruits. But its best to keep it to wines that don’t have added sugar and fillers. Below are the top low sugar wines to drink when out to dinner, a night with the girls, or after a stressful workday.
Top Low Sugar White Wines
- Pinot Grigio
- Pinot Blanc
- Sauvignon Blanc
Top Low Sugar Red Wines
- Pinot Noir
- Cabernet Franc
- Cabernet Sauvignon
Unflavored Hard Alcohol
Most hard alcohols that don’t have added flavorings are between 80-100 calories per shot and don’t contain any carbs which make it your best bet on drinking alcohol and staying in line with your fitness goals.
There are many of these, so I’ll label the most common:
- Vodka (Unflavored)
- Rum (White or Spiced)
Rule 2 – No sugary or calorie mixers, cocktails, or shots
This rule goes hand and hand with the first rule, keeping the sugar away from the alcohol. So that means keeping the coke, tonic, and margarita mix away from your hard alcohol.
If you’re sticking to low sugar wine, this isn’t much of a problem. But for hard alcohol, I know it can be for all of us.
Tip 1 – On the rocks or neat!
If you can and enjoy a good rum, tequila, or whiskey straight drink it just like that. So getting yourself a great sipping whiskey that you can enjoy without anything added to it. Or go hard with a shot if you’re in it for the drunk instead of the social aspect
Tip 2 – Diet soda can be your best friend.
Now there’s a lot of people that say diet soda is super bad, or worse for you than regular soda. I’m not one of those people.
I’ve seen studies where individuals have lost more weight due to consuming diet soda. They believe because it allowed them to fill their sugar or sweetness cravings, making it easier to pass up on sugary foods and drinks.
So with diet soda being zero calories and carb, I say go at it! Switch that rum and coke to a rum and diet the next time you’re out on the town.
Rule 3 – Eat your dinner before you go out
This is the first step we take to decreasing the drunk cravings and munchies we are all too prone to having.
This will fill your stomach and tell your brain and body you’re full before even taking your first drink, thus doing two things.
- You are lessening the chance that you eat when you’re out. Much less likely to snack or get some late-night pizza if your stomach is still full of a nice hearty dinner of meat, veggies, and whole-grain carbs.
- It is indirectly lessening the amount that you drink as well! Have you ever gone out on a full stomach and tried drinking beer? You get full pretty damn quick! And that’s the same with other alcohols as well. They’ll continue to fill your stomach on top of your dinner, making it less likely that you get tanked from too much alcohol.
Rule 4 – No eating or snacking while drunk
Going hand in hand with rule 3, don’t eat or snack when you are drunk.
It’s perfectly fine if you’re out to dinner and have a meal with your drinks or as you start drinking. But stay away from going out to eat, snacking, or going to a restaurant when you’re already drunk or heavily buzzed. This is what leads to the late night pizza, ice cream, or other foods that lead to hurting your fitness goals.
Now obviously if this is a cheat day, go all out! But for most, this cheat day tends to turn into a cheat week and boom off your diet.
So to avoid these cravings, it’s best to eat before heading out or at the beginning of your drinking period.
Rule 5 – Replace every two drinks with a serving of carbs
As you’re intaking alcohol, you’ll be adding extra calories to your day/night. This means that if you want to still be in a calorie deficit and lose weight, you’ll need to take away calories somewhere else.
We take away from carbohydrates for two reasons.
- The accidental time that you drink a higher carb or sugary drink is possible. So this allows you to mitigate the damage that might cause.
- Secondly, whether you’re a big keto person or not, one thing that studies have taught us is that carbs are the one macronutrient (carbs, fats, and protein) that we can live without. It’s still crucial for your recovery to get the right amount of protein and many hormones fluctuate and are affected by fats so it’s best to keep those in your diet and the cut the carbs to make up for the extra calories coming in.
Rule 6 – Limit drinking to high-carb days, cheat days, or two nights a week
This rule is quite simple; don’t drink every night of the week if you still want to hit fitness or weight loss goals.
Everything is okay in moderation, but don’t take it overboard.
It’s best based on rule 5 to limit drinking to higher carb days (if you follow carb cycling), cheat days (if you do that, which I highly recommend), or at max two nights a week.
Rule 7 – The TB12 Rule – staying hydrated
Our last practice is how you stay hydrated when you go out and especially when you’re having more than a few drinks.
As you probably know, alcohol naturally dehydrates you and flushes a lot of water out of your system quickly.
Which is why you’ll catch me going to the bathroom every 30 minutes when out. #TMI
But to lower the risk of dehydration and to allow your liver to flush out the alcohol properly, I always use the TB12 method.
Tom Brady mentioned this in his book, which is why I nicknamed it that, but basically, he states that you should drink a glass of water for every drink that you have.
It’s not only an excellent way to pace yourself (so you don’t get bonkers as we talked about), fill your stomach, so you are less likely to get the drunk munchies but also keep hydrated throughout the night.
Positive Effects of these Drinking Rules
When looking back at it, my complete fitness transformation has been aided my these simple drinking principals.
By doing using these, our bodies can keep blood sugar and insulin (basically your body’s fat building responses to carbs) low.
Doing this then gives us the flexibility and allows us to go out on the weekends, enjoy a few drinks, without having a set back in my fitness goals.
And you can do the same by just following these exact rules.
What’s Next For You?
You now know the one simple tweak you can make to faster fasting (fasted workouts mixed with intermittent fasting) from the first article.
And now, you know exactly how to add alcohol into your diet so you can still enjoy your social life while hitting your fitness and weight loss goals.
The next thing for us to discuss is the big second secret on how to add in cheat days to your diet so you can enjoy the yummy “junk” food you love and have it increase your fat loss and fat burning.
This next post for you is going to be insane. I mean, who wouldn’t want to lose weight while eating donuts, pizza, and ice cream?!