Let's talk about booze baby!
While it is no secret that abstaining from alcohol will help you achieve your goals at a more rapid rate, we understand that drinking is an integral part of socializing in our society... and we are not ones to miss a good party!!
One of the best aspects about our approach to nutrition is incorporating treats like dessert and alcohol while still working toward your goals. This realistic, flexible mindset is crucial for creating long-lasting, healthy habits that will serve you for a lifetime! We mean it when we say no food or drink is off limits - every time we eat or drink, we are simply making a choice, and we want to make sure you are making the most informed decision possible! So, let's start with the basics: how does alcohol affect us once consumed?
Alcohol: Always at the VIP Table
... and not in a good way! Your body views alcohol as a toxin. Rather than storing it, your body works overtime to get rid of alcohol and get you back to homeostasis. More specifically, your liver almost exclusively focuses on removing alcohol from your body once it's consumed. Interestingly, the liver is also responsible for more than 500 other important functions in your body, including filtering our blood, helping with nutrient absorption, and yep... breaking down fat.
Let me be very clear here: when you drink, your liver prioritizes the elimination of alcohol from your body which leads to the interruption of other processes such as fat burning and the absorption of nutrients. Sound like a deal breaker when you're working toward body composition or performance goals? Here's how to make it work!
Strategies for Sensible Drinking
Eat 45 minutes before you start drinking alcohol. Once consumed, processing alcohol will be first on our body's "to-do list". Eating beforehand gives your body a head start to begin absorbing the important nutrients consumed in a meal.
Omit complex carbohydrates from your pre-drink meal. Focus on including a lean protein, two servings of fibrous vegetables, and a moderate amount of fat that fits your per meal macros. Why? Although alcohol is not a macronutrient (i.e. we don't require it for survival... although it might seem that way sometimes!), it is most closely absorbed in the body as a toxin and a sugar. We therefore track most alcohol as having 30 grams of carbohydrates per serving. [If you haven't already, be sure that you're using a custom alcohol entry in MyFitnessPal so you are tracking the full impact of alcohol.]
Choose your booze wisely. Not all alcohol is created equal. Your best bet is to go with a hard liquor (if your body can tolerate it!) with no mixer or a calorie-free mixer like soda water. On the other end of the spectrum is beer (i.e. it's like drinking a loaf of alcohol-soaked bread), champagne, margaritas, mixed drinks, etc., so we want to limit or avoid these ideally. For our wine lovers out there, stick with dry, red wine.
Don't forget to hydrate! Because glucose retains water, it can be beneficial to consume 24 oz or more of water prior to drinking combined with 1/4 of a cup of fruit juice. The glucose will pull the water through your system more quickly than water alone. And of course, continue drinking water afterward and beyond.
A Note of Brutal Honesty
We are not for or against alcohol, or any other food or beverage for that matter! On the one hand, I have thoroughly enjoyed my boozy nights and on the other (and more recently), I have reaped the performance benefits and mental clarity of being sober for months at a time. The truth is that when it comes to performance nutrition, abstaining from alcohol will help increase strength, flexibility, muscle gain, and fat loss. There is no way around this! The media will tell you that one glass of red wine is considered "healthy" for our heart, but who paid for those studies and what else is healthy for your heart that is NOT also a toxin? It will never beat zero glasses of wine for optimal health! So you really need to ask yourself what your priorities are when you're considering alcohol intake. Ask yourself why you want to drink and don't pass any judgment. Maybe you'll find that it's just a habit or something that you automatically do when socializing. Try abstaining one night or two (or longer), and see how your body reacts! When you're in this game for a lifetime, these small experiments are a drop in the bucket.
We know, this is A LOT of information to throw at you in an email. Not to worry!
Check out our fun, easy-to-read Alcohol 101 Guide and our instructional video on how to track alcohol to help you make a more informed decision before you start your weekend, warrior!
The Truth About Alcohol and Fat Loss
For the ultimate extra credit, check out our special webinar on the truth about alcohol and fat loss. You can turn this one up in your headphones on your next commute, long distance drive, or cardio session... you don't want to miss this!