Alcohol and Fat Loss: Do they Mix?

Are you worried that your drinking alcohol is limiting your weight loss?

You’re a health conscious individual that works out hard, eats pretty darn well and likes to have fun. But let’s be honest, most things in life are just better with a buzz on.

Sporting events

A night at the club

Kids birthdays

Wednesdays

… And pretty much every other day of the week

You get my point.

If I had a nickel for every nutrition client that has prefaced their consult with, “I will eat whatever you say, but I’m not going to give up my glass of wine at night”, well, I’d have a lot of nickels.

When it comes to fitting alcohol consumption into a weight loss plan however, things can get a little tricky. The easiest answer would be “don’t drink alcohol” which for some may be the right answer. But, for those of us who like to get a little tipsy on Saturday nights (and some Sunday mornings), while still rockin’ our hard earned abs, then this guide is for you.

Here are 3 strategic guidelines to help you have your booze, while still subscribing to your weight loss plan:

Strategy #1: Slow and Steady

One daily glass of wine, 1.5oz hard liquor, or 1 beer per day is a pretty reasonable way to have a “moderate” alcohol consumption, as each is roughly 100 calories. This is an easy way to manage calories, have the mental freedom to have a drink, and still feel confident you’re not ruining your hard-earned gains.

In the grand scheme of things, weight loss is much more about managing calories effectively day in and day out, than anything else.

Something to keep in mind with this strategy is that a “glass” of wine is technically only 4oz. If you’ve ever actually measured 4oz of wine, you’d know it’s barely enough to give a gerbil a buzz. You probably also would realize that your evening pour is closer to a half bottle and far more calories than you previously considered. So maybe chill out a bit on the 2-buck-chuck and bust out your measuring cup tonight so that you can recalibrate that heavy hand.

This is probably the most realistic way to keep the booze in the “diet” without busting to the next belt hole, but surely the least fun, which brings us to strategy #2.

Strategy #2: Fast and Furious

As my grandfather used to say, “everything in moderation, including moderation.”

This is a surefire strategy for those looking to occasionally get wild on the weekend by limiting their alcohol intake to just one evening. [Disclaimer: don’t be an idiot]

There are a few important factors to consider with this type of plan:

First, is that it’s darn near impossible for the body to store body fat without an excess caloric intake, regardless of the source of calories. Therefore, an easy way to keep your calories on the low end, and to allow room for the calories from alcohol, is to stick to mostly meat and veggies the entire day leading up to your evening of debauchery.  Also, by minimizing your fat intake, you’re also helping your liver focus more on breaking down alcohol (which has no fat and very few carbs, by the way) rather than storing fatty acids from food intake.

Secondly, and full disclosure here, there is a very high likelihood that you will end your evening by completely obliterating a stuffed crust pizza and full box of cinna stix, thereby, leaving your day of “clean eating” utterly negligible in relation to your fat loss goals. I don’t have the scientific data to support this theory, but ask any college student and they’ll corroborate by claims.

So, while this may be the most fun way to imbibe, it does come with a significant degree of risk.

Strategy #3: Pick Your Poison

This last strategy is more about choosing the least physiologically offensive cocktail and comes back to the premise that at the end of the day, calories matter, a lot. Therefore, some basic rules need to be followed in order to avoid tipping the fat storage scales.

1)   Any drink that comes with whipped cream and/or an umbrella is automatically off limits unless you’re on vacation. Enough said.

2)   Ditch the sugary mixers – Unless you’re pouring drinks for your high school kids, man up and stick with your booze neat, on the rocks, or mixed with club soda. It will save you a ton of sugary calories and qualify you to hang out with the big kids

3)   Choose lower sugar/less sweet wines or champagne – This is the only time I will tell you to be more like “Cristal poppin” P-Diddy as Champagne has significantly less calories than your more dry red or white wines.

4)   Despite the ludicrous belief that vodka is “calorie free”, I am sorry to say is has just as many calories as any equivalent serving of distilled liquor, like whiskey, tequila or gin. A 1.5oz shot of vodka would be calorically equivalent to a 4-5oz glass of wine or 12oz lite beer, all roughly 100 calories.

Use the aforementioned strategies to better manage your alcoholic intake so that you can keep feeling good about your body, your calories, and have a great time in the process.

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