Alcohol and Fat Loss - Can you have both? 🍹
The silly season is well and truly upon us, which means parties, New Years and nights out especially if you’re here in the Aussie Summer! I get asked a lot whether I drink and if you can drink while working towards losing fat. The short answer is yes, but as usual, there are some factors that play into this, so let’s take a deeper look!
I remember being told that vodka has no calories… (insert facepalm here) so I spent a large portion of my 20s consuming vodka, lime + soda, thinking I’d tricked the system. How wrong I was… Alcohol is still a macronutrient that counts for 7 calories per 1 gram of alcohol. Meaning? It absolutely contributes to your daily calorie intake, and can add up quite quickly if you’re a thirsty human.
How does alcohol impact fat loss?
- If you consume more than your daily calorie deficit, you won’t lose weight (we all understand energy balance by now, if we consume enough of anything that puts us above our daily calorie intake, we will gain weight)
- Alcoholic beverages are easy to consume, so it’s easier to add calories up pretty quickly
- When we drink, our inhibitions are lowered, meaning we’ll make poorer decisions and our goals will seem less important to us
- These lowered inhibitions often lead to things like late night McDonalds, more drinks and trying to climb things beyond our abilities (speaking from a friends experience ofc)
- The hangover munchies got me UberEats-ing all kinds of highly palatable, calorie dense foods (how many chicken nuggets, is too many chicken nuggets when you’re hung?)
- Lack of sleep from a late night wreaks havoc with our ghrelin and leptin, the hormones that tell us when we’re full and satiated, so when they’re off from just ONE poor nights sleep, we’re going to feel hungry and no food amount or type will make us feel satisfied
- And how are you feeling about working out? Probably pretty crap. Even if you go, what’s your effort going to be like? Very crap. Your poor body, just give it some water PLEASE.
With all of this in mind, and the difficulty staying in a deficit even when we’re not staying out late on the drinks, what do you think is going to happen to your deficit calories? They will most likely become a surplus… and this is how we disrupt fat loss.
So, what can we do about it? I’m glad you asked.
Here are my tips for enjoying a couple of drinks without blowing your chances of achieving your fat loss goals:
Calorie Budget - Like I’ve said before, if you know you’re going to have a big night try and work your calories around the day to allow yourself more calories in the evening. Eat enough protein (because you’re definitely not going to want a protein shake after a couple of drinks) and drink plenty of water throughout the day and the evening drinking, because your body is going to need it!
Choose low calorie drinks - If you’re tracking your drinks, choosing low calorie drinks throughout the night and staying within your calorie deficit, you’ll still be losing fat. Spirits mixed with soda or diet coke, low cal mojitos, glass of red wine or a glass of bubbles, make sure you’re keeping track of everything.
There’s no harm in saying no - If you know you can’t stick to a few drinks or you’re going to eat crappy foods when you’re drunk or feel like crap the next day and slack off your training for the rest of the week. There’s no harm in saying no to drinking and just avoiding it all together if you know it doesn’t work well for you and your body. Alcohol itself isn’t an issue, it’s the effects it can have on us later like ruining our training sessions, eating greasy food afterwards and it disrupts our sleep and recovery.
Most of all, if you are going out and drinking this Christmas period and you wake up feeling guilty and unmotivated? Remember that one day of drinking isn’t going to ruin all your progress. You just have to get back on the saddle, keep eating well, don’t restrict yourself to make up for last night’s mistake, drink plenty of water and sleep!
Merry Fitmas my Fit fam, and drink responsibly!