Alcohol and dieting, every trainee’s favorite topic of discussion. God, even Stephen Hawking would lose his marbles trying to enumerate the times I’ve had to sit my clients down, look em’ dead in the eye, and tell them that their drinking
problem habits are derailing their gains. And before you even go there, get the fuck out with the whole “drinking red wine mimics the effects of exercise” puddle of taurine ass gravy. Trying to burn calories by consuming more calories is like trying to put out a chemical fire by lobbing a grenade at it… Or trying to empty a wine glass by filling it uhm…with wine… Yea, don’t be stupid.
The plain and simple truth is that people will believe whatever the hell fits snuggly into the narrative of their biases: just because I wish that stuffing donut holes down the crevasse in my face were somehow conducive to building (and maintaining) a physique not unlike that of Brad Pitt in Troy certainly doesn’t make it so. Oh, and did I mention that alcohol blunts your body’s ability to burn fat and build muscle? #BLAM #ScienceBitches
And if that weren’t enough, pound for pound, alcohol is WAY more calorie dense than just about anything else on the planet. Don’t believe me? 10 shots of tequila have roughly the same caloric load as 2 pints of Ben and Jerry’s. Or 1kg (35oz.) of chicken. And for the sake of nailing this coffin shut once and for all, who the hell goes out boozing on an empty stomach?
We’ve all been there: we go out to dinner with friends, eat to our heart’s content whilst enjoying good conversation and a wee bit more booze than originally intended – our inhibitions get tossed to the side and we see the dessert cart gazing seductively at us from across the room. So we build up the courage to throw caution to the winds of desire and go ahead and treat ourselves to that little bundle of chocolate covered dopamine. But the night is young still, the mood redolent of the electric boisterousness of Mardi Gras, and the collective shifts its sights to the go-to watering hole du jour… Right before everything fades to black and you wake up with a hangover that could choke the life out of a trenned out demi god and a half eaten slice of pizza smeared all over your face.
Yea, alcohol abuse is not exactly synonymous with self control… Which means that aside from the hyper-caloric bludgeoning we get from our favorite boozalicious concoctions, our post partying escapades will most likely revolve around questionable food choices and a world of regret. For some, the shit show ends there. For others, the day after is in of itself a Greek tragedy of mindless eating and self flagellation.
Look, I enjoy my grappa like any good ole Italian boy, and when the occasion arises for my inner alcoholic to surface, I plan ahead so as to not reverse the progress I’ve worked so goddamn hard to make. If you enjoy drinking, as you should, keep the following bursts of advice in mind the next time you genuflect before the altar of Bacchus.
- Make a mental note of how many drinks you have on average per week and give yourself a limit: alcohol is only “fattening” if your overall caloric consumption for the week exceeds your caloric expenditure.
- a drink or two per night will have minor effects on body composition, strength and overall gym performance, but all in all you’ll be fine.
- 20-30 drinks a week will wreck havoc on your progress
- Getting plastered multiple times a week is just stupid
- Make sensible food choices: stick mainly to lean proteins and vegetables in order to manage your caloric load and increase satiety. You may even consider doing a 12-18 hour fast on your designated party nights in order to save most of your calories for your big night out.
- Consider fasting as a nutritional protocol: fasting comes in many different forms, and when implemented intelligently, can have a host of health benefits, like not ballooning up an entire weight class or two.
- Make sensible drink choices: not all drinks are created equal I’m afraid, which means that you can save yourself a TON of calories by sticking to spirits, wine and cocktails made with low calorie/no calorie soda.
- Don’t train right before you go out drinking: in order to avoid negating your mad Lambda gains, train as early as you possibly can on the days you know you’re going to try to outdrink Thor.
As always, your personal aesthetics, strength levels and overall sense of vitality will correlate directly with the lifestyle choices you consciously make. Alcohol is one of life’s great pleasures, but like all things, it ought to be consumed in a manner that is line with your goals, whether they be fitness related or not.