What is alcohol
I have a little bit of a love-and-hate relationship with alcohol. I love nothing more than a glass or two of wine with a meal, but I hate the feeling that comes with going over that amount. My goal here isn’t to say alcohol is good or bad.
It’s more to give you an idea of what’s happening to your body when you consume it and then let you decide if you should or shouldn’t factor it into your plan each week.
Why alcohol can halt your progress
Alcohol is metabolized by the liver and thus drastically affects your blood sugar balance, particularly when consumed on an empty stomach this is why you are ‘starving’ after you have had five or six drinks.
Drinking alcohol, particularly those drinks with added sugar, results in a rapid rise in blood sugar. This causes your pancreas to release insulin in an attempt to balance your blood sugar. Insulin circulates, does what it’s supposed to do, and then leaves you mildly hypoglycaemic (low blood sugar), making sure you are excessively hungry after several drinks.
Therefore, on top of adding extra calories to your daily intake and dehydrating you, your blood sugar levels also get negatively affected. Thus, the next logical question is: ‘Does having alcohol with food minimize its effects?’ Not quite,
Alcohol also works as a ‘displacing agent’, meaning when you consume alcohol with meals, it serves as a blocking agent, prohibiting the absorption of several vitamins and minerals.
Alcohol, fat loss, and muscle building
Now that I’ve explained how alcohol affects your body, let’s take a look at how it affects fat loss and muscle gain.
On one side, your body will not burn body fat or build lean muscle tissue while it’s detoxifying itself of alcohol.
However, on the other side, alcohol moves straight to the front of the queue as your primary energy source, which
your body will burn through it as its ‘go-to’ energy source while it’s in your system.
Your body using alcohol as its main energy source is a lot like your car trying to run on water it will just break down shortly after you get going.
Have you ever gone for a run or a gym session the day after you have had four or five alcoholic drinks, to try and ‘sweat’ the alcohol out? And while working out, have you felt like it was coming out through your pores as you trained?
That being said, alcohol is one of the first things that I re-introduce in my programs once people hit their target weight or physique. This is because small amounts of alcohol, two or three glasses of wine on a Saturday night
for example, will go straight to the front of the queue to be used as energy.
So, if you train the following day, your body can potentially burn straight through any alcohol you drink.
Further, irrespective of the above-mentioned negative effects of alcohol, the feeling of relaxation you get with a small amount of alcohol can do wonders for stress levels in certain people.
How to use: I recommend limiting alcohol until you get to your target weight or physique, then re-introduce it once or twice a week.
Tip: There are roughly 64 calories in a shot of clear alcohol, Vodka, and Bacardi for example, and 82 calories in a glass of white wine. Beer has between 200 and 300 calories per pint. If you want to keep your calories on the lower side, limit your alcohol consumption to white wine and clear alcohol and save yourself a fortune in calories.
3 pints of beer: 600–900kcal
3 glasses of white wine: 246kcal
3 glasses of vodka and diet mixer: 192kcal