The weekend is here and you're ready to party it up like you do every Friday and Saturday night with your friends. After all, you abstain all week so you can really enjoy those cocktails. But if you're trying to lose fat, training for your next CrossFit competition, or just trying to improve your workouts at the gym, you may want to think twice.
There’s nothing wrong with having a few adult beverages here and there, but if you drink every weekend, it may be the reason you’re having such a hard time dropping those last 10 pounds or shaving those seconds off your “Hellen” time.
And here’s why:
1. Alcohol Stops Your Body From Burning Fat
While you may enjoy that buzz you get after those first few sips of your favorite cocktail, your body doesn’t. See, your body views alcohol as toxic and works very hard at trying to get rid of it. Your liver is responsible for burning fat and carbs for energy. Your liver is also responsible for helping your body get rid of alcohol. Carb and fat metabolism comes to a complete halt when your liver is processing alcohol. That means, no fat burning.
While you may have heard that this is the number one reason you should avoid drinking on a diet, alcohol doesn’t stop fat-burning for very long. Just long enough to get rid of the alcohol which will be dependent on how much you drink. So, while alcohol does impede fat-burning, it isn’t the number one reason it’s making it hard for you to reach your goals.
2. Adds Unnecessary Calories
The lack of weight loss may have more to do with calories. As you may have guessed, alcohol, unlike carbs, fat and protein, isn’t an essential nutrient. But it is a source of calories, with 7 calories per gram. Compare that to 4 calories per gram of carbs or protein and 9 calories per gram of fat.
How does that translate into a drink?
1.5 ounces of vodka, rum, gin or tequila: 100 calories
12 ounces of regular beer: 150 calories
12 ounces of light beer: 100 calories
4 ounces of wine: 120 to 125 calories
4 ounces of champagne: 85 calories
Martini: 120 to 150 calories
Mojito: 150 calories
Pina colada: 500 calories
Margarita (4 ounces): 170 calories
Keep in mind that some of us are not pouring 4oz of anything and we find the biggest wine glass or mug in our house and consider it “one glass”. You aren’t alone, most of us have been there. Knowing the appropriate serving size can surprise many! You may think you are only having 120 calories but when you measure the amount you poured it could be closer to 2 servings and having two glasses means 480 calories in just your casual “glass” or two of wine.
Of course with wine, beer and mixed drinks some of those calories come from carbs. In any event, all calories count no matter where they come from. And if you didn’t make adjustments to your diet to fit in those drinks or stopped counting after your second or third cocktail, those extra calories quickly add up.
3. Lowers Your Inhibitions
All week, you’re so controlled. Eating exactly as your plan dictates. All your fruits and veggies, healthy proteins and the right grains. But after a few drinks, you may say the heck with it and veer off course. While it can be OK to eat pizza or ice cream when you’re dieting , if this happens every Friday and Saturday night (and maybe Thursday after happy hour and Sunday brunch) you may have just thrown all that control and hard work right out the window.
4. Appetite Stimulant
It’s not just that alcohol may lead to poor food choices, but it also may cause you to overeat. I’m sure you’ve noticed a kick in your appetite after you’ve had a few drinks. This is partly due to low blood sugar, which occurs because your body is so busy breaking down alcohol it’s not releasing sugar into your blood. So in addition to your cheeseburger and fries, you may also polish off a plate of nachos and end the night with a piece of chocolate cake to try to satisfy your insatiable hunger.
5. Post-Morning Hangover
You know the feeling. Headache. Severe thirst. Groggy. And hungry. Oh, so hungry. Low blood sugar plus dehydration = ravenous appetite. Nothing cures a night out better than a big greasy breakfast at your favorite diner. And, for some of you, that meal may just kickstart a day spent eating to help cure the hangover and the appetite.
How to Enjoy Adult Beverages on Your Plan
Just like your diet, you need to control the amount of alcohol you drink. Limit yourself accordingly. For example, one to two drinks a week, making adjustments to your diet plan to fit in your beverage. Moderation will always be your best friend.
Keep a lid on calories with lower calorie drinks such as a champaign, light beer or “skinny” drinks such as tequila and fresh lime juice or vodka and soda. Be wary that some drinks have more than one shot and can add up fast!!
Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Food not only helps prevent low blood sugar, and all the diet problems that come with it, but may also delay the effects alcohol has on your body.
For the record, it’s generally recommended that women should have no more than one drink a day and men no more than two INCLUDING weekends. Depending on your goals and how serious you are about fat loss or being a competitive athlete, your answer may be limiting alcohol all together. The choice is yours!
Here is a great tool for calculating your drinks: