Is alcohol and body fat a match made in hell?
Do you really want to know the answer? 😉
Well, in this post I’d like to share some good news; you can indeed consume alcohol and maintain or even lose body fat.
However, as you’d expect, there are a few caveats.
Caveat Number 1 – How much and often you drink
I’ll admit it, in younger and dumber years, “Moderation” was a term that I despised. I actually lived by the motto “If you’re not living on the edge, your taking up too much space”. I also sported 80’s glam rock hair, if that gives you an idea of my state of mind back then.
My natural inclination was to do everything to the extreme. This included habits and activities that were viewed as healthy and positive, like exercise. For a more recent example, when I started running at age 40, my goal was to complete The North Face 50 mile Trail Ultra Marathon Championships. I was able to check that off my bucket list. But was it healthy? Hell no.
But I digress. Back to moderation in terms of alcohol consumption.
My recommendation would be to limit your drinking to 1-2 times per week MAX.
Some of you are already in that moderate range, while others would have to cut their days of drinking in half (or more) to meet that recommendation.
Start where you are, and experiment with reducing your drinking days down to a truly moderate level.
Caveat Number 2 – What kind of alcohol you drink
Here’s another (somewhat embarrassing) admission; if I had my way, I’d usually have sugary concoctions like margaritas and daiquiris. What can I say, I love shakes, and those types of drinks that come with an umbrella are like alcoholic shakes.
However, we’d all do better by keeping our alcoholic beverages of choice as simple as possible. That means liquor either straight up, rocks or with a non-caloric mixer. There are several options, although club soda seems to be a solid go-to. I’d advise against the popular Red Bull(shit) as a mixer for too many reasons to address in this post.
What about beer? Is there such a thing as a “beer gut”?
The evidence that I’ve seen would suggest that there is a link between beer and abdominal fat. Likely it’s the fact that beer is highly estrogenic and has more gluten than most other alcohols. In terms of alcohol and body fat, I’d limit beer and stick to liquor most of the time.
Caveat Number 3 – What you EAT the day and night of your drinking festivities
This is a key point that is often overlooked or misunderstood.
It’s not so much the calories from the alcohol itself (except for those fancy sugary drinks), that are the issue. But rather the fact that your body utilizes the alcohol immediately as it’s fuel source.
What that means is that any other food that you eat before, during or after your drinking will more easily be stored as body fat. After all, those food calories are just units of energy that aren’t burned off, as the alcohol is acting as your fuel source.
The solution, not surprisingly, is to strictly monitor your food (both the amount and types of macronutrients) on your festive days/nights.
The amount of food is rather straight-foward. We’d suggest reducing your caloric intake by 30-40% that day and evening.
This should be easier prior to going out on the town, but is often more challenging was you are feeling the effects of the alcohol. In some ways it’s nice to have inhibitions lifted a few levels, but when it comes to ordering more (and often unhealthy) food… Houston, we have a problem.
Set yourself up for success in that environment. If you are familiar with the restaurant or bar, decide before going exactly what you’ll order to eat (if anything), and what you’ll avoid.
As for the macronutrient part of the solution, again let’s keep it simple: Eat primarily proteins and vegetables.
By eating modest amounts of lighter, high quality foods the day of your social activities involving alcohol, you’ll set up an environment where it’s unlikely that those calories will be stored as body fat.
So there you go; alcohol and body fat are often related, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Test out the tips in this post, and please pass on the good news to any friends or family members that benefit.