Boozing and Beasting! Can you down that mixer and still exercise? Let’s find out

If you’re reading this, you probably are a regular gym enthusiast and not a professional bodybuilder. ‘Cause professional bodybuilders lead an extremely strict lifestyle and do not indulge in anything which could be counterproductive to their goals. This article is for the regular gymrat who wants to get there and still be able to enjoy the good life!

Now, just to make it clear at the outset,from a bodybuilding standpoint, alcohol and training should not mix, however, we will be confronted with situations where avoiding it completely may become difficult at times. Well, If you’re seeking the Buddha and must go down the path of enlightenment through intoxicating your body and soul, you must read this piece to understand alcohol’s metabolic impact on the body and follow the guidelines highlighted when you choose to drink.I was blown away! I sincerely hope it does the same to you!

I started lifting weights with one goal in mind, become the best version of myself. I committed to this goal one hundred percent and began preparing a list of all activities I did outside the gym.

Thus, the process of eliminating all social and non-physical influences began with considerable enthusiasm. The list included the works. Social gatherings, clubbing, eating out, parties and all the activities which involved indulgence of any sorts. I struck off these from my list of do’s and made a covenant with myself to refrain from it as long as it takes me to get where I need to. Soon, I realized I had become a social boycott. All of this at what cost? To achieve a good physique? What good is a physique if it is earned over sacrificing life.  You sure must work hard and let go off a few things when you start playing the game “I want to be the best in what I do” and that, ladies and gentlemen, is the hard fact associated with achieving anything extraordinary. However, you don’t give up on living. Moderation is key. Like I always say, a good physique is a combination of exercise, nutrition to the point and learning how to control your environment. This article is related to the aspect of controlling the environment and enjoying the good life by occasionally indulging in social activities and continue to build that dream physique. You need to know the science behind things. Knowledge precedes success. Simple!

Now, the question we are often confronted with, does alcohol consumption lead to obesity? Will I gain weight if I drink alcohol? Can I still build muscle while drinking alcohol? Well, before we go any further, as always, Let me publish this link which covers a research from NCBI talking about the relationship between alcohol consumption and obesity. Have a read.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4338356/

 

To summarize the article above, it speaks about inconclusive and conflicting evidence on alcohol consumption leading to obesity. Research has found that there are multiple factors which are responsible for weight gain and alcohol alone does not promote the same. Overall, weight gain happens due to many factors and it is difficult to truly asses the independent influence of alcohol on obesity.  However, does drinking alcohol make you fat? Or, the right question to ask is, could we drink occasionally and continue to exercise and build muscle?  The short answer, yes and no! why am I being cryptic? Well it completely depends on your goal. If you’re a professional bodybuilder or a fitness model preparing for a competition or a photo shoot, you obviously will not touch alcohol as it can hinder training and influence other things. On the other hand, if you are a fitness enthusiast who trains and does other things for a living, you sure can indulge occasionally and continue to exercise without having any major impact on your goals. Let’s break this down further by understanding how is alcohol manufactured and processed by the body.

How is alcohol manufactured?

Alcohol is manufactured from grains or fruits and sugar sources. The process involves fermentation and then distillation.

How does our body metabolize alcohol?

When we drink an alcoholic beverage, it does not completely get absorbed in the blood stream. Majority of it is processed by the liver. The remaining amount is washed away by urine and sweat. The rate of absorption is further influenced by the food in the stomach, the mix used with the alcohol, etc. Food slows down the rate of absorption. This means that the alcohol won’t enter into your blood stream that quickly and your blood alcohol concentration won’t rise as quickly. Another important factor is that after you consume alcohol, the body stops everything and starts to burn that first. This doesn’t stop or hinder fat burning, its simply delays it. The calories in alcohol are empty calories and do not have any nutritional value.

Now, does all this make alcohol bad?

Technically, no. Indulging in binge drinking can be bad and that can make it addictive. When you consume an alcoholic beverage, it releases chemicals in the brain which make you feel light and leads to a happy feeling. This makes you want to repeat the experience and have more than you can handle. Alongside, you often indulge in eating all the wrong things and gradually it becomes a habit. Over and above this, weight gain is further influenced by less physical activity. So, technically, alcohol alone does not make you gain weight, it’s all these factors which add fuel to the fire. As stated in the research above, there is no conclusive evidence on alcohol independently influencing weight gain.

Now, having said all this, indulgence in excessive alcohol consumption will be counterproductive to your health and fitness goals, however, we can’t ignore the fact that alcohol plays a major role in our social lives and forms an important part of most celebrations.

When consumed in large quantities, it has a negative effect on testosterone which can be detrimental if your goal is to build muscle or lose fat. However, if you were to have a drink or two occasionally and eat clean along with regularly training, it wouldn’t interfere with your goals. Why? Well its simple.

  1. Alcohol like any other macro nutrient has calories, seven per gram to be precise.
  2. When we measure our calories, everything we consume must be accounted for. Whether that’s food or alcohol.
  3. What you eat along with alcohol and how it impacts your training is what we need to understand.

If you drink every time to get drunk, then this article is not for you. You’re in a happy state already. However, if you want to indulge in drinking occasionally, you certainly can incorporate this into your lifestyle. Two or three shots of low calorie drinks a few times a week will not interfere with your healthy lifestyle. Make sure you don’t indulge in binge drinking and eat unhealthy with it.  Again, it depends entirely on what your health goals are. If your someone who wants to lead a healthy lifestyle by eating right and exercise a few times a week, this approach should be alright. On the other hand, if you’re serious about body composition and maintaining low body fat levels, make sure to refrain. If you can’t, make sure it’s on occasions and follow the guidelines below. Just want to mention that I do not promote or encourage drinking. I only want to highlight the nuances from my own experience and state facts published in research conducted over the years.

General guidelines

  1. Drink low calorie drinks whenever you must.
  2. The mixer you choose can bump up the calories of the beverage, so choose wisely.
  3. Alcohol is a diuretic.You must drink plenty of water between drinks to stay hydrated. Muscles are made up of cells. Cellular hydration influences hypertrophy which leads to muscle growth. You want to make sure you are hydrated if you are to keep those gains. Alongside,this will help to quickly wash the alcohol off.
  4. Avoid liqueurs and beer. Liqueurs are distilled and then flavoured with fruits and sugar and beer contains high amount of carbs.
  5. What you eat along with alcohol and how it affects your training is what matters.
  6. Eat more of protein and vegetables than carbs when you drink. Protein moderates the rate of absorption and you will avoid getting drunk. Fiber from veggies keeps you full for longer, hence reduces your total calorie consumption. Make sure you don’t indulge in a feast or binge eat when you drink.
  7. Keep your calories low on the day you decide to drink. How to do this? Just reduce your fat intake by half and it does the trick. This will reduce your total calorie intake for the day and make room for some alcohol. Each gram of fat has 9 calories. When you’re consuming let’s say 65-80 grams of fat on a 2000 calorie diet, this is around 720 calories, dropping 50% will reduce it by around 360 calories. One standard shot of spirit, 30 ml or one ounce has around 70-75 calories. Do the math and you can figure out your consumption.
  8. Another reason to keep your fats low is cause’ fat is more easily absorbed in the blood stream when you drink due to alcohol metabolizing acetate. Acetate (toxic substance) inhibits the body’s fat burning processes when consumed.
  9. Include a bit of cardio with your strength training after your drinking day. This will help to burn the excess calories and get your metabolism back on track.

Remember, your priority must always be to eat right, train hard and get good amount of rest. This is critical when it comes to building a good physique. Everything else is secondary.

Drink if you may, however, do it sensibly!

We lift, therefore we are!

Cheers!

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