THE ATHLETE'S GUIDE TO ALCOHOL
As we stated in the recap post of our SHINER BARBELLS & BREWS EVENT, often alcohol can be cast aside during most health and fat loss efforts. For some, that is an easy habit to kick, but others, our connoisseurs, purveyors and one great friend and client of mine, the occasional sip, drink, pint, can be justified by the quality, taste and occasion of said beverage. For many people, I’d like to start off the conversation with advice.. Relax. While we are often told life is short and that should justify living freely, I will also argue that life is long. And to me that means, we have plenty of time to work toward our goals, lose weight, perform to our best potential and reach self-fulfillment. In the grand scheme of things, the occasional drink in moderation won’t hold you back too much and you should still be able to reach your goals even with the occasional sweet, treat or drink.
With the above point considered, I’d like to dive into some of the effects of alcohol consumption on our physical appearance and performance how to mitigate some potential pitfalls. For sake of keeping this light and brief, I will bullet the key points and leave questions, details, etc… up for discussion on Facebook, Instagram, or in person.
Alcohol Bulleit Points… (I have puns for days)
- Alcohol, as a macronutrient, is 7 calories per gram. Compared to Proteins =4, Carbs =4, Fat =9
- Your body’s response to Alcohol is to prioritize the process of ridding alcohol from your blood stream and the body. This can result in slowing the absorption of other macros.
- Alcohol products Nutrition Facts are often incorrectly labeled and poorly depicts your true calorie consumption is.
- When consumed sparingly, alcohol can have little overall effect on the physique, however, like all things, in excess alcohol can contribute to a considerable amount of negative weight gain.
- In some cases, Bodybuilders/Physique competitors and Weight Class based athletes have used alcohol as a way to appear more dry (vascular & leaner appearance) or used for the diuretic effect of alcohol (commonly light beers) to cut water weight in the last few hours prior to a weigh-in.
[Skip to Conclusion if you don't care about science, research & just want to know what you should do.]
Relevant Research on Alcohol Consumption for Health:
- Alcohol increases testosterone levels after training. Overall this is an inconsistent study with very little support and even the demonstrated “boost” of testosterone was negligible in it’s effect.
- Resveratrol, a chemical found in Red Wine is said to be beneficial for not only health related issues, but has been said to almost replace the need for exercise due to it’s fat loss and the way it metabolizes stored sugars. This can also be a case of the research being exaggerated especially in the case of consuming Resveratrol solely from Red Wine.
- Post Exercise Alcohol Consumption can be improved with the addition of Protein A very interesting research study explored how when coupled with Protein, consuming alcohol post exercise may have a neutral almost protective effect on “gains.” Normally post exercise alcohol can help in the breakdown of tissue and hinder the growth and formation of new tissue. So this is more of an attempt at Damage Control, rather than a reason to drink alcohol after training.
From the studies provided above, we can determine that alcohol does not have a favorable effect on physical performance or appearance. With the addition of Protein, the negative effects can be slightly limited, however, the calories from alcohol should still be accounted for along with the effect alcohol will have on the digestion of other nutrients. While alcohol shows little-to-no favorable effect toward health or performance, one could justify alcohol still holds a helpful place in the reduction of stress, and in the diet of “hard-gainers” or people who have a difficult time putting on/maintaining muscle mass. For those looking to reduce body-fat or perform at a high-level both mentally and physically, alcohol consumption should be as limited as possible.
ALSO… live your life. You may not have to cut it out entirely just yet. Consult with an experience alcohol enthusiast… I’m sure there are plenty good ones in a bar near you. Or maybe a nutritionist who also enjoys the occasional adult beverage.