There’s a reason it’s nicknamed the “beer belly.” If you are serious about fat-loss, you may need to re-think your alcohol intake … or even take some time off from it altogether.
It’s not exactly a secret that boozin’ can hinder body transformation. Consider this laugh-out-loud moment during a scene in last year’s “Jurassic World” movie: Chris Pratt’s character (Owen) asks Bryce Dallas Howard’s character (Claire Dearing), “What kind of diet doesn’t allow tequila?” To which she responds, “All of them, actually.”
For the Owen’s of the world, let me explain why alcohol can wreck your body transformation goals:
- Alcohol, like soda or mosts, is comprised of “empty calories.” Drink a couple glasses of wine and you are taking in hundreds of calories and carbohydrates that are devoid of nutrients. When working to gain muscle and lose fat, it’s important for all of your calories to work for you and fuel you the right way. Many drinks are loaded with much more: those jumbo-sized margarita’s at your favorite Mexican joint can set you back almost 600 calories and over 100 grams of sugar, but do nothing to satisfy hunger or make you fit. You could’ve have eaten a huge sandwich or cheeseburger instead!
- Alcohol is a diuretic. Each serving of alcohol will negate a serving of water. For most people, it’s difficult enough to hit their daily quota of hydration, never mind needing to drink extra. Dehydration is the cause of hangovers.
- Speaking of hangovers, how likely are you to get a workout in when you are hungover? To eat a salad instead of cheese-y diner food?
- How likely are you to eat the cheese-y, fried stuff when you’re drunk? Ever ordered pizza or made a late-night group run through the drive-thru after a night of drinking?
- Alcohol inhibits good sleep – you will fall asleep fast, but you won’t be able to sleep well. Quality sleep is essential for muscle repair.
- Alcohol can have an effect on the hormone output that supports muscle growth. It increases the production of estrogen, which can lead to a higher body fat percentage for both men and women, instead of testosterone for muscle growth (trust me ladies, you have testosterone, too).
- The biggest way alcohol negatively affects fat loss is its effect on your metabolism. Alcohol is a toxin in any form, whether whiskey or wine. While your body is busy detoxing, it can’t function well. It can’t repair damaged tissue from workouts, absorb nutrients from your food properly or use fat as fuel. You cannot recover from your workouts efficiently, and your metabolism is compromised.
There are the facts. Now here’s the real-life example:
During Tewksbury Sports Club’s Biggest Winner contest last year, I challenged my 16 clients to a “sober challenge.”
I promised that for the eight weeks of the contest, I would join them in giving up alcohol so they could see the changes it would make in their health.
Many of the 16 who accepted the challenge had amazing results, some even experiencing a 20-pound loss that until then was proving stubborn. For some, alcohol was the last thing to change, since they had changed their eating and exercise habits. The Biggest Winner first place contestant, Doug Patten, was a part of the sober challenge, and continued to abstain for the rest of year ( a big factor in his 100-pound loss).
Honestly, I think a good portion of them were happy for an excuse to give up the sauce. Who else has been in a social situation where they felt pressured to imbibe? Maybe you always wanted to “dry out” for a time, but needed a buddy to help with willpower.
Before you think I’m suggesting you give happy hour forever, know that I’m a huge fan of moderation (I’m also a huge fan of IPAs). It’s true that there is evidence to support that diet and exercise plans that are very extreme or restrictive can completely turn a person off to healthy change. Plus, there are some studies that say one to two glasses of red wine a day support heart health and can be a great source of antioxidants.
But, I believe that experimentation is necessary in your health and fitness journey. No one’s needs are the same, and you must find what works best for you. Experimentation allows you to learn more about yourself. In this instance, you could find that your party-down habits are hindering a healthy lifestyle that you truly want. You could also find that eliminating alcohol made no difference.
What’s great about the Biggest Winner contest is that it provides that team support that can be so helpful when taking on any challenge, dry or wet. It provides an environment to realize your potential. With peers and a professional health and wellness expert by your side, you can take your life into your own hands.
Are you game for the sober challenge? It’s not too late, but act soon – the Biggest Winner starts Saturday, May 7. Find out more by calling Tewksbury Sports Club or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org