How Alcohol Impacts Weight Loss & Muscle Growth
Many people don’t think that alcohol has any place in a healthy diet.
Well, it may surprise you to hear that you can actually drink a moderate amount of alcohol and still get into fantastic shape.
Alcohol has 7 calories in every gram, doesn’t contain any useful nutrients, and doesn’t help you feel full at all.
In this sense, if you drink too much alcohol – above your caloric requirements and in lieu of eating the right amounts of other macronutrients and vitamins – it can be very unhealthy indeed, leading to weight gain and malnutrition.
However, in moderation, alcohol has been linked with a variety of benefits, such as improved insulin sensitivity and reduced triglycerides in the bloodstream.
In addition, a variety of studies have shown that moderate drinkers tend to live longer than non-drinkers – and that moderate alcohol consumption can reduce the risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, certain cancers, and even the common cold!
So if moderate alcohol consumption has all of these benefits, why has it been long-held to make you fat and hurt your muscle growth?
There are typically 2 main arguments against drinking alcohol on a diet: the impact on your hormones, such as testosterone, and how it affects your body’s ability to burn and store fat.
Let’s take a brief look at both of these.
The Impact Of Alcohol On Testosterone Levels
Testosterone is a hormone – and it is important to have enough of it if you are looking to build muscle effectively.
For years, alcohol has been thought to reduce testosterone – and while this is true, the impact is grossly exaggerated.
For instance, a recent study showed that men who drank 3 beers every day for 3 weeks straight had a 6% drop in testosterone.
In the scheme of things, this is a very small drop, and you would need to drink a lot of alcohol regularly for it to have a significant impact on your testosterone levels.
Moderate alcohol consumption (1-2 drinks a day, or less), is highly unlikely to have a noticeable impact on your testosterone.
The Impact Of Alcohol On Fat Storage
Another concern with alcohol is how it can impact your body’s ability to burn and store fat.
There is some truth to this, since when you drink alcohol your body will prioritize burning it before utilizing the carbs and fats that you’ve eaten.
However, alcohol itself is very difficult for your body to store as fat – much more difficult, in fact, than either carbs or fat.
Therefore, the biggest issue is if you eat a big fatty meal along with drinking alcohol, where you may then be more likely to store some of those carbs and fats you’ve eaten as fat.
But if the rest of your caloric intake is in order – and you include a moderate amount of alcohol as part of that intake – then it isn’t going to make you fat or hurt your ability to lose weight.
Moderation Is The Key
If you drink a lot of alcohol – and do so frequently – it will almost certainly impair your progress.
Plus, you’ll feel like shit if you’re drinking that much, and probably won’t have very effective workouts!
That being said, if you drink a moderate amount, and keep within your caloric targets for the day, then it shouldn’t really be a problem.
Just remember that when you do drink alcohol, it should take away from your carb or fat calories for the day, not your protein calories.
Always keep your protein high – especially on days where you drink alcohol.
Also, I would recommend sticking to lower calorie alcoholic drinks when possible – such as spirits and wine – and avoiding sugary mixed drinks, since this is an easy way to take in a whole bunch of additional calories needlessly.