So most of us like to enjoy a drink right. The problem is that alcohol and weight loss generally don´t go together very well. So how do you overcome this and find a balance that allows you to still enjoy a quick drink while losing weight or maintaining your new lean body. From experience I know that if I advised clients or friends to stop drinking completely to help them lose weight it might happen for a week or two but after that is just wasn´t a realistic situation they could maintain. So to try and get the best of both worlds whereby you can lose or maintain weight, enjoy feeling good and yet still have a social life I did some research and came up with some basis rules regarding alcohol and weight loss that work for me and should hopefully do the same for you
James Bond manages to stay in shape while enjoying the odd glass of alcohol and I think you can do the same if you can show discipline. Out of all the bonds I still think Connery looked the coolest no matter what he was doing.
1)Always remember to include any alcohol drink in your daily calorie allowance.
As you do know losing weight is basically about creating a calorie deficit that forces the body to burn fat for extra energy. So for example if you know that you need to be taking in around 2000 calories a day along with your regular fat burning workouts to lose weight then in theory if you have a quick drink and this doesn´t take you over this limit you should still be able to lose fat. The issue is that many us have no real idea of how many calories we have eaten and also forget to count any drinks towards this total the result being stagnant weight loss or consistent weight gain. To help you stop doing this without getting anal about calories in calories out my rules are if you want a drink with your meal then the carbs (potatoes, bread, rice etc) have to go and there is no dessert. Having all three or even 2 of these together is a recipe for fat storage so make your choice and go with it.
2 Know your limits and stop the bingeing
Following on from first rule I think you have to set limits on how much you drink. For me that is no more than 2 glasses or wine or 4 small beers in one session and I don´t drink on more than 2 occasions a week. That is my guide most of the year round and when I want to reduce body fat I will reduce this down or cut it out completely for a few weeks. Now before you shout boring!! I think you have to look at yourself and what your priorities are. Years ago my priority was going out on regular basis and having a good time meaning I would regularly binge drink and get myself into trouble. Now my priority is my health and feeling good so getting wasted is not on my agenda plus I know if you want to maintain a lean healthy body then drinking to excess regularly is just not acceptable.
If you are trying to lose weight and still going out getting smashed on a regular basis then I think you need to recognize that you are not serious about reaching your goals and enjoying optimal health at this point in your life. Accepting this will stop you getting frustrated with your progress and kidding yourself that one day you will have your ideal body.
With alcohol and weight loss you have to compromise so set your limits and stick with them.
Note – By the way I do recognize that there are certain occasions such as weddings, birthdays, holidays etc where alcohol should be enjoyed a little more freely without guilt. What I am advocating you stop or minimize is after work drinks that get out of hand, getting smashed every weekend in your local bar or going around friends houses or having people around most weeks for a meal that results in a savage hangover.
So the first two rules are about controlling what you drink and keeping it within limit for staying lean and feeling healthy. The next 2 are all about minimizing the impact on your fat loss efforts should you be tempted out on a big night
3) Eat before you go out
I know this is obvious advice but it amazes how many people I know who come out start drinking on an empty stomach and then wonder while they are feeling to rough early on in the night. Apart from allowing the alcohol to absorb more quickly into the bloodstream and having a stronger and quicker effect drinking on an empty stomach makes you more prone to snack on the empty calorie quick fix carb foods that are found in bars. I advise having a small meal before going out that consists mainly of proteins and healthy fats as these foods take longer to break down making you feel fuller longer and slows down the absorption of the alcohol. I also like to do an intense workout earlier in the day before I go out to create a large energy deficit so I have more calories to play with.
4) Stay hydrated as much as possible when out
When I suggest drinking water on a night out you can see people nodding in agreement but I just know they will never do it. Alcohol is a diuretic hence the need to use the loo frequently and the horrible feeling of gasping for liquid when you wake up the morning after. When you become severely dehydrated the body is less efficient at burning fat plus you won´t feel like doing much in terms of exercise. To try and avoid this instead of trying to force down a big glass of water just before you go to bed as is often advised I found a more practical way is too add in regular drinks of water throughout the evening. Along with helping the hydration issue you may find you drink less alcohol as you include the water breaks
5 Try and get home at a reasonable time.
Being out till all hours seems to be a given when going out for a drink. The thing is if you don´t have much or very little sleep with alcohol swilling around your system expect a poor night´s sleep. The result of this as most of us know is no motivation, cravings for high calorie foods and a metabolism that is running on a low speed. I know a little tiredness is to be expected after a night but it can be limited if you manage to get to bed at a certain hour. Now for me this hour is getting earlier and earlier as I get older but I know if I can get too bed before 2.00am the next day is going to be manageable. Any time after this and especially after 3.00 then I can kiss goodbye to the day after and still be feeling the effects 3 days later. Now I set my time to exit and stop drinking at least 2 hours before I go so at least I have a chance of getting some decent sleep.
6) Keep it from your friends that you’re limiting your drinking
Finally if you want to watch what you’re drinking then in my experience it is better to keep this to yourself. Trying to explain why you are cutting back can often lead to increased peer pressure as people feel uncomfortable with change then make it their mission to drag you back to the where they are to make themselves feel better. If you are not getting support from your circle of friends about your decision with alcohol and finding it hard to resist their pressure then it may be time to reconsider how much time you spend with these people. I know this is an extreme step to take but if you are serious about losing weight and changing your body and lifestyle for good then limiting time with these people may be the difference between success and failure.
Let me say again that if you are really serious about making big changes to your body then alcohol has to be limited. In fact if you want to take your physique to elite levels i.e. get a six pack stomach then in the short term I would avoid alcohol completely. I guarantee that if you spoke to some of the people you see that have amazing bodies they would tell you they have a very controlled attitude to alcohol. I do believe you can attain a great body and still enjoy a drink but you have to be prepared to make big changes to your lifestyle. If you are not prepared to do this or haven´t got the discipline then I think you must acknowledge that the body you really want will be unattainable.
If you have any rules or tips regarding alcohol and weight loss please leave a comment below.