Does Alcohol stop me losing fat?

A question I get a lot especially when I have people first sign up with me to train is "What about alcohol? Do I need to cut it out completely?

I have worked with a lot of people who enjoy going out for some drinks on the weekend. Let’s be honest, we all want to feel confident in whatever they wear to events, festivals, and out to the clubs on the weekend, and with most of these celebrations comes alcohol. And girl, we are all with you on that one! I am not one to shy away from a cheeky weekend long island iced tea.

But yes, you can still achieve weight loss with the inclusion of alcohol, have a read of my little rules below;

Rule no.1 - You need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight

It is important to know that there are 4 macronutrients. Protein and carbs which are 4 calories per gram, fat which is 9 calories per gram and our 4th macronutrient is alcohol which is 7 calories per gram. As you may have already seen from previous posts, you must create a calorie deficit to lose weight and there is several ways you can do this. Either by manipulating calorie intake or increasing output (being more active)

Which means, you can track alcohol in your macros. I do not recommend deducting from your protein requirement. But you can deduct from your fat or carb intake, or both. Typically, a wine is 125 calories and liquor are around 100 calories. But you need to be mindful of your mixers as these can have a lot of hidden calories and sugars in them and track them as well.

Ruel no.2 - Where it can go wrong

Usually, it’s not the calories from alcohol that I see cause weight gain. But the excess calories you may eat on a night out (maybe not remembering) or the next day when you aren’t feeling that crash hot. Depending on what and how much you eat, this can put you in a calorie surplus for the week and therefore cause weight gain.

If you are in a deficit all week then on the weekend go YOLO on food and double your calorie consumption than your average weekly calories will be in surplus. And what we know from energy balance is a surplus of calories results in weight gain.

Other things to consider

1)    The impact of alcohol on your gut health

In terms of gut health, alcohol can cause dysbiosis (overgrowth of bad bacteria). Which can result in an array of symptoms including persistent bloating, skin issues, bad breath, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, and anxiety. If you are already suffering from gut issues then alcohol can exacerbate these problems and prevent healing.

A side note, red wine has actually been shown to increase the number of good bacteria in the gut. However, the research was done with a consumption of only 1 glass of red wine per night for 28 days.

2)    You won’t burn fat until the alcohol is burnt

As alcohol is toxic to the body, the body will prioritize metabolization of alcohol above everything else. One study showed that fat oxidation was reduced by 79%, protein oxidation by 39%, and carbohydrate oxidation was completely diminished following excessive alcohol consumption.

3)    Binge drinking can decreases your testosterone

Testosterone is important for us as females for menstrual cycle health, sex drive, bone health, and fertility. We convert testosterone into other female sex hormones. Some research has shown after an episode of binge drinking that testosterone can drop 23% which isn’t great news for us when it comes to getting results. However, unless you are binge drinking regularly (every weekend) this isn’t going to have too much of an effect on your results.

Bringing it all together

We know from the research that when alcohol is consumed in low to moderate amounts it has no negative impact on body composition when calories are accounted for. Excessive consumption can cause issues and have negative impacts, particularly on performance. But generally, it’s not the alcohol making you gain weight but the high-calorie foods you eat when you are drunk and hungover.

What’s your plans / tactics to prevent or recover from a hangover?

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