When you consume alcohol, it’s converted to acetate in the liver.
Acetate is a ‘toxin’ to the body, so it stops metabolising the other macronutrients – protein, carb, and fat – and gives immediate priority to acetate.
Unfortunately, this means fat burning is suppressed. 1
Alcohol can also inhibit dietary restraint and this can result in eating more food – especially of the high calorie kind.
Despite all this.
Alcohol calories aren’t immune to the first law. As researchers point out 2
Like any food that contains calories, you can factor your alcohol intake into your macros.
Do this – divide the total calorie count of the drink by 9. So if a drink contains 200 calories:
Ok, this is where your typical fitness professional might say something like: “if you’re constantly engaging in really heavy drinking: a) don’t, b) If you ignored the above: keep the heavy drinking to a minimum and maybe cut it out if you’re trying to lose fat – at least until the diet is over.”
But, seeing that I’m neither your typical fitness professional nor your dad: do whatever the fuck you want.
How to Get Rap Star Wasted and Not Die (a.k.a. Aadam, Tracking Alcohol Sucks and We All Know I’m Not Gonna Do It)
So let’s assume you decide to do whatever the fuck you want, and that fuck just happens to be a night of heavy drinking – which I totally don’t recommend or encourage but let’s say you ignore this second warning and are still wanting to get inebriated beyond belief. If that’s the case, follow these steps so that you don’t die…or, ruin your progress.
1. Avoid calorific mixers
2. Stay hydrated
3. Keep carbs and fats low during the day, with a focus on protein and veggies
4. Remove temptation
What about Alcohol and Testosterone?
It’s commonly claimed that drinking can impact testosterone levels. So, can it?
One study done in resistance-trained men gave the participants moderate doses of alcohol at 0.83 g/kg in the post workout period, noting no difference in testosterone levels. 3
In another study, participants were given 1.5 g/kg of alcohol and there was a 23% reduction in testosterone levels. 4
However: that’s a lot of alcohol.
So, unless you’re planning on becoming an alcoholic you don’t have to worry about the occasional drink emasculating you.
Alcohol and Muscle Gain
Now, this is where things get a bit tricky. Alcohol does impact muscle protein synthesis.
In one study from 2014, eight physically active males completed three experimental trials 5.
But. A few things to bear in mind.
- The participants in the study were given 1.5 g/kg of alcohol and as I showed you earlier this is an insanely large amount and way more than you’ll be drinking in a day – I hope, anyway.
- The training protocol was a ‘concurrent’ programme: the participants did strength training, then steady state cardio, then intervals one after the other with minimal rest 6 and this could have also, potentially, played a role in impacting MPS. 7
Again, as long as you’re not being completely stupid with your drinking you’ll be fine.
Take Home Points
- Don’t be afraid to have a few drinks a week – it’s not going to cause you any harm, on the contrary, moderate consumption of alcohol can be quite healthy 8 9
- If you’re going out and getting completely wasted every night, I dunno, maybe you need to reconsider your life choices?
- If you’re working towards a goal – like fat loss – and you know drinking will interfere – then cut down and/or stop until after you’ve achieved the goal.
- Try to make the day after your drinking a rest day. Depending on how hungover you are, it’s best to not go in and train after a heavy night out. But, as always: I’m not your dad, so do whatever the fuck you want.