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Friday, June 3, 2011

Alcohol and Fitness: Party Hardy and Still Stay Lean

For many of you out there, summertime increase the partying rate. And if you’re in your early 20′s like myself, partying and alcohol often go hand in hand. While 80% of what you look like is determined by what you eat, it’s also determined by what you drink; and as many fitness buffs might tell you, alcohol and achieving your ideal physique are somewhat conflicting with one another.

Personally, I’m not a big drinker anymore. I knocked most of that out the past few years, but I do drink on occasion, and have a strategy to go along with it. First, I want to go over some facts about alcohol and it’s effects on your physique, and second, go over what I feel is the best approach to having fun this Summer (alcohol included), while not turning that six pack you’ve been working on into a bona fide beer gut.

Hoegaarden and Patron - My drinks of choice. I know, I'm so refined these days :)
Tequila shot? Sure, why not?

Actually I hate tequila, unless it’s good tequila, in which case I love tequila. Patron Silver is my personal favorite. Any night that includes Patron, it’s hard to have a bad time. Like I mentioned earlier, I am not a big drinker anymore, but kicking back with a beer and nights of going out are bound to happen to the majority of us. I have seen too many people go overboard with drinking and it consumes their lives. That’s not good. I’m sorry, but if you let alcohol over run your life, something needs to change. I’m not trying to pull a Tony Robbins here but come on. Now, for those of us who just like to party, let’s take a look at what happens when you tap the Rockies.
Caloric overload

Calorically, it’s pretty obvious: The calories you consume drinking, have to be accounted for in your daily caloric intake. And let’s face it, when you’re out, it’s easy to stack those calories up pretty quickly. Start the night off with a couple games of beer pong, some King’s Cup, and a couple glasses of jungle juice, and it’s not uncommon to have surpassed 1000 calories without realizing it. Here is the Caloric Content of a few of the more “innocent” alcoholic beverages:

* Bud Light (12 oz.) = 110 calories
* Budweiser (12 oz.) = 146 calories
* Shot of 100 proof liquor (1.5 oz.) = 124 calories
* Shot of 80 proof liquor (1.5 oz) = 97 calories
* Merlot red wine (5 oz) = 123 calories
* Pinot Grigiot white wine (5 oz) = 123 calories

And onto the heavy weights:

Per 200 ml/7 oz:

* Margarita = 453 calories
* White Russian = 360 calories
* Pina Colada = 381 calories
* Bailey’s Irish Cream = 442 calories

It's safe to say this guy probably loves beer just a little too much
A couple examples of how easily things can add up

A) So if Bailey’s is your drink of choice for the night, and you have five them throughout the night, you’re looking at 2,210 calories right there alone! That’s roughly a day’s worth of calories for a lot of you, so unless all you’re doing is drinking 5 Bailey’s for the day, plan on gaining weight. Not to mention, drunken nights usually include a trip through the Taco Bell drive thru, or In-N-Out, or Del Taco, or McDonald’s. None of which are conducive to getting lean and fit. Tack on another 1300 calories of fast food (easy to do) and that’s 3500 calories from booze and junk food, or exactly enough to add on a pound of fat.

B) If you were to drink just one regular Budweiser a night, it would add up to 53,290 extra calories per year, which equates to just over 15 lbs of fat! I normally don’t like these type of examples, because they don’t tell the whole story, but it’s pretty shocking to think of what a beer a night can do to a person’s physique.
Alcohol and fat metabolism

Hormonally, there are a few reasons why alcohol will deter people from their fitness goals.

Not only is consuming crazy amounts of calories easy to do on drinking nights; alcohol also puts a halt on your body’s ability to burn fat. When alcohol is in the bloodstream, insulin levels are spiked (which like a carb overload, can lead to fat storage). Not only that, but alcohol recognized as a poison by the body and your body will turn its attention to ridding the alcohol from the body and neglect burning fat while doing so.

It’s also been shown that testosterone levels drop when alcohol is consumed excessively. And for guys trying to build muscle, you need all the testosterone you can get. So muscle building is also put to a screeching halt.
Ways to reduce the damage

Personally I try and not drink unless there’s an occasion to do so. I don’t really get the urge to just “have a beer”. That’s just me though. So I drink when there’s an event going on or some other reason to do so. Some other ways to improve the situation:

* Drink less often. The less often you drink, the lower your tolerance. You’ll get a buzz going with less drinks which is good for your body and your wallet!
* If you’re a mixed drink drinker, avoid sugary mixers like juice, soda and sour mix. Also tonic water is full of sugar. Opt for club soda and a lime instead. Great drink: Gin and Soda with a lime
* The drunken munchies are bound to happen – but instead of hitting up the local fast-food joint, have some chicken and veggies already made at home. Anything will taste good by this point of the night! People just opt for fast food because it’s appealing at the moment and convenient. Make a better choice convenient.
* Eat less total on your drinking days. To compensate for all the liquid calories you’ll be downing, it’s a good idea to plan on eating less beforehand so your calories will be more in check when the day’s said and done.

I know I've said it before, but cruise ships are THE place to party! And the alcohol definitely flows here.
The Take Home

In short, alcohol simply isn’t your body’s friend. Your body stops burning fat, stops building muscle, and it makes you want to eat anything and everything in sight. Not exactly the best formula for getting lean is it?

Is that to say you should never ever drink? Of course not. As in life, balance and moderation are what count here. It’s like eating pizza. Can you eat pizza? Sure you can, just don’t eat the whole pie. Can you drink alcohol? Sure you can, just try not to drink the whole 12 pack.
Summer Fun

It’s no fun to go out if you’re paranoid the whole night about each and every calorie you eat or drink. Just train yourself to be aware beforehand and it will naturally lessen the damage. Night’s out are for letting loose and having fun! If alcohol is part of that game plan, then so be it. Just limit these nights to times when it’s actually worth it. I’ve had too many nights out that I overdrank, ended up lame anyway, and set me back in my fitness goals. Fitness isn’t everything, living life is! So have fun this Summer – nothing really beats a Corona on the beach.

Source: Hollywood Body Fitness

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