"Everything in moderation, including moderation.”—Oscar Wilde
Julie was your everyday middle-age woman, who lived in a nice home in the suburbs that she tended to with a ferocious appetite for cleanliness. She had a loving husband and three somewhat wonderful children whom she drove to hockey practice every day. She had a nice government job that paid the bills easily, but often caused her serious headaches several days of the week. Which prompted her gym session after work nearly every day to relieve the stress of her day. However, Julie had a problem, she was getting fat and she wasn’t quite sure why.
Was it the onset of menopause?
Every night she would cook dinner for her family, which was always quite nutritious. She used tons of vegetables, fresh fruits and lean cuts of meat for most of her meals, with a giant salad and potatoes for her growing young children. Most often she would eat a bit of meat, salad and vegetables and then polish them all down with a glass of red wine. By the end of the evening and once the rambunctious horde had gone to bed, her moderate glass of wine had turned into a bottle, because Julie was beat and simply the wine dulled the pain.
That’s because many of us have trouble with alcohol consumption.
Alcohol is one of those great joys of growing older and being a responsible adult. However, it can one of those overindulgences that can lead to fat gain, even when we’re exercising correctly and watching most other factors.
Alcohol is one of those special nutrients that contains about 7kcals per gram. That’s almost as much calories as a gram of fat. So just because something says it has only 95kcals that doesn’t mean that’s it completely devoid of excess calories, especially if those calories are alcohol.
The really interesting thing about alcohol is that it is processed by the liver as a toxin, which really shouldn’t be surprising to anyone, but the key here is that it can be metabolized and broken down into energy. The problem is that it takes a while for that to take place and it has to do with your individual biochemistry. The liver will prioritize alcohol in order to handle the toxin and everything else will get stuffed aside for later. Once the liver has metabolized all the alcohol then it can deal with the rest of your metabolism.
The other factors to consider with alcohol are your age. As we age we lose are ability to handle large amounts of alcohol. Many of you whom have gone out with your girl friends or had a poker night with the guys can attest to this fact that if you overindulge one night, you can be hungover for quite a long time and totally ruin the next three days of your life. So not only has alcohol limited your metabolism for that one night of debauchery, but then it limits your activity level for several days to come.
Now we have the crowd that is willing to partake in one or two small drinks an evening to help with insulin sensitivity (your ability for insulin to act on your cells and absorb nutrients), which is a good thing, providing that you can stick with just one or two drinks. However for those with concrete fat loss or performance goals these generally go against what you’re trying to accomplish.
One sure fire way to slow down your progress in losing fat is to be consuming alcohol, unless of course that’s the only thing that you’re consuming on a regular basis, just like in Nickelback’s song, “…we’ll all stay skinning if we just don’t eat!” Of course that’s easier said than done, because what’s everyone want to do after drinking?
You guessed it you go out to eat at the greasiest place in town to help absorb all the alcohol, which is already having a party in your liver and dominating your metabolism. Remember, alcohol is processed first and inhibits all your abilities to burn fat and glucose, so while you’re finishing off the last slice of pizza and wings, your body is saying well, I’m not really sure what to do with all this extra stuff, I might as well throw it into storage and call it a day. Therefore you get fatter.
Now apply this enough times over the course of the year and well, you’re killing off your metabolism slowly every time you drink more than you should. And if you’re serious about cutting down on your level of body fat then it’s an absolute must to limit alcohol to keep that metabolism humming and running efficiently.
So what’s the solution? How do we still have our red wine without compromising our results in the gym?
Well, there are a couple things you can do to control the amount of body fat you accumulate and still drink a little bit of alcohol. Life’s too short to deprive yourself forever of the small luxuries that we have. Not to mention life would be super boring without a few vices.
Click here to download the Eat Drink Be Merry PDF on how to not gain an excessive amount of fat while consuming moderate amounts of alcohol.
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Jesse “Captain Smash” Howland is the owner of SMASH’s Strength Lab, which offers targeted personal training to reach a variety of fitness and physique goals. A natural bodybuilder, competitive powerlifter, certified personal trainer, and nutrition coach, Jesse is often the go-to resource for personal training Ottawa. He studied Exercise Science at Oregon State University and even trained at the world famous Gold’s Gym. He’s a former US Army Captain with the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, a former blog writer at Veterans Fitness Career College, and former Chief Executive Officer at U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM). His workouts and personal training are army-inspired to help reach your weightloss, athletic, or physique goals.