Back in October, we ran a poll through MorningRep on the frequency of alcohol usage among our readership. Impressively fitness-focused you are! 37% say they drink very occasionally and 20% say they never drink. Not bad. Not bad at all. 29% say they have a couple/few per week and 14% say they drink regularly.
Which best describes how you drink alcohol? 🍷 🍺
— MorningRep (@MorningRep) October 11, 2017
Let’s first forget any studies or research that say a glass a wine is healthy because “x” or a beer a day is healthy because “y”. We don’t need to go there. We’re talking about the battle between abs and belly fat here. If you want to test those theories to see if you live to 86 instead of 85, go right ahead. But, if you’re more concerned about not being able to lose those few extra pounds, start seeing more definition, or you really want to transform your body into a muscle-building machine, then 57% of the MorningReppers are right: Alcohol is not on your team.
But, how much alcohol can you drink?
If you drink here and there, will all of your hard work go to crap? No, not really. Is it possible to still lose weight or stay incredibly lean? Sure, but within reason. Does being 41 or 31 instead of 21 make a difference? Yes. Are there other factors that push the needle in either direction? Yes, lots.
Ultimately it’s going to come to down you to figure out what works (and doesn’t work) for you.
The cut-and-dry reasons why alcohol is garbage for gains
There are two big ones:
- The extra calories quickly add up
- It screws up all kinds of processes within your body when it comes to building muscle and burning fat
You’re putting crap fuel in your gas tank. You’re burning treated wood in your fireplace. You get the point…
If you’re good about your diet, you know what you’re consuming. A few drinks later and you can add 300, 400 or more calories on top. Drinking wine or mixed drinks? There’s a few sugar bombs for ya, too.
Going out for drinks anyway? Check out the Detox v2.0 plan when you’re back to work.
On the other hand, why it might not kill your gains
If you have a couple drinks here and there but your diet is amazingly consistently and on point, you’re most likely just fine. If you slip on your diet regularly, not so much.
The secret formula: how to drink and still make gains
If you’re dead-set on making a huge body transformation, there isn’t one. Don’t drink. If you’re in a good space with your body, these strategies could help keep you there.
#1. Stay away from mixed drinks
They’re loaded with sugar. Whether it’s the cranberry juice, tonic, or whatever other weird flavored stuff there is out there, it’s all junk. If you like the hard stuff, mix it with club.
#2. Load up on H2O
Drink one massive glass of water for every drink you have. It will help you stay hydrated for one, and secondly, the more water that’s in you, the less the other stuff is.
#3. Cut back on carbs
This is a big one. Do it both the day of and day after. Is there science behind this? No idea. At the very least you’ve got less calories from carbs in you. But make sure to still keep the protein up. Only side effect is that you could feel a buzz a bit sooner—don’t know if that’s a good thing a or bad thing, guess it depends on who you ask.
#4. Have a proteinini
You eat every 3 hours or so, right? Well, now you’re going however many hours drinking alcohol instead. Your muscles are crying, and if you’re in a dive bar they don’t really want those stale peanuts and pretzels. Here’s a trick. Have a ready-to-go protein packet with you. Although, chocolate protein doesn’t taste very good after a couple beers, IMO.
#5. Pre-game with a heavy-duty workout
Before you decide to liquor up, hit the gym, lift heavy things and do some high-intensity interval cardio. Do big body parts like legs, back, chest. Save the arms and abs for another day.
#6. Get back on track ASAP
Don’t let your diet slip, don’t skip a workout. Get back in there the next day—no matter how crappy you feel. Check out our new 6-week Unlabeled workout plan. And be sure to follow HFP on Instagram for our freshest stuff.