I didn’t know what I was in for as I sat on my McSeat in the early hours of a Sunday morning.
I was admiring the 20 nuggets perched on the table beside me which sadly weren’t mine.
Instead, they belonged to my friend who was busy making his way through his second burger of the meal.
And then it happened: the onslaught of abuse began which I can only describe as a mix between slurred screams of “salad boy” and a cat whose tail had just been trapped in a door; truly terrifying.
So I turned my head and was stunned to see that the abuse was being directed at me.
At the time I was pretty surprised that it was headed my way, but now I kinda get it as admittedly I was sat in McDonald’s surrounded by a load of fellow drunk students with a salad in my hands.
I mean, who orders a fricken salad at McDonald’s!?
Given that I was dieting at the time, my drunken self had made a smart decision though as it had recognised that I was better off foregoing the burgers and nugs but instead instigating a little damage control after gulping down half my day’s Calories as alcohol.
So, much to the disagreement of my adversary, I defended my choice of salad over a Big Mac and after a short, but somewhat heated debate, she decided to stumble away.
Now, whilst I made a good choice with my salad (from a dietary perspective) that night, I’m not going to pretend that the drinking side of the equation was in any means healthy (apart from psychologically to a degree as I had a fun time) and that it didn’t impact my results at all.
I did use a tried and tested strategy that enabled me to get drunk* whilst losing fat though (it was actually during this time that I got into the best shape of my life)
And in this blog I’ll explain exactly how I did it (by no means am I condoning excessive drinking; I’m just being real here as lots of us enjoy the odd drinking sesh).
*probably 2-4 times a month. Again, I’m not condoning drinking, am not encouraging it, and won’t pretend it’s healthy.
So here’s the deal with alcohol:
The thing with alcohol is that our body freaks the hell out when we consume it so it goes straight to the front of the metabolism line. By that, I mean that fat, carb, and protein metabolism (burning) gets put on the back burner as our body prioritises dealing with alcohol.
This is because unlike fat, carbs, and protein, our bodies can’t store alcohol so if it’s not given all the attention it ends up hanging around for too long and stirs up trouble as its metabolic by-product (acetate) is toxic.
So our bodies shut down fat burning to deal with the alcohol, meaning an early morning 20 pack of nugs is more likely to be stored as fat when getting drunk.
Given that alcohol is one of the macros, it also provides 7 Calories per gram. So whilst no one goes around drinking pure ethanol, 10g of the stuff racks in at 70 Calories. That’s roughly the amount of alcohol in a standard shot of spirit, like vodka or tequila, which therefore add up to around 70-100 Calories each.
Other alcoholic drinks have lots of other Calorie containing stuff added to them (like sugar), and spirits are usually drunk in combo with Calorie containing mixers like Coke and tonic. For example, a standard pint of beer contains in the region of 220 Calories, an espresso martini contains about 300 Calories, and a single vodka and Coke is 120.
So as you can see it’s easy to quickly rack up a high Calorie count from a few drinks or a night out. This can make maintaining a Calorie deficit (vital for fat loss) when dieting much harder if you don’t know what you’re doing. As I mentioned earlier, that doesn’t mean you need to completely forego drinking when you’re trying to strip off pounds though.
And with all that in mind we can get into the practical stuff.
How To Incorporate Alcohol Into Your Diet:
1. Obey the single most important rule for fat loss
First thing’s first, bar a few special scenarios (eg: new to lifting etc) you HAVE to consume fewer Calories than you burn over a prolonged period of time to drop body fat. I’ve covered this lots previously so won’t go into it here.
2. Adult-up and learn to say no
If you’ve got a goal to lose fat then accept that there will be some degree of sacrifice you have to make.
So ideally minimise the amount of alcohol you drink when dieting and consider if you genuinely want to drink when in a potential boozing situation, whether it be a casual beer with dinner or night out with friends.
In social situations you might feel pressure to drink but if you don’t actually want a beer, glass of wine, or whatever, just be an adult about it and say no (this also applies when offered stuff like cake; if you genuinely don’t want it for one reason or another, just adult-up say no).
3. Eat fewer Calories in the day
If you do want to drink then prepare for it earlier on in the day by eating fewer Calories. Do this by consuming less fat (or carbs) as opposed to protein. How you go about this is firstly working out how many Calories are in what you plan to drink. Then take this Calorie amount and divide it by 9 (or 4 for carbs). The result you get is the number of grams you need to take off your fat (or carb) target (If you’re not clear on what I’m talking about here, read this and then work out your Calorie and macro targets here).
Eg: if you’re having a 220 Calorie pint of beer, consume 25g less fat. It’s best to take the Calories away from fat as they’re the most likely to be stored as body fat when drinking, but this isn’t a huge deal so if you’d prefer, take it from your carb target or just focus on your overall Calorie target instead (again, work them out here).
4. Eat mostly protein, fruit, and veg in the day
You’re best off doing the maths as above and tracking where possible but if you’d rather not track then focus primarily on consuming protein dense foods, and low Calorie stuff like fruit and veg earlier on in the day as this will give you a good Calorie buffer for a few drinks. Also make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day and night as I will help with fullness and your head the following day.
5. Be smart with your choice of drink
Choose lower Calorie drinks and if having a mixer, make it a diet/zero Calorie one.
On a quantity of alcohol per Calorie basis, spirits with or without a diet mixer are the best option, whereas beers and cocktails are pretty sucky (a really good site to compare options is: http://getdrunknotfat.com/).
Personally, if I’m having more than a couple my go to drinks are tequila and diet lemonade, or vodka and diet coke. If I’m having a casual beer, then I’d rather sacrifice some Calories and have a quality Belgian beer though.
6. Don’t be a dumbass by rounding off your night with a pig out
When we drink alcohol our dietary restraint is inhibited, which means we’re far more likely to down a family bucket of chicken and triple our day’s Calorie intake. This is where you can do some major damage to your quest for abs as you can easily counteract a hard week of dieting with an early morning pig out.
I actually suggest you get any tempting foods out of your environment if possible. So if you know you’ll be out late drinking one night don’t leave a pack of cookies hanging around in the kitchen ready to be engulfed when you arrive back home.
Talking from experience, you might have to defend your post booze no nugget stance, however, if fat loss if your goal then, again, adult-up and accept that it may come with some nug-sized sacrifices.
- Alcohol puts a temporary stall to fat burning.
- It’s easy to drink lots of Calories from alcoholic drinks.
- Getting hammered clearly isn’t healthy, nor is it conducive to losing fat and getting abs.
- Accept that dieting comes with its sacrifices so don’t be a dumbass and go out getting hammered the whole time.
- If you do drink, compensate by lowering your Calorie intake from food accordingly.
- Choose lower Calorie drinks.
- Steer clear of the junk food when drinking and say no to the nugs ?