Alcohol & Dieting

When trying to improve fitness and health, one of the biggest questions is whether or not you can have drinks while dieting. Many diets restrict or even prohibit alcohol consumption, but when trying to make fitness a lifestyle, balance is key, and research suggests that gym junkies do it best. One study showed that fitness enthusiasts tend to drink more than the average individual, with physical activity and heavy drinking having a positive correlation. Another study  showed that it’s on the days that people are more active, that they are more likely to indulge. So, can you really drink and still stay shredded?

No matter how you frame it, alcohol isn’t good for you. Not all calories are created equal and alcohol definitely isn’t a protein shake, but that doesn’t mean you have to cut it out completely to make progress. And good news, a new study suggests that exercising the recommended amount “cancels out” the higher risk of cancer death that often accompanies alcohol consumption. 

Still, keeping on top of your health despite your drinking habits will help you in the long run. One of the biggest problems gym junkies must keep in mind is dehydration. Working out and drinking are two of the biggest dehydrators, especially when done in close proximity. Alcohol delays rehydration, making muscles recover at a slower rate. This can impact performance and overall gains. Drinking your daily gallon will help detox and rehydrate your body.

Additionally, for most individuals trying to cut or drop unwanted weight, cutting alcohol can be a key component hindering a caloric deficit. Most drinks tend to be packed with calories that can add up quickly. One shot of liquor or one light beer averages about 100 calories. Having multiple drinks can add a lot of calories without being conscious of it, often pulling you out of caloric deficit. If you’re determined to have a good time while still making progress, fitting your weekend drinks into your macros is a great way to stay on track. If you find yourself plateauing, a dry week or month can reset your body and give you a chance to observe the effects alcohol has on your individual body.

With all that being said, you don’t have to swear off drinking to reach your goals. There are plenty of sugar-free mixers, low carb drinks, and “skinny” cocktails that will save you a lot of calories (and probably headaches too). As with everything, moderation is key.