You eat well all week. Make good decisions, get your workouts in and get plenty of sleep. Then the weekend hits. You stay up a little later, let food choices slip and add alcohol to the mix. Sound familiar?
For many people, health and body composition is an important part of the puzzle, but so is being social and spending time with friends.
While I am not here to tell you never to drink alcohol again, here are some things to consider:
1) Alcohol is a toxin. Your body prioritizes toxins when digesting. If alcohol is present your body prioritizes metabolizing alcohol before any protein, carb or fat present. Your body also prioritizes eliminating toxins from alcohol before eliminating normal body toxins.
2) Alcohol messes with your hormones. It raises estrogen levels and lowers testosterone, which can negatively impact your body's ability to build muscle. If you are working hard in the gym and not seeing results, consistent alcohol intake may be the cause.
3) Alcohol slows down metabolism and can mess with your digestive processes. Alcohol kills off good gut micro biota, thus making it more susceptible to things like leaky gut syndrome and other illnesses.
4) Alcohol messes with the scale. If you care about what you weigh, or you track weight consistently, you will definitely notice weight fluctuations resulting from a night of drinking. You may notice you are down a few pounds (due to dehydration) or you may notice you are up a few pounds, if you are a large pizza with your beer.
5) Alcohol messes with sleep. Alcohol disrupts your circadian functioning as it is a melatonin suppressant, so while it may help you fall asleep, you definitely won't stay asleep, or sleep well.
So is it possible to reach our goals, stay healthy and have a drink with friends every once in a while?
Yes, but considering these things will be key.
1) Limit alcohol intake. This should be frequency of drinking as well as number of drinks consumed. Try to keep drinking to 1-2 times per week max and keep to 3 or less drinks each time. Understand that less is better here and even these small amounts will effect your fat loss or strength goals.
2) Hydrate before (and while) you drink. Alcohol dehydrates you, be sure to drink lots of water ahead of time and even mix in some water between drinks to keep dehydration at bay.
3) Exercise before you drink. Get a good workout in before you head out.
4) Keep meals top notch. Before you drink be sure to keep carbohydrates and sugar intake low. Load up on lots of protein and good fats.