How To Lose Weight Without Giving Up Alcohol
What if I told you that you could drink alcohol and still lose body fat and even get superhero six-pack abs?
Would you believe me or call me a liar?
If you’re like most, you expect me to say that you cannot drink alcohol and still cut body fat or even have abs… but I’m not going to do that.
You might not believe it, but I like to consider myself an oenophile of sorts. And I consider Napa Valley my “happy place” where all my worries and problems seem to disappear.
I also consider it the most beautiful place on earth. In other words, I like wine – a lot… especially a big and bold red Zinfandel blend like Paraduxx. And if you go to Paraduxx in Napa, ask for Tressa – she’s the best.
“Eat, drink and be merry, ’cause tomorrow we’ll die.”
– Dave Matthews
Let’s be real, people love their alcohol… especially in California where boozy brunches on Sunday morning are all the rage and the mimosas flows like cheap beer at a Dave Matthews concert.
Estimating, I’d say 98% of my client’s drink – even many of the one’s that are ripped like Wolverine and rock six-pack abs. I’m here to tell you and show you how you can maintain a healthy social life, drink alcohol, and still shred body fat and even get your six-pack abs.
Wine is nothing short of a gift from the gods and is one of things that makes life worth living – at least it makes my life worth living. And not being able to drink it regularly would be epidemically awful.
Alcohol & Fat Loss
Alcohol is the cause of and answer to all of life’s problems. Alcohol can be fun, it can be social, and it can create some incredible memories… or lack of em’ in the case of a really fun night.
Alcohol itself isn’t a terrible thing and doesn’t directly cause weight gain. It’s the decisions people make when drinking that compound the problem and get them into trouble.
How many times has a night of drinking led to a pizza binge or an In-n-Out run? Once this happens, you’re fucked. Proper fucked.
The reason: alcohol is the first thing to be burned as fuel once ingested and it makes the liver work overtime. Once alcohol is in your system… your body immediately stops oxidizing fat, carbs, and protein and instead burns the alcohol.
Let me repeat, once you ingest alcohol… your body immediately stops oxidizing fat, carbs, and protein. Freshman fifteen anyone?
If you think of your body like a fat-burning furnace kind of like I do…
Drinking alcohol is like pouring a few gallons of liquid nitrogen into your fat burning furnace. At -320 degrees Fahrenheit, the liquid nitrogen will turn your fat burning furnace into an iceberg. And your body’s ability to burn fat will cease to exist.
Ever seen Terminator 2 when Arnold freezes the T-1000 with liquid nitrogen? Yeah, it’s kind of like that…
How To Eat When Drinking
Armed with this information, we can now make some better decisions and prevent excessive fat gain when drinking.
If we know that our body stops oxidizing fats, carbs, and proteins when drinking alcohol… let’s examine how the body processes these different macros and come up with a strategy:
Protein is Numero Uno
Out of the three macros, protein takes the most energy to process and is the hardest to convert to body fat. Research backs this up and indicates that high protein diets work best for fat loss and for preserving muscle when cutting. Duh!
Knowing this, it should be obvious that eating lean protein when drinking alcohol is the best thing you can do to prevent fat storage.
Notice I said *lean* protein…
A ribeye steak with grass fed butter although normally awesome… is not “lean” and is not allowed if you are doing some heavy drinking and trying to lose weight or reduce body fat.
Carbs Aren’t as Bad as You Think
When it comes to getting superhero shredded and cutting body fat, carbs are usually the first to go. In fact, most of the diet plans I create for client trying to lose weight are considered low-carb.
That all goes out the window when drinking alcohol. In fact, when it comes to drinking alcohol carbs aren’t your #1 enemy.
Out of the 3 macronutrients, carbohydrates take the 2nd most energy to process. Although not as good as protein, when drinking alcohol carbohydrates are still not as likely to be stored as body fat as dietary fats.
Although, this doesn’t give carbs a complete pass. Finishing 2nd out of a field of 3 still isn’t awesome, but it does make it clear that the loser in this race is dietary fat.
Your #1 Enemy Is Dietary Fats
Normally, eating plenty of dietary fat is fantastic for fat loss. But once we ingest alcohol all bets are off and dietary fats become our #1 enemy.
Out of the 3 macronutrients, dietary fats are the absolute easiest to convert to body fat. With the body taking care of the alcohol… any consumption of dietary fat is now going directly to your ass in the form of body fat. No Bueno.
This is the exact reason why those late night fast-food runs are so terrible for your body when you’re drunk. Fast food tends to be low in protein, high in fat, and high in carbohydrates. For example, here is the nutrition information for 3 popular late night meals:
Notice, protein is last in overall percentage of calories in all 3 examples. For In-n-Out and McDonald’s carbs are 2nd and fat makes up the largest percentage of the meal. This is exactly what you don’t want.
The cheese pizza is actually the best of the 3 terrible options because carbs make up the largest percentage of the meal and fat is 2nd.
Best Options For Late Night Drunk Food
You’re not going to like this, but it’s best to actually eat BEFORE drinking and skip late night eating. Your abs will thank you. However, if you must eat here are a few tips:
Keep dietary fat as low as possible
The closer dietary fat can be to zero the better. To achieve this focus on lean protein sources like chicken, lean ground beef, turkey, etc.
Avoid oils, fat-laden sauces like mayonnaise, cheese, and carb sources that contain fat like French Fries or other fried foods. This is your #1 priority when eating if you’ve been drinking heavily.
Eat lean protein
If you are consuming a lean protein, feel free to have as much as you want. Avoid fatty protein sources like salmon, beef, steak, fried chicken, etc.
Avoid “white” carbs
This includes bread, rice, potatoes, etc.
If possible, choose vegetables or slow carb options like beans or lentils to compliment your lean protein sources. In terms of priority… avoiding “white” carbs comes in 2nd place behind avoiding dietary fats.
Here are a few more six-pack friendly options for your late night meals:
Notice, with these 2 options protein makes up a considerable portion of the total calories. Even better, fat is lowest percentage of all 3 macros. The meal from McDonald’s is actually the best in this example because fat makes up only 16% of the total calories.
The absolute best option would be to not eat at all or have a low-carb protein shake… but not everybody is that hardcore. If you must eat, follow the tips above and you’ll be sure to be superhero shredded in no time.
What To Avoid & What To Drink
Here are some tips about what to avoid and what to drink to ensure you continue to lose body fat when drinking alcohol:
Avoid sugary drinks
No secret here. These will wreak havoc on your stomach, spike your insulin faster than you can say “weight gain”, and add a TON of unnecessary carbohydrates to your daily macros.
Anything that’s very sweet like a Margarita, White Russian, Mudslide, or Mai Tai. Also, anything mixed with regular soda will fall into this category like a Bacardi and Coke. Sorry bro, that’s a no-go. Switch to diet.
Like any guy, I like a good beer now and again. I certainly drank my fair share at Dave Matthews concerts… but this is one of the worst alcoholic drinks you can have if you’re trying to get lean and lose body fat.
If you’re only going to have 1 or 2, then be my guest. I recommend trying a Goose Island 312, it’s my favorite beer. If you’re going to have a lot more than two, you better skip the beer and switch to something else.
Most beer is carb heavy and going to add a ton of excess calories (especially carbs) to your daily macros. Worse, you have to drink a lot more beer to get drunk due to the low alcohol content. This means even more calories and even more carbs.
Wine is one of the healthiest things you can drink. And red is better than white because it tends to be lower in sugar and has more antioxidants. My favorite varietal is red zinfandel from California. Paraduxx is a fantastic label if you’re looking. Duckhorn is another good one. Go with Decoy on a budget 😀
The best option here is to drink liquor straight, on the rocks, or mixed with non-sugary mixers. Some options are diet soda or sparkling water. I like bourbon or tequila in case you’re buying.
The Healthiest Drink Of All Time
Paleo author Robb Wolf came up with what many people consider the “healthiest” drink you can consume to get your night lit AF.
It’s called the NorCal Margarita. It’s considered so incredibly healthy because it doesn’t have any nasty internal side effects like spiking your insulin levels, promoting fat storage, or dehydrating the heck out of you.
Here’s the recipe:
- Pour 2 shots (3 ounces) of 100% agave tequila.
- Add juice + pulp from 1 lime.
- Add ice and shake.
- Fill glass with soda water.
- Garnish with salt, if desired.
It’s considered so “healthy” for the following reasons:
- Blunts insulin response. Adding citrus blunts the insulin response of alcohol, which is why lime is used.
- Gluten and starch free. The Tequila being used is from agave and is gluten and starch free. Another option is grape vodka.
- Get drunk quicker. The carbonation of the club soda delivers ethanol to your blood quicker. You can drink less and get the same buzz.
I’m no stranger to the NorCal Margarita but lately, I prefer red wine or whiskey at this stage of my life. I was more a NorCal Margarita guy in my 20’s. I guess my taste buds have matured.
The No Hangover & No Weight Gain Drinking Plan
I’ve talked about what to do when you’re drinking or already drunk, but what should you do if you know you’ll be drinking later that day?
Follow these steps to avoid gaining body fat, a hangover, or any other negative consequences from drinking alcohol:
Keep dietary fat intake low
I mentioned this already, but if you know you’ll be drinking later that day it’s critical to keeps fats low all day.
Aim for 0.3g per pound of body weight on a day you’ll be drinking more than 2 drinks.
For example, to calculate my numbers: 190 x 0.3 = 58.5. That means I’ll keep my fat intake at or below 58g for the day on any day I’m going to consume more than 2 drinks.
Eat 80% of your normal calories
Aim to eat about 80% of your normal calories for the day to make room for all the calories from alcohol. But make sure you consume enough food you don’t get sorority girl sloppy drunk. Unless you’re a sorority girl and want to get sloppy drunk… then, by all means.
If your goal is 2,500 daily calories then consume 2,000 and try to intake the majority, if not all, of those calories before drinking. This isn’t possible if you’re day drinking. But either way, keep the dietary fat low and makeup for the calories with extra protein.
Drink enough water
The majority of the problems from drinking are the result of dehydration. Make sure to drink enough water and hydrate properly during the day BEFORE drinking.
Sprinkle some salt in your water during the day to ensure you’re retaining water. This will be imperative to avoid a hangover, but it will also help prevent you from getting too wasted too fast.
When drinking, aim to drink roughly one, 8-ounce glass of water for every two drinks consumed. This will ensure you hydrate enough, but not too much that you dilute the alcohol completely otherwise – what’s the point?
I got this one from Tim Ferriss and he got it from this study, but in my own experimentation – shit works. Consuming l-lysine will allow you to get buzzed up pretty good, but prevents you from getting completely shit-faced.
It also helps prevent hangovers. This is ideal if you’ll be at a wedding or event where there will be a LOT of drinking and you want to have fun… but you also don’t want to get so wasted you can’t function and end up looking like an ass clown.
In my experience it takes 3 to 4g to be effective…
For men, I recommend 1 to 2g of l-lysine a few hours before your first drink. Take another 1g with your first drink and another 1g at the halfway point of the night. For women, I’d try cutting those doses in half as a test. Adjust as necessary.
Have some freakin’ fun
Alcohol should be enjoyed responsibly and drinking should be a fun experience. Follow the tips above, and you won’t have to freak out about your diet when having a 3rd or 4th glass of wine.
Moderation is king…
Keep it to 1 night per week if drinking more heavily or 1 drink per night if drinking more frequently. I typically have 2 glasses of red wine on both Friday and Saturday night for a total of 4-drinks per week. Although, that can vary depending on events, travel, vacation, etc. This approach has allowed me to drink socially and have fun while maintaining my Hollywood celebrity superhero physique.
Don’t go overboard…
If you’re getting smashed 2 – 3 times per week or drinking 2+ drinks per night… you can forget about getting aboard the Lean Gainz Train because you’ll already be on Fat Ass Train with a transfer to the Alcoholic Train coming up soon. This type of alcohol intake will be hard to overcome if you want to lose weight and reduce your body fat.
Tips For Your Success
- Impossible to drink alcohol AND burn fat. As soon as you start consuming alcohol, it becomes the primary source of fuel for your body. Your body will halt the oxidization of fat, carbs, and protein.
- Protein is numero uno. When eating while drinking or after a drinking binge, focus on eating lean protein. It’s the most difficult of the 3 macronutrients to convert to body fat.
- Avoid fat at all costs. Dietary fat is your sworn mortal enemy if you’ve been drinking or will be drinking heavily later in the day. When drinking alcohol, keep dietary fat to 0.3g per pound of body weight or less.
- Moderation is king. Drinking excessively is going to lead to fat gain or a serious alcohol problem. Keep it to one night per week if drinking heavily or simply have 1 – 2 drinks max if drinking more frequently.
Action Items For Your Success
- Plan ahead. Identify the days or nights each week you’re planning on drinking. The more drinks you plan to have the more important a plan becomes to prevent fat gain.
- Track your macros or portions. If you will be drinking heavily be sure to track your macros or portions that day. Reduce fat intake to 0.3g per pound of body weight or less. Make up for the lost calories with lean protein and only consume 80% of your normal calories.
- Avoid beer and sugary drinks. Instead, opt for wine or liquor. Red wine is better than white and 100% agave tequila is the healthiest liquor option. Mix with soda water or diet soda to avoid unnecessary sugar intake. See NorCal Margarita for more information.
- Prevent hangovers. Eating 80% of your food for the day BEFORE you drink will help prevent getting too wasted. Drink at least one, 8-ounce glass of water for every 2 drinks to stay adequately hydrated. Sprinkling salt in the water helps your body retain water. Consuming l-lysine as a safety net to help avoid getting too wasted.
- Eat high protein and low fat. Post inebriation be sure to avoid dietary fat at all costs. Typical late night fast food tends to be low in protein, high in carbs, and high in fat. Instead, opt for high protein, moderate carb, and low fat.
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