Alcohol isn’t a recovery drink. But you already knew that.
So how does it fit into your overall plan?
Well, it depends on your goals and how often you drink.
Some studies have shown that moderate drinkers (one to two drinks per day) have fewer heart attacks and strokes than abstainers or heavy drinkers. Moderate drinkers are also less likely to suffer diabetes, arthritis, and dementia.
All good things, of course. (Though the jury is still out as to whether those benefits are related to alcohol or other lifestyle factors not accounted for.)
So let’s say alcohol-n-moderation-is good for your “health.”
What about your physique and performance?
What happens when you drink?
When you consume alcohol, your body treats it much like a high carbohydrate diet. In other words, your insulin levels spike, and your body has to first burn the alcohol for energy instead of any dormant fat stores.
If you need to lose some fat – or if you’re trying to make weight for a fight -drinking alcohol can make it more challenging to do so.
It’s also been shown that alcohol decreases the use of glucose and amino acids in your skeletal muscles, which can adversely affect muscle growth.
Your sex life
Alcohol is a depressant, which means it will curb your anxiety and tension. However, it can also kill your libido by lowering your testosterone levels.
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. Since your strength and power relies on having a high functioning nervous system, alcohol can decrease your performance.
It’s not all bad
With all that information, it may seem as though we’re totally against consuming alcohol. We’re not we enjoy a nice beer or glass of wine as much as the next person. What we frown upon is the overconsumption of alcohol or drinking too much when your physique or performance goals can be put at stake.
How to make it work for you – a general rule
If you don’t already consume alcohol, you have no reason to start now.
But if you do enjoy an occasional drink, try to keep it to roughly five drinks per week. (it’s better if you don’t have all five in one night, either. Space them out and enjoy some wine with dinner or a beer with friends on the weekend.)
What constitutes a ‘drink’?
Here are my thoughts on drinking in one sentence…
Do the best you can, be smart, and have some fun.
We all know, drinking isn’t healthy for you… but neither is staying up too late, spending too much time on a computer, not spending enough time in the sunlight, spending too much time in the sunshine, playing video games for too long, etc.
We still do all these things, either because we have to or because we want to.
The reason for this blog isn’t to make you into the perfect model human being (which is impossible), but instead removing any barriers you have toward living a healthy lifestyle while still letting you live the life you want.
Your exercise and diet can become part of what you are, but not at the expense of who you are.
I believe drinking can be done occasionally, in moderation, and a desirable healthy lifestyle can still be achieved.
If you decide that you want to drink, go for it.
If you decide that you don’t want to drink, that’s fine too.
I won’t make you do anything you don’t want to do, and vice versa. You know yourself best; you know what you can handle and what you can’t; you know what your goals are and how your body reacts to certain things. Be smart.
So, rather than tell you to give up drinking, let’s find a way to fit in into your schedule so that it allows you to be happy WITHOUT derailing your efforts toward weight loss, muscle gain, and healthier life.
Now, my advice does change, depending on your goals.
If your goal is an elite performance, rapid weight loss, or rapid muscle gain: stop drinking as much as possible. If you need to lose a lot of weight very quickly (maybe you have a wedding coming up, at work, or a holiday and you want to get a slim as possible), cut out the drinking completely. It messes with your sleep and your hormones, two crucial aspects of weight loss and muscle building.
If you feel you can’t do that and still want to drink, then relook at your goals. Don’t expect elite results. It’s that simple!
If your goal is to be fitter and healthier, be your project. Test things out. If you want a beer, have a beer. Or you have a glass of wine with dinner do so.
As long as you are feeling better and looking better, keep doing what you’re doing. If you are plateauing, consider not drinking for a while and see if it makes a difference.
If you know one or two usually turns into six or seven: it’s best if you stay away from drinking, especially if there’s any alcohol abuse in your family.
You can also volunteer to be the designated driver, provided you take that responsibility of safely getting your friends home safe VERY SERIOUSLY.
You have to stop after one or two drinks for the night to keep everybody safe, and it takes the pressure off of you to make that decision to drink more.