Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Football Saturdays & Alcohol

My alcohol consumption has decreased significantly during the past 2 years. In fact, I limit myself to a glass of red wine or Crown Royal on the rocks on occasion. Why, you ask? Alcohol represents calories -- empty calories, at best. But sometimes you've just 'gotta live' without worrying about its consequences on your fitness goals and progress. So, will alcohol impede your progress and sabotage your fat loss goals?

Before we answer that question...

I thought this would be a good time to broach the subject. After all, it's smack-dab in the middle of college football season and every week brings monster rivalry games (non-U.S. residents think Real Madrid vs. Barcelona or Arsenal vs. Manchester United). Alcohol sales increase dramatically in college towns across the U.S. every fall. There's just something about mixing football and the adult beverage of your choice. If there is one time I do partake in the occasional beverage or two, this weekend would be one of those times.

Florida vs. LSU. #1 vs #4. A battle of the last 3 BCS National Champions. Tiger Stadium is known for its classic night games due to noise levels reaching rock concert and jet engine decibel levels.  The noise caused an earthquake in 1988. Alcohol adds to that mayhem. Anyone familiar with South Louisiana culture will know that alcohol is a centerpiece of its existence. Why? That's just the way it is.  But I digress.

Will alcohol impede your progress and sabotage your fat loss goals?  The answer is simple.  Yes.

And No.

Let's look at what alcohol does when it's ingested.  Many wrongly think that alcohol turns to sugar; it does not.  Alcohol cannot be stored in the body.  The body isn't quite sure what to do with alcohol so it becomes your body's immediate preference of energy.

Yes: If you overindulge, you will not only become intoxicated and lack prudent decision-making skills, but you'll ingest a sizeable amount of calories in a short period of time.  We've talked about calories before; if you eat (or drink) more than you burn, then you'll gain weight and impede your weight loss goals.  It's also dependent on what alcohol you choose to drink.  With that said, in most cases it's not the alcohol that's the problem, it's all the crap that you eat when you drink alcohol.  Even a six-pack of beer won't kill your progress, but mix that with chips & dip, french fries, a hamburger, some jambalaya and a bowl of gumbo and you've just packed on a couple days worth of calories.  Not to mention, that while your body is preferentially using alcohol for energy it's storing all that food for a later date -- as fat.

No: So alcohol, in moderation, in-and-of itself is not going to impede your progress toward better fitness and ridding your body of fat.  But choose wisely and don't overindulge.  Don't sacrifice some fun with friends with over-analysis and psychotic, obsessive behvior that will drive you and your friends crazy, just participate in moderation.  I'll follow that statement with a word of caution: If you are cutting calories and working toward a specific low body fat level, then skip the alcohol; it's probably not worth it.  But since most of us are cutting in the spring and summer, go ahead and enjoy a beverage or two.

Summing it up: Alchohol, in moderation, will not sabotage your fitness goals.  In fact, alcohol in moderation has been shown to be beneficial.  Overindulgence of alcohol, not only is unwise, but will sabotage your fitness goals.

One final note.  If you are planning to have an 'alchohol' day or night, plan ahead.  'Reserve' some calories for your adult beverages.  If you happen to accompany your endeavor with unplanned food that is less than ideal for reaching pre-established fat loss goals, then try an intermittent fasting day.  Better yet, plan on an IF day after a day of football, food, & fun...and alcohol.

Until next time...


  1. Man, I can't wait until this baby is born so that I can enjoy my occasional glass of red wine. THanks for the permission!

  2. HIIT Mama: I don't blame you. When are you due?

  3. I am due just after christmas. Hopefully a little new year celebration will be in order.