There’s nothing worse than missing out on a wild night with your friends because you’re afraid that your muscles will fall off if you have a drink. We all want to get in shape. We all also want to have fun on the weekends. Everyone dreams of that picture where they’re looking good while topless at the beach with a drink in hand.
I want to talk about getting in shape without freaking out about having some fun. This is the ultimate guide to drinking and fitness that I had to write.
“Alcohol may be man’s worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy.” — Frank Sinatra
How boring would our 20s be without some alcohol? How lame would life be if you always stayed in and did the right thing?
Very boring. I couldn’t even imagine it. I don’t want to think about it.
I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that alcohol is good for you. It’s not. You already knew that though. I want to help with the damage control and so that you don’t stress out about a Friday night.
I’m going to show you how you can get jacked without ever missing out on a party!
“What happened last night?”
This has happened to every single person reading this. It’s the fun part of growing up (or just growing old).
Every great story starts off with, “I was so wasted, I can’t believe I did that…”
As much as I love the fitness world, I love to have drinks with friends. There’s nothing like a night out.
I had to write this article. If you’re new to fitness or a huge fan of working out, and want to see how drinking ties in, this is the piece you need to bookmark ASAP.
We’re going to look at the good news, the bad news, how to drink without getting fat, and all sorts of other fun stuff. Are you ready?
What’s my deal with drinking?
I enjoy it! I love being the life of the party. I enjoy my drinks. I enjoy to laugh and to joke around with friends (and strangers).
I do my best to do the following with alcohol:
- Drink vodka with water.
- Stay hydrated.
- Avoid Burger King/poutine/six large pizzas.
- Wake up and sweat the hangover out.
- Move on with my day.
- Not feel sorry for myself while the world passes me by the next day.
I’ve also become a more strategic drinker over the years. I try not to drink if the occasion doesn’t call for it. I also try not to make up random excuses to drink (bad day at work or I gained five new Twitter followers).
I always take no-alcohol challenges. I see how long I can go without a drink when I’m in hardcore-training. You should try the no-alcohol challenge at some point.
Let’s do some bad news and good news now.
What goes wrong when you drink?
“Because alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, the first drink or two can help loosen you up or relax. As the amount of alcohol in your blood increases, the effects become more and more pronounced.” — Steve Kamb of Nerd Fitness
If you enjoy a few drinks with friends and then go home to sleep you’ll be fine. As you already know, all plans change once the tequila kicks in.
You make a fool out of yourself if you have one too many.
Falling over while trying to court that young lady isn’t so charming. You might feel the liquid courage kicking it, but trust me buddy, she knows you’re wasted, and she’s not impressed.
You also might end up on Facebook bothering people, insulting your friends, or just doing something stupid.
I speak from experience on this. Drunk texting is not a good idea.
On a physical note…
You miss your workout the next day if you’re really hungover. You feel lazy the next day. You might even end up puking all night.
It’s also easy to get a beer belly if you don’t limit the amount of beer you drink or if you don’t amp up the exercise.
You load up on Burger King or pizza at 4 in the morning. I’ve done this way too many times, so I’m speaking from personal experience. There are no benefits to this. An epic cheat day is cool. Eating like a slob a few times a week will make you a bulbous manatee. Nobody has time to be fat!
There’s nothing good for your diet about chugging 10 beers. It will not benefit you in any way.
[Must read: Add play to your life and never feel miserable again.]
What about the science?
According to this article over at Bodybulding.com:
“Alcohol significantly interferes with restful sleep. It can make falling to sleep easier to begin with due to its sedative effects but the quality of sleep (particularly rapid eye movement) will be disturbed.”
That sucks. We already looked at the importance of sleep. You need your rest. Alcohol kills this. You’re going to be exhausted and pretty much useless the next day. As a conquering brute you don’t want to be out of commission like a little baby for a day or two. That’s pathetic.
According to Drink Aware:
“Alcohol dehydrates your body generally, including the skin – your body’s largest organ. This happens every time you drink. Drinking too much is also thought to deprive the skin of vital vitamins and nutrients. Over time, drinking heavily can have other, more permanent, detrimental effects on your skin.”
Being dehydrated sucks. Your body is pretty useless when dehydrated. You don’t feel like doing anything. Once again, who wants to spend a whole day doing nothing? Not me.
At the end of the day, too often do we drink out of boredom. It ends up hurting our bodies and our minds.
You know the deal with drunk people. One poor timed glance, walking into the wrong person, saying something slightly offensive can turn into a full-out brawl. You also spend way too much money foolishly.
I’m all for a birthday, milestone, or any occasion worth celebrating. I also LOVE getting together with friends. What I don’t like is legal trouble.
With that being said…
What are the positives of drinking?
“I know a lot of peeps who’d rather stay home and manage their diet than go out and have a few drinks. Sad, really, because it’s all for the wrong reasons. I don’t blame them though. Read the mags or listen to the experts and you’ll soon be believing that a few drinks will make your muscles fall off, make you impotent, and leave you with a big gut. It’s mostly bullshit, of course.” — Martin Berkhan of Lean Gains
Let’s not get depressed about chugging a cold one on a Friday night or getting wild during the holidays.
According to Medical News Today, some of the benefits of moderate wine consumption include:
- Reduces risk of depression.
- Prevents colon cancer.
- Prevent dementia.
- Protects from severe sunburn.
- Improves lung function.
Pass me a glass of wine or four.
Lean Gains also highlights another key point:
“Moderate alcohol consumption is associated with an abundance of health benefits. The long-term effect on insulin sensitivity and body weight (via insulin or decreased appetite) may be of particular interest to us.”
The social part of drinking.
Hanging out with friends is awesome! Who doesn’t enjoy being social? Drinking allows us to calm down a bit, laugh, and just have a great time.
Your network is your net worth. You don’t want to miss out on precious moments with your amazing friends because you were afraid of drinking a beer.
You can let loose.
You can drop your guard after a few drinks and crack jokes. There’s no sense in always being so serious. Why not let loose sometimes? Chug some beers and make fun of your friends! Tell John that he’s looking fat.
Something to look forward to.
We need something to look forward to. Training hard and eating well is awesome. Sometimes we just need to add something in there to make life interesting. We need a night out or a case of beer to look forward to.
I don’t know about you, but I look forward to nights out with friends!
Why does alcohol make you fat?
This is an interesting question.
Andy Morgan of Ripped Body says it best:
“Alcohol calories are empty calories. They can’t help you recover or build muscle, but they can fuel you for moving around etc. Alcohol calories will still count to the weekly overall calorie balance and thus will help determine whether you lose or gain weight.”
Greg O’Gallagher wrote in his Kinobody guide to alcohol:
“If you’re planning on slamming back eight beers over the course of the night, that’s 1200 calories that you need to make room for.”
So in summary, alcohol makes you fat for three key reasons:
- Lack of rest.
- It has calories.
- You make poor choices when it comes to food.
You have to factor in that your sleep gets all screwed up. You could be up until 6 with, um, your new friend or just chatting with old friends or doing absolutely nothing.
You also make poor decisions. You get drunk and lose track of what food is good for you. You think that a large pizza to yourself is a wise decision. One of the most popular poutine shops is directly across the street from my condo and there’s always a huge line up on the weekends.
How do you avoid getting fat when drinking?
I found an amazing calculator to help you see how much you drank last night.
Here are some calculations:
- 6 Coronas = 834 calories.
- 6 vodka shots with some fruit juice = 672 calories.
That’s why some folks have a horrible beer gut. I don’t want to see you with one.
With that being said, chugging lots of beers, being inactive, and loading up on junk food will make you fat.
Filed under the department of : DUH!
How do you avoid getting fat?
Stick to shots. If you’re going to drink beers, then account for those calories. Fast the day before or the next day. Put in an extra session at the gym.
How can I get wasted while trying to get jacked?
You have to be realistic here. You won’t look like a model if you chug 12 beers every single night unless you have amazing genetics or spend all day in the gym.
The best process that works for me when it comes to drinking and trying to stay in shape is:
- Do everything right all week.
- Drink on a rest day so that you’re not super hungry.
- Eat lots of protein.
- Limit carbs to veggies.
- Avoid sugary drinks.
- Avoid fast food.
- Consider fasting before or after drinking for 24 hours (or both).
This is where I plug my intermittent fasting guide again.
What do you do before you drink?
This is the most important question.
- Don’t mix booze.
- Chug lots of water during the evening.
- Get some food in your system.
I’m hungover! What do I do now?
This is the worst feeling in the world! I absolutely hate waking up hungover. I wish I could give you some magic cure. I have a decade of experience here. My only way of dealing with a hangover is to prevent it by drinking lots of water the night before, not mixing, and getting some food in my system.
First of all, do not take Tylenol (acetaminophen). Why? According to Ask Men:
“The reason is that when your liver is busy metabolizing alcohol, it processes the painkiller differently than it otherwise would, resulting in toxic compounds that can cause liver inflammation and even permanent damage.”
I’ll take their word for it. No Tylenol for me.
What should you take? Ibuprofen.
Second of all, it’s too late now. All I can do now is throw out some ideas that have worked out for me in the past when waking up hungover.
- Go for a jog or lift. Sweat it up. Won’t be easy, but worth it. Start moving and sweating.
- Chug lots of water. You’re dehydrated!
- Eat greasy food.
- Force yourself to puke (really sucks).
- Suck it up.
You just have to wait it out sometimes. The best cure is time. And maybe some reruns of Sons of Anarchy.
A few more resources to check out:
If you want to read more I highlighted two resources that can really help you out!
The Alcohol Guide @ Ripped Body.
The Truth About Alcohol, Fat Loss and Muscle Growth @ Lean Gains.
As you can tell, I’m not here to judge you. It’s okay to break the fitness rules. Just be smart about it. You know that there’s no benefit of drinking 12 beers and then eating $50 worth of Burger King only to spend the next day in bed.
I don’t you to miss a party nor do I want you to get fat because you partied too much.
“Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” — Ernest Hemingway