Does Beer Make You Fat and Ruin Your Gym Efforts?
The definitive guide on how to drink and still make gainz!
“Alcohol is good for only two things… Raising estrogen and having sex with ugly women (or men).”
I have made this inappropriate statement many times on social media, at trade shows and at elementary school events (I should really look into censoring myself sometimes). I constantly get asked about drinking alcohol and its effects on fat loss, fat gain and other bodily functions.
Related: Control Cortisol, Regulate Estrogen
Drinking is social, whether at a family gathering, wedding, or even a dormitory party with Wiz Khalifa playing and drunk millennials making out. But once we get back home from the wedding or wake up next to some random chick or dude post-dorm party, what have we done to our gainz?
If you are concerned about hindering fat loss, lowering testosterone, decreasing muscle protein synthesis, negatively effecting your performance the next day and potentially impregnating an ugly chick, keep reading. And note, I am NOT going to tell you to never drink alcohol…just how to do it to greatly decrease these negative effects!
Marc Lobliner shares his uncensored opinion on why alcohol does nothing for bodybuilders.
Calories in/ Calories Out
Firstly, alcohol has seven calories per gram. Calories from alcohol add up fast.
It’s a highly thermogenic nutrient, like protein, but I am also of the school of thought that the thermic effect of food (TEF) isn’t that significant in the grand scheme of things and we need to control calories. I have literally watched girls put down thousands of calories of sugary blended drinks (sugar + alcohol = Fat Gainz) and dudes throw down cases of beer to obtain the KRUNK.
One might say to drink hard liquor to get drunk and stave off some of those fat gain issues. While this is true, this also doesn’t taste as good, so that’s not even an option to this guy. If you’re going to get krunk enjoy it, just know it will lead to a hangover and some regression in your fitness program. But what happens when you drink for fat loss and how your body handles it?
Alcohol HALTS Other Nutrients From Being Burned
When alcohol is consumed, it does NOT convert to glucose, so your body burns the alcohol for energy first. This means that the macronutrients you have floating around from that all-you-can-eat pizza buffet is put “on-hold” in the burning process.
Hence, it stalls the burning of other nutrients. This can indeed hinder fat loss and combined with the added calories, it is a double whammy!
Alcohol Decreases Protein Synthesis
So you want to make gains? Alcohol can decrease glycogen resynthesis in the muscle and decrease inflammation post exercise.  This means recovery can be impaired in addition to the lack of fat loss.
The same mechanism that makes it possible to have sex with ugly chicks (or dudes) can also make you fat. The lack of inhibitions can lead to bad food choices, overeating and again, unwanted pregnancy or an STD. It all depends on how much and what type of alcohol is consumed. (Dr. Anna Kokavec, Pharmacology, Biochemistry & Behavior).
But regardless, you are more likely to eat at Denny’s at 3am and order the loaded nachos and Skillet Breakfast with dessert if you’re krunk.
Protect Your Balls
So the estrogen comment was somewhat inaccurate since alcohol doesn’t really significantly raise estrogen, but alcohol can decrease testosterone.
However, in a recent study testosterone and free testosterone were actually shown to be increased with a moderate consumption of alcohol. Thus we can speculate that if you trained with weights before drinking you’d be better off, but I am not going to recommend timing your partying around when your workout ends.
Overall Health Issues
Alcohol is extremely hepatoxic (toxic for the liver) and also strains the stomach and kidneys. Of course this depends on the frequency and amount of consumption, but the risk is there.
How to Deal with This in the REAL WORLD
Okay, so we hear the negatives, but we are in an alcohol society! What should we do? Here is my advice to you.
Balance is key: Do not forgo social activities, and that includes drinking, due to your physique goals. We build these bodies to have fun with them, so have fun! This is part of balance!
NOTE: If competing in the near future or training for a race, etc…YOU SHOULD NOT DRINK AT ALL! To get to extreme levels of performance, every little bit helps!
Don’t Worry, Be Happy: Don’t ruin your night drinking and hanging with friends worrying about the extra macros, loss of gains or beat yourself up the next day. Just get RIGHT BACK on your program the next day.
MODERATION! 1-3 Drinks is fine, you will be back to performing the next day with no hindrance on performance. But 10-12 drinks….you will do some serious damage to your physique and performance for at least two days afterwards. So please, practice restraint.
DON’T BINGE DRINK! This is not only terrible for your health, it might kill you and is not the best thing for brain cells.
Don’t Drive: Even if you drink only one drink (has to be said).
Drink Water: Drink a bottle of water after every alcoholic drink you consume before drinking another to avoid dehydration and also to prevent drinking too much.
Use a “Buddy System”: Before taking a girl back to your house to break off a little sumptin sumptin, ask a buddy if he would hit it. If he says no, move on. Beer goggles are real.
That’s it. Do not give up your life for gainz.
This is all about consistency and balance, and to last in this game as long as I have, compromises have to be made. This means you need to enjoy life beyond the gym.
So go ahead, take that pretty girl (or guy) out to dinner, have a glass of wine or a Guinness, take her (or him) back to your crib, mix up a cocktail and show off that body you worked hard to achieve.
And if counting, that was only two drinks and since it was a date, throw that ugly chick (or dude) comment out the window….and be sure to use protection. Because having a great body AND enjoying life at the same damn time….that’s not a game!
Barnes, Matthew J.published, Sports Medicine June, 2014)