The difference between this: and this: May be what you are drinking! Okay, so most of us have been know to throw back a few beers, have a little wine with dinner or celebrate with some shots. We are all human, and it’s fun to party and socialize with a couple of drinks (I’m guilty as most of you all know). But unfortunately, there’s a price to pay, and that’s not including the headache the next morning. The purpose behind writing this blog entry isn’t to preach and tell you to stop drinking all together, but rather give you some knowledge and insight. If you are trying to lean out, build muscle or lose weight, minimizing your alcohol consumption is key. So how can alcohol contribute to weight gain? When you consume an alcoholic beverage, alcohol is split into two compounds, fat and acetate. The fat is stored, and the acetate is taken into the bloodstream and is your primary source of fuel. What this means, is that rather than burning carbohydrates, proteins or fats, your body is using the acetate from the alcohol as energy. That hamburger you just had with your beer, is basically just put on hold to digest, until the acetate is burned off. So you have this surplus of carbs, protein, and fat circulating in the body with nowhere to go. So where does it all end up? You guessed it…it’s converted to fat and deposited on your pretty little waistline. It takes about one hour for your body to metabolize .5 oz to 1 oz of alcohol. So if you have 5 beers in one sitting, that means your body’s digestive system will be put on hold for 5 hours, until the acetate has been metabolized. What makes this even worse is if you are snacking while drinking… Which usually goes hand in hand right? Pretzels and beer, wine and cheese, nachos and margaritas. All that food is just sitting there, not moving… waiting next inline to be used for fuel. Theres more unfortunately. Man, I sound like a real party pooper don’t I? Alcohol is high in calorie content. Carbohydrates and proteins, have 4 calories per gram, and fat contains 9 calories per gram. Alcohol, which has no nutritional value, contains 7 calories per gram. A glass of wine has about the same amount of alcohol and calories as a 12 ounce light beer or a shot of 80 proof liquor. A regular, non-light beer, is even higher in calories, since it contains over twice as many carbohydrates as light beer. So, let’s say you relax with a nice big glass of red wine every day, that’s about 110 calories a day, about an extra 1000 calories per week, which turns into a lovely 12 pounds of fat per year!!! Below is a chart of the lowest calorie alcoholic beverages, to reference the next time you hit the bar. Sorry guys, once again there’s more. Not only does that hangover slow you down and keep you from getting off the couch, but just a single binge of heavy drinking will vastly increase the levels of the hormone cortisol, and significantly decrease the level of the hormone testosterone. So what does this have to do with your training? Cortisol causes the body to breakdown muscle and suppresses recovery from exercise, while low testosterone makes the body less likely build lean muscle or to burn fat as a fuel. So if you don’t like the cute, bulging beer belly, with skinny little arms, legs and butt… think again before you slam those tequila shots! So any tips when it comes to alcohol consumption and weight loss? Well, obviously we are not all saints, and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying life and having fun. I don’t expect you to cut alcohol completely from your diet, but if you are serious about leaning out and losing weight, keep it to a minimum. My advice is moderation. Moderation is key. Instead of having a few drinks every day after work, keep it to the weekends. Don’t mix your liquor with soda pop, juice or any other sugary beverage. Mix liquor with soda water, a non-calorie beverage or drink it straight up or over ice. Try to drink light beer instead of regular beer. Indulge on top shelf liquor or a really nice wine, and sip it slowly, savoring it. I’m a pretty social person, so it’s tough for me not to want to go out all the time, socialize and relax with a cocktail on a sunny afternoon. For me personally, I have to chose 1 or 2 days out of the week, and designate those days, as my “party” nights… the rest of the week I stay in, or stay away from alcohol. Sometimes it’s hard to say no, but it’s worth it when I wake up in the morning feeling great, look down at my tummy and breath a sigh of relief that I still have a waistline. So now that I have you all excited about the weekend! Cheers and Good luck!