Alcohol: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
Alcohol is to body composition as kryptonite is to Superman.
Alcohol lowers growth hormone production and decreases testosterone while increasing estrogen.
A common question we routinely receive is if there is a way to still drink alcohol without sabotaging the goal set. You may be glad to find out there is.
Moderation and understanding alcohol selection with the good, the bad and the ugly is important in preventing a broken fitness goal.
Alcohol gets a pretty bad rap, especially in the eyes of any health expert. This is because it cannot be used for energy in the same way as other macronutrients (protein, carbs and fats.)
Alcohol is actually a macronutrient in its own right. It contains 7 calories per gram, as opposed to the 4 calories per gram in protein and carbohydrate and the 9 calories per gram in fat. Protein, fat and carbs serve a purpose to the body while alcohol does not. Protein is used for repair and cell growth. Fat is used for hormone production. Carbs are used for energy and replenishing glycogen stores. Alcohol does not offer anything so useful to the body.
The “good” alcohol is wine.
The best beverage option when at an event or out with some friends is red wine.
A small glass or two of wine has been shown to turn on the same fat loss genes as intermittent fasting. Wine is loaded with healthy antioxidants such as resveratrol. This antioxidant has been shown to raise metabolism, increase energy, suppress appetite, stabilize blood sugar, accelerate the breakdown of fat stores, improve insulin sensitivity, reduce inflammation, increase muscle mass, suppress estrogen and protect the stomach lining.
Wine also has been shown to improve cognition and slow the progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Spanish wines are among the best kinds of red wine to drink for their higher antioxidant content. The antioxidant status is higher because their grapes are grown in high altitude, thus creating thicker skin to protect themselves from the sun.
The “bad” alcohol is hard liquor.
Vodka, whiskey, rum, and gin … oh my! Drinking these types of alcoholic beverages make it a bit harder to lose body fat and gain healthy lean muscle tissue.
Gluten free vodka’s are the best if hard liquor is your drink of choice (Click here to see some of the better options). Tito’s vodka with club soda and a lemon or lime works well. The lemon or lime will help lower the negative blood sugar effect that booze has on the body.
The “ugly” alcohol is beer.
It is very difficult to lose body fat when consuming beer on a regular basis. Beer contains phytoestrogens, which increase aromatase. Aromatase is the process of converting your testosterone to estrogen. It usually leads to inflammation and a high pec fold via body fat measurements. If you’re a man who cries during a Hallmark commercial, odds are you have some aromatase going on with lowered testosterone.
Let’s be clear: we are not promoting alcohol consumption as part of your fitness plan. However, we do promote finding balance in life, setting the table for health and happiness. Too much of anything will lead to a feeling of burn out and sadness. Smart selections and moderation is the key to staying lean, healthy and strong.