Alcohol And Weight Training (Or Even General Fitness & Health)

For the past 7 weeks (of a 12-week decision), I made a choice not to drink any alcohol as part of my first time ever weight training program. Can I hold out for another 5 weeks? Hell yeah – it’s easy for me. But, will I? Should I?

In my case I only drink rum. From a health standpoint, rum has been linked to reducing stress and lowering blood pressure. I have no proof on that, nor do I deem it important enough to find research studies on the subject. There is more widespread belief that a glass of wine a day is beneficial. But alcohol dehydrates, and when trying to gain mass/muscle, you strive to have your muscles hydrated.

Here’s my take on alcohol in relation to my goals. I’m not training to compete, so I’m not taking my fitness to the degree a competitor would. But, I’m trying to maximize any potential gains by being smart with nutrition. That being said, there “may” be room for an occasional drink, but it has to be planned for. Alcohol is known as “empty” calories. There’s approximately 70 calories in a shot (1 oz.) of rum. At home you can control your pour, but at a bar, one drink might be 2 ounces or more. When you are weight training to build muscle, you major concern is the tracking of macronutrients – proteins, carbohydrates, fat. In addition, based on scientific calculations, you want to achieve a specific daily calorie intake. So all that rum does is add calories and nothing else. And at the end of the day, excess calories is what makes you gain weight. Therefore, if I plan to go out and have a drink, I will assume an average of 2 ounces per drink (at my local watering hole, one drink is more than that) and have to figure about 150 calories of zero beneficial nutrition. That means in order to meet my daily macronutrient and calorie goals, I’ll have to make sure the rum calories are not in addition to my daily intake as calculated. I prefer to get my daily calories from healthy food sources (now that I am consciously thinking about and tracking nutrition).

For me, alcohol is more a social thing. I love the taste of chocolate. I like the taste of rum, and I don’t mind the “buzz” of a drink or two. But as I’ve progressed with my healthy lifestyle, alcohol doesn’t have it’s own place anymore – it’s just an add-on. I anticipate that only at particular parties or social events, I may have a drink and milk it all night. Other than that, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to my “regular” Friday and/or Saturday night drinks. This past 7 weeks I’ve seen how easy it is not to drink alcohol, and I truly do not miss mornings of lethargy after a 2+ drink night.

2 thoughts on “Alcohol And Weight Training (Or Even General Fitness & Health)

  1. Rob

    Another aspect of the alcohol debate is how it effects your normal metabolism. Your liver is a big part of your metabolism and usually it is involved in energy production either by using the sugars in your bloodstream or by utilizing energy stored in your fat cells. As soon as you intake any alcohol, all of that normal metabolizing stops and the liver focuses on metabolizing the alcohol. So fat burning stops completely while there is alcohol in your bloodstream. Not what you want to happen if you’re trying to control your weight. So it’s more than just taking in empty calories, you’re also preventing the burning of fat calories.

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    1. jparker Post author

      Excellent point – great information. I was focusing on the effects of alcohol on gaining mass and I wasn’t even contemplating metabolism. This highlights even more my feeling that alcohol is nothing more than a social filler. I used to think of alcohol only in relation to the dangers of driving with it in your system, but when you are focusing more on your overall health, alcohol moves to the back seat and beyond. It’s a choice you make. Some people enjoy how they feel on a drink or two. I used to, but as I’ve gotten older, that enjoyment has waned.

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