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The Truth About Alcohol and Weight Loss

Time to answer the burning question...Can you have a little booze while trying to lose fat? 

Although I'd love to give you a cut and dry answer, it's not quite that simple. But when you put it all in perspective, it may help you make your own, educated, and effective decision.

Let me guide you through a few facts and then we'll sum it all up together.

How Many Calories are in Your Jack and Coke?

Did you know that a shot of alcohol alone contains 100-150 calories? AND...depending on the bartender, you might get more or less than a shot in your drink. 

And how many of you drink your hard alcohol straight up all the time? Very few. So we must talk about the calories in some common mixers. 
  • A glass of Coke is about 100 calories (about 150 in a full can).
  • A glass of any fruit juice comes in at about the same. 
Most mixers are nothing more than sugar laced water. You're lucky if they have any nutrients at all.

What does this all mean to you and your fat loss efforts?

Let’s just say you spent January watching the NFL playoffs and pouring your own drinks. Most of you out there I KNOW are putting close to double the alcohol into the glass. AND...I'll bet you had a pretty good sized glass. So the average Jack and Coke or Screwdrive/Vodka and Cranberry would look like this:

  • 2.5 shots of Jack or Vodka
  • 8 oz of Coke or juice

Do the math. That drink alone would bring in about 350 calories. And most people like to go for a second and third glass. If you enjoy 3 of those in a sitting, you're over 1,000 calories. You might as well have just sat down to a Whopper combo at Burger King.

But that's not where it ends. Most of you won't admit this (or are even aware of it), but this often leads to further damage. The fact is that both decision and inhibitions get much lower after a few cocktails. 

When you're loose and have fun, why not have some tequila shots? Right? Why not. You're feeling good. How about some of terrible nutrition choices that come along with drinking? Who doesn't like some wings, pizza, and or even a late night run to the diner? Looking back to when I was in college, I can remember guys that would consume well over 2,000 calories in drinks and finish that off with 1,000 or more calories at 3am with cheese and gravy fries, pizza, or a run to iHop.

Yes, the above examples are obviously worse case scenarios. BUT they are very real and very common examples. Yet, I truly believe you can still enjoy a couple glasses of wine, a couple of beers, or fyour avorite cocktails once in a while. This is not going to shut down your fat burning. But the key words are "ONCE IN A WHILE."

Your results come from what you do all week collectively...not because of one night where you happen to cut loose.

What About All of You Nightly Wine Drinkers?

I know many of you (clients included) that like to have 1-2 glasses of wine just about EVERY night. How much impact does this have on your fat burning goals?


It will depend on the total calories consumed on your wine drinking days. 

Each glass of wine is about 100-150 calories. If your total caloric "needs" for each day are 2400, and you drink 2 large glasses of wine, that means anything over 2100 calories in food will put you in the "extra" calorie range.

If you can be disciplined and stick to, in our example, 2100 calories (of whole, natural foods of course), then the wine shouldn’t have much - if any - negative impact on your fat burning.

In fact, I know many individuals that can drink two glasses of wine or beer per day and have six pack abs. There’s plenty of real world case studies to back that up, too. AND, if you're a young man, you can drink a LOT more than that and be 'ripped'.

But of course, I’m not recommending it.

How Many Drinks Can I Have and Still Have Abs?

The answer to this quesiton is...“It depends.”

The bottom line is that most people don't have the discipline to drink and get the fat burning effects they are seeking from their diet and exercise program. Heck, most people don't even care to track their calories to even know if they can make it work.

What the vast majority of you will find is that alcohol calories add up quick, and lower your discipline against eating high-calorie foods that take you even further away from your goal. 

Think about this statement....To make it all work you would have to eat LESS wholesome, nourishing foods. Does that make sense? I don't know about you, but I like a little more bang for my buck. I'd rather chew my enjoyment. And since we are on the subect...PLEASE stop siting the health benefits of drinking alcohol. No matter what "health benefits" a study shows in regards to certain alcohol, I can find a food that does the same thing, better. 

So when trying to lose fat, my advice is...

Save your calories for that something better.

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James Cipriani
Cutting Edge Personal Training
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April 2016!!!
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