Let’s talk alcohol.
We get asked almost daily about this topic. “I like a glass of wine a few times per week, can I continue that with your program”.
Well, technically, yes. If it fits your macros then you do you, boo. But just like calories in/calories out has so many caveats, so does this topic.
Let’s dig into exactly what happens with your body, starting from the second alcohol crosses your lips.
Your body shuts down processing all other macros and focuses only on metabolizing the alcohol. This means if you go to dinner and have 2 glasses of wine, the food you consume at the table gets stored for future fuel.
For all intents and purposes, alcohol is a poison to your body. That’s why you get that head floating feeling after the first few sips. Then the body starts to counter that. In the simplest terms, your body releases an upper to counter the downer that is the poison. This is why every drink after the first one is always chasing the initial feeling you got…yet you never get it again… until the next first drink.
That upper that your body releases raises your heart rate something fierce. Ever noticed how after you drink a few one night, head to bed then maybe 3-5 hours later you wake up with your heart racing? Maybe feeling a bit anxious? This is that period of time where the alcohol has been metabolized but your body is still trying to counter it. Basically got a big dose of speed racing through you at this stage. If you have a watch that monitors heart rate and sleep, you know what I’m talking about. Heart rate rarely drops below RHR levels that night.
And THAT is the biggest hurdle for your long term goals. We preach this over and over again- SLEEP is the first thing you should make sure is on point when working on health and fitness. Sleep is where you recover. Sleep is where muscle is repaired. All of this is what leads to more energy the following day, which leads to better choices for your goals.
Sleep after drinking is pitiful. One night I drank 2 margaritas from 645-845pm. Another night I drank a bottle of Prosecco from 1-6pm. In both cases my heart rate was super elevated. The time where drinking ended earlier in the day I had a drop towards the tail end of sleep, getting closer to RHR.
When you wake up not feeling rested impacts the chances of a good training session. What are the chances you turn to comfort food to feel better? Or because you lack energy and motivation you choose less than optimal food choices because of the extra effort required to prepare them?
Alcohol also lowers our inhibitions. All of a sudden our well planned day with a grilled chicken salad or pork and sweet potato turns into pizza or tacos or a pint of ice cream. It’s in this moment that we can also think- eff it, I blew my day anyway so now I’m really gonna do this right and you pour another drink and make a charcuterie board then head to the pool. I mean, not speaking from experience or anything.
Point is, alcohol can be fun and is a pretty big part of our society. Meeting with friends for brunch, sharing wine with your spouse, or even a throw back to your college days kind of party… it happens. You can continue to enjoy spirits here and there, but it really should be occasionally if you have health goals.
Knowing exactly what is happening inside your body might help you to make different choices. Might not. But knowledge is power. When I joined Eat To Perform I drank A LOT. Numerous times per week and a lot in a single sitting. This was the biggest change to my lifestyle. Even though I can get a decent amount of alcohol to fit (last Saturday I estimate it was about 970 calories worth), I don’t do it nearly as often as I used to.
Food fuels me. Food makes me feel way better than alcohol does. Also I’ve learned that programming 1 drink is just enough to piss me off. And programming 2 or more shows me just how much food I have to sacrifice for those drinks and most days it is not worth it to me.
That has been my mind shift with Eat To Perform. Seeing proof of what my heart rate does and how shitty my sleep and training becomes… makes it so when I choose to drink, I REALLY want to do it.
Because I know the cost.
Additional Resources: Alcohol Explained is an excellent read.
Even the programs that reverse don’t do a good job because they cave to the fear of their clients or they let AI (artificial intelligence) do the work.