Everything You Need to Know About Alcohol and Muscle Growth
Can you drink alcohol while training? I get asked this question all of the time, and to be honest the answer is somewhat complicated. If you simply want to know if you can drink while participating in a Jessie’s Girls Training Program, the answer is yes. Drinking is OK, but you should remember to drink in moderation and don’t forget to include it in your macros.
How Alcohol Affects Your Training
There’s no doubt that alcohol is hard on your body, but what does it actually do?
When you drink, nearly 20 percent of what you drink is absorbed into your bloodstream right away in your stomach. The rest is then absorbed throughout your intestines. Once you have this alcohol into your bloodstream, your body wants to get rid of it as soon as possible. So instead of your body working to metabolize and process the nutrients, foods and macros you work so hard to put in your body, it’s working to get rid of the alcohol instead.
Alcohol dehydrates you
Alcohol is a diuretic so when you drink, the water in your body is used to metabolize alcohol when it should be working processing other substances in your body.
Alcohol lowers protein synthesis
Alcohol will actually lower protein synthesis by around 20 percent. Protein synthesis helps build your muscles. When you get the small micro tears in your muscles due to resistance training, the process of protein synthesis helps repair them into bigger and stronger muscle fibers. So this not only harms your muscle growth, but it slows down your recovery.
How do you track alcohol?
If you’re going to drink, you should always include it in your macros. Tracking it can be tricky, and doesn’t include everything (such as your mixers, etc.) but here’s how to do the basic math.
1. Convert the ounces of your drink to grams
a. Example – 2 oz of vodka in a glass converts to 56 grams of vodka in a glass
2. Find out the amount of grams of pure alcohol is in the drink based on the alcohol percentage.
a. To do this you simply multiply the grams of alcohol by the percentage. For this example, our 56 grams of vodka contains 40 percent alcohol, so 56g x 0.40 = 22 grams of alcohol.
3. Convert the grams of alcohol to calories.
a. There are 7 calories per gram of alcohol. So with our vodka example, 22 grams of alcohol x 7 calories per gram = 156 calories.
4. Check the macros.
a. When we are figuring out the macros of alcohol, you must convert the calories into grams of carbohydrates. So for this example – 156 calories / 4 grams per calorie = 39.2 grams of carbohydrates.
It’s easy to see how alcohol stacks up very quickly, even without any other ingredients in our drinks. You also have to remember, these are the calculations for just the alcohol. Once you start to add in other mixers such as soda or tonic water – you have to figure that into your macros as well!
So what should you drink? Instead of drinking these common boozy beverages, swap them out for these healthy-ish options!
5 Healthier Alcohol Options
Instead of drinking liquor with juice…
Swap the juice out for some water and some of your favorite BCAA’s for a fun and healthy-ish drink! This is my personal go-to with some vodka!
Instead of drinking liquor with a sugary soda…
Swap the soda for tonic water or even better soda water with a splash of juice or a squeeze of lime. Cutting out the soda will drastically cut your sugar intake!
Instead of drinking margaritas…
Margarita mix is usually loaded with sugar and unnecessary calories, and tequila is rather sweet on its own – so try tequila with soda water and a splash of lime instead.
Instead of drinking sweet wines…
Opt for drier wines that contain less sugar. Another option with wine drinking is to add a splash of seltzer to your wine to stretch out your drinking without adding extra calories.
Instead of drinking just any beer…
Keep an eye out for some of the lower calorie and carb options! Not all beer is created equal. Many beer companies now offer lighter “lower carb” options, but you should know that even some dark beers can be good choices as well, such as Guinness which is 126 calories per pint.
There are so many different drink options out there, and it’s completely OK to go out and celebrate a night on the town! As the math can be a bit tricky, whenever a Jessie’s Girl is going out to have a few drinks the best idea is to plan, plan, plan!
You should plan out what drinks you will consume, how many, and include those in your macro nutrients for the day. You shouldn’t miss out on the good times while working through a Jessie’s Girls Training Program, but I encourage you to drink in moderation, and to plan out your drinks in advance.