Happy 4th of July! When I think about the celebration of this holiday, images of barbecues, fireworks, and beer dance through my head. I know that I’m certainly not alone when it comes to this way of thinking, which is why I wanted to write about how doing 12oz curls can influence your fitness and physique. So whether you’re drinking whiskey, wine, or whatever else you use as social lube, let’s dive into how it will influence your waistline.
The Basics Of Imbibing
Alcohol comes in many forms, but in general a unit is typically 12 oz (355 mL) of 5% beer, 5 oz (150 mL) 12.5% wine, or 1.5 oz (45 mL) of drinks with a higher (40%) alcohol content. Most of us drink alcohol because it’s a neuroactive chemical that gets us buzzed. But that inebriation comes at a caloric cost that most forget about. That fire water you’re enjoying contains 7 calories per gram energy-wise, but this does not always correlate well with body weight like the other macronutrients (carbs, fats, proteins) do. Finally, as you read the rest of this post it’s important to keep in mind that “moderate” drinking is dependent on gender and not ultimately defined, but an upper limit can be placed at 9 units per week for women and 12-14 units a week for men, with no single event exceeding 4 units.
Beer Nuts & Drunk Munchies
If you’re trying to lose weight, or at least not gain a beer belly, you know that you want to consume fewer calories than you expend. Drinking can certainly influence both aspects, but lets take a closer look at the former aspect of the equation. One important thing to consider when it comes to eating under the influence is that alcohol alters your brain activity along with your hunger hormones. In turn, it can influence what you perceive as tasty. We know that increased calorie consumption is not due to a drunken urge to chow down, but rather it’s due to an increased food-related reward when we taste energy-rich foods… like nachos (1). And remember how calories that come from booze don’t always correlate well with body weight? Well that’s because the calories that you get from alcohol have a large individual variability according to the absolute amount of alcohol consumed, drinking frequency as well as genetic factors. For instance, alcohol calories count more in moderate non-daily consumers than in daily (heavy) consumers as well as counting more in combination with a high-fat diet and in overweight and obese individuals (2). Just another reason why counting your calories can be frustrating. Although binge drinking can cause binge eating, it’s safe to say that exercising in moderation while tossing a few back together with a healthy lifestyle won’t cause weight gain (3).
Obviously, not gaining weight is not enough for most of us. If you want to lose weight then you may want to consider altering your drinking habits. This is because drinking is done in social situations, which leads to social eating, which can lead to poor nutritional choices. You should start by tracking your choices on getting tipsy with a drinking journal. From there, you can address where in your lifestyle you need to make adjustments. For more information on how exactly to go about this, you can listen to or read this wonderful information put you by the folks over at Precision Nutrition.
Ethanol & Exercise
The key theme and take away from this whole post should be that moderation is key. Drinking a brew or two after exercise every once in a while won’t make you gain weight or lose any benefits you get from the bout of exercise. However, over indulging, especially on a consistent basis, will decrease your overall health and stop progress in its tracks. So have some fun if drinking is your thing, but don’t be an Animal House frat boy. This may be the best way to live life to the fullest.
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1. Yeomans, M. R. (2010). Short term effects of alcohol on appetite in humans. effects of context and restrained eating. Appetite, 55(3), 565-573. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2010.09.005
2. Suter, P. M., & Tremblay, A. (2005). is alcohol consumption a risk factor for weight gain and obesity? Critical Reviews in Clinical Laboratory Sciences, 42(3), 197-227. doi:10.1080/10408360590913542
3. Traversy G, Chaput J-P. Alcohol Consumption and Obesity: An Update. Current Obesity Reports. 2015;4(1):122-130. doi:10.1007/s13679-014-0129-4.
4. Jiménez-Pavón, D., Cervantes-Borunda, M. S., Díaz, L. E., Marcos, A., & Castillo, M. J. (2015). Effects of a moderate intake of beer on markers of hydration after exercise in the heat: A crossover study. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12, 26. doi:10.1186/s12970-015-0088-5
5. Burke, L. M., Collier, G. R., Broad, E. M., Davis, P. G., Martin, D. T., Sanigorski, A. J., & Hargreaves, M. (2003). Effect of alcohol intake on muscle glycogen storage after prolonged exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology, 95(3), 983-990. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00115.2003
6. Ebrahim, I., Fenwick, P., Williams, A. J., & Shapiro, C. (2015). Alcohol and sleep review: Sound statistics and valid conclusions. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 39(5), 944-946. doi:10.1111/acer.12708
7. Steiner, J. L., Gordon, B. S., & Lang, C. H. (2015). Moderate alcohol consumption does not impair overload-induced muscle hypertrophy and protein synthesis. Physiological Reports, 3(3), e12333. http://doi.org/10.14814/phy2.12333
8. Duplanty, A. A., Budnar, R. G., Luk, H. Y., Levitt, D. E., Hill, D. W., McFarlin, B. K., … & Vingren, J. L. (2016). Effect of Acute Alcohol Ingestion on Resistance Exercise Induced mTORC1 Signaling in Human Muscle. Journal of strength and conditioning research/National Strength & Conditioning Association.