|Black & Blue Margarita - Longhorn Steakhouse|
little thing above was my dinner last night - well, scratch that - 2 of them were my dinner last night. And coming in at a whopping 410 calories EACH (820 total), they just barely 'fit my macros'. Actually, I take that back, they didn't fit my macros at all, because my macros don't account for alcohol. And that's what I'd like to discuss today...
People want to lose weight, and get in really great shape - they know they need to watch what they eat and exercise more, but what many of them fail to realize is they also have to watch what they drink. And I'm not just talking about alcohol here - but sugary soft drinks, fancy flavored coffees, even things you would typically consider healthy like juices. The problem with liquid calories is more often than not you drink them, but they do not leave you feeling satiated - so you end up getting a bunch of extra calories from your beverage choices, that really aren't doing you any good.
Today, however, I just want to briefly touch on alcohol and not all the rest, because alcohol seems to be a pretty hot topic especially for all the 20-somethings (and 30, 40, 50-somethings). So, do you have to stop drinking to get healthy?
I drink very rarely - those 2 margaritas were unplanned (and absolutely incredible) - before that the last time I drank alcohol was on my birthday - and I only had 4 beers over the course of the entire day. Prior to my birthday? Well, I honestly don't remember - maybe New Years? Or Thanksgiving? Whenever it was, my point is I don't drink often. And when I'm prepping for a show - I don't drink at all. I know people that do, but personally if I am limiting my calories I would prefer to get the few I'm allowed to have as FOOD than liquid. I like food, a lot. Offseason I allow myself some drinks here and there - and I don't see anything wrong with it. So I do allow my clients to do the same - I think it should be limited though - alcohol is dangerous for a whole slew of reasons I won't go into on here and therefore should not be treated lightly.
In the world of flexible dieting, macro-nutrients are key - and knowing your specific macro breakdowns is necessary. So for those macro-counters (and those who are just curious) a little summary:
1 gram of fat = 9 calories
1 gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories
1 gram of protein = 4 calories
1 gram of alcohol = 7 calories.
As you can see, each gram of alcohol has nearly twice the calories of a gram of fat or protein - the problem is all of these calories are empty, alcohol has NO nutritional value. To make matters worse, alcohol actually slows your metabolism - when you drink alcohol, your body makes it the top priority, working to process it before any other macro-nutrient. When you drink alcohol, your liver process the alcohol first which can lead to a build up of fatty acids (leftover from whatever other calories you may have consumed) which can lead to weight gain. Not only that, but drinking is proven to lower inhibitions, which can lead to diet sabotage when, after that second or third drink, unhealthy food becomes much more difficult to turn down.
If you enjoy drinking, that is completely fine and a choice that is for you to make personally, but if you are really serious about not only losing weight, but getting healthy - you may want to think those drinks through. If you are interested in reading more on the topic, this is a fantastic article that I would highly recommend: http://www.builtlean.com/2012/11/26/alcohol-weight-loss/