I get this question a lot. First of all, I think it’s important to understand what exactly alcohol is in the context of calories and macronutrients.
Alcohol is a totally separate category- it is not technically a protein, fat, or carbohydrate, THOUGH it might have these things mixed in it from things like the malt in beer (carb) or sugar in a mixed drink (another carb). Alcohol is 7 calories per gram, whereas protein and carbs are 4 calories per gram and fat is 9 calories per gram.
There are three things to consider here.
If you are exceeding your caloric needs through alcohol, you are going to gain weight because…science. A surplus in calories of any kind will lead to weight gain, and if it’s alcohol it will likely not be a gain of muscle.
Alcohol lowers inhibitions and affects decision making. So a couple drinks in, not only could you be in a surplus in calories, but you also might make some decisions to increase that calorie surplus via not so healthy food. Or quite possible, you might not even REMEMBER you ate that food!
Number 3 (and probably the most important)
As I mentioned above, alcohol is neither protein, fat, or carbohydrate. Therefore it cannot:
– Provide us quick and useful energy for a workout or help to balance our blood sugar.
– Assist in building or maintaining lean muscle mass or keep us satiated.
– Help us to absorb nutrients or produce healthy hormones in our body.
…among other things. Alcohol calories truly do nothing positive for our body. They also force our liver to work harder, which is viewed as an added stressor by our (likely already stressed and inflamed) body. Plus alcohol has been shown to impact sleep, which is going to create a waterfall effect for you in terms of health promoting behaviors like making good food choices or getting your butt to the gym.
The moral of the story
Listen, I’m not here to be a full on debbie downer. You CAN enjoy drinking in moderation when you have a wellness goal. You just need to keep in mind the overall message here: you might achieve this goal slower if you choose to drink.
Want more tips on how to balance macros and fit things like alcohol into your plan? Download my free guide to calculating your macros!