The Alcohol Regimen: Part 2 – The Guide to Physique-Friendly Heavy Drinking
Posted by Michael Vacanti
We kicked off The Alcohol Regimen with a quick intro here if you missed it.
It was 6pm on a spring semester Thursday as I sipped my strawberry margarita; the weekend had arrived.
Our waitress passed my fajitas over the bar as I poured glass number two of slushy deliciousness from the dangerously strong $10 pitcher.
Once entirely separate thoughts, they became intertwined for the first time ever.
But, I didn’t know it yet.
All I knew, in my buzzed state, was that I soon would devour my chicken and steak but leave the four tortillas to waste.
It was the first time I adjusted my diet to compensate for alcohol consumption.
In hindsight, it’s obvious. I was housing 40 grams of sugar per glass, so I simply wasn’t hungry for carb-laden tortillas. But at the time, I was acting on instinct rather than knowledge.
Over time, this simple decision became a strategy. Small(er) dinners became 100% protein dinners which became an adjusted eating schedule for the whole day – setting up a guilt-free night out.
So What Should I Eat?
Remember, the law of thermodynamics is still king. If you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain fat. Whether those calories come from protein, fat, carbs or alcohol, the law is the law.
- 1 gram protein: 4 calories
- 1 gram carbs: 4 calories
- 1 gram fat: 9 calories
- 1 gram alcohol: 7 calories
With this in mind, we can adjust our calorie and macronutrient intake for the day that we plan on drinking to set up a “reserve” for alcohol.
But first, let’s make an important distinction.
Casual Beverage vs. Heavy Drinking
There is a big difference between a glass of wine per evening and a hard night on the town.
Casual drinking, two drinks or less, has somewhere between zero and a negligible effect on your physique. Yeah, you have to account for the 100-300 calories in your drink(s), but this is no sweat if you’ve tried counting calories before.
The negative side effects of heavy drinking – inhibited protein synthesis, excessive caloric surplus, decreased testosterone, increased cortisol and the desire to eat an entire pizza at 2am – are hardly worries of the casual drinker.
So, if you never drink heavy, you’re golden.
But, since you aren’t all Mrs. Vacanti (my mother, not wife, thank God), you want to know what to eat before a hard night out.
5 Rules to Heavy Drinking On The Regimen
Rule #1 – Get your protein
Whatever your daily protein target may be (1g per pound bodyweight, 1g per pound LBM, etc), hit it during the day you’ll be drinking. Here’s why:
- Adequate protein helps prevent muscle loss
- Protein provides the greatest satiety of any macronutrient. You will be eating a caloric deficit during the day, so adequate protein will fend off hunger.
Rule #2 – Caloric Deficit
We will reduce carb and fat intake and consume a caloric deficit the day of the festivities. This sets up a “reserve” for alcohol calories at night.
Ex: Little John, a 260 pound male with 14% bodyfat has a caloric maintenance of 3500.
Little John – Maintenance Macros
- Protein: 260g
- Carbs: 350g
- Fat: 120g
Our goal is Food Calories + Alcohol Calories = Maintenance.
Trying to stay below maintenance is just greedy, in my opinion. Pick up the fat loss program the next day.
Little John – Day of Drinking Macros
- Protein: 260g
- Carbs: *150g
- Fat: *50g
Alcohol: 1400 calorie reserve 3500 – 2100 (260*4 + 150*4 + 50*9)
Or 13 Drinkability Limes
We aren’t all heavy hitters like the big guy, so this one might be more applicable.
Ex: Lil’ Kim, a 125 pound female has a caloric maintenance of 1700.
Lil’ Kim – Maintenance Macros
- Protein: 115g
- Carbs: 180g
- Fat: 58g
Lil’ Kim – Drinking Macros
- Protein: 115g
- Carbs: 120g
- Fat: 30g
Alcohol: 490 calorie reserve 1700 – 1210 = 490
Lil’ Kim earned herself four glasses of red wine.
*The carbohydrate and fat numbers I used above are not based on hard and fast rules. How severely you restrict these macros will be based on how much you want to drink.
Rule #3 – H20
Drink lots of water on drinking days because:
- Drinking water helps curb the hunger your deficit may cause
- Heavy drinking will dehydrate you
I’m not going to quantify this because it will vary by person. I also won’t describe your piss color because, gross. You guys know how to stay hydrated.
Rule #4 – No Juice. No Regular Soda.
The calories you drink while out at night will primarily come from alcohol, but you will also drink somewhere between zero and a shitload of carbs depending on your beverage of choice.
As mentioned, we will get into drink specific calorie content later in the series.
So, for now, just avoid juices and regular sodas.
Example: Let’s pretend you drink four tall rum and cokes in a night. At two (1.5 ounce) shots a piece, that is 12 ounces of rum.
A 3:1 soda-to-liquor ratio is pretty standard. This gives you 36 ounces of coke or 117 grams of sugar.
That is 470 more calories in rum and coke than rum and diet.
If you go out once per week, that is SEVEN POUNDS OF FAT PER YEAR.
So, say it with me… “Captain Diet.” “Whiskey Diet.” “Tequila Diet.” Err. Don’t say that.
Swap out the regular soda for diet and ditch the juices.
Caveat: Your total macros are still king. If you love pineapple vodka, who am I (some jokester on the internet) to say you can’t drink them.
Adjust your daily macros accordingly, and have fun.
Rule #5 – No Drunk Food
It’s 2am, 4am or 6am depending on what city you just tore up. You don’t have a special someone to cuddle up with. You haven’t put food in your body since 8pm. And that [ pizza / asian noodle bar / ice cream gallon ] is drawing you in.
Don’t do it. Go home, chug some water and go to bed.
If you make the decision before you even go out – no drunk food – it will be much less tempting.
That being said, the only thing worse than binging on drunk food is binging on drunk food while drunkenly rationalizing it as beneficial to your body.
Well… I did train legs yesterday. I know my goal is to lose bodyfat, which is why I’ve been working hard to maintain a deficit for the last two months, but an entire pizza could help me get capitalize on some gains.
“Yeah, count me in for pizza! It’s on my bulking reg!”
Wait, so I can just follow these 5 rules and reach my goals as efficiently as I would stone cold sober? Didn’t you mention some negative side effects of heavy drinking?
Follow my five rules and you can drink heavy while moving toward your goals. You won’t take three steps backward every time you go out.
However, yes, there are downsides to heavy drinking besides the additional calories. Recovery from training, changes in hormones and more. And I will provide strategies to negate those downsides.
Still to come:
- Simplified rules to follow if you have no interest estimating alcohol calories
- How to optimize your training schedule around heavy drinking
- Calorie content of various beer, wine, liquor and popular drinks
- Hangover nutrition, calories and training
IF WE GET 10 COMMENTS ON THIS ARTICLE, I WILL POST PART 3 BY SATURDAY!
Continued in Part 3