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The ETP Guide to Drinking Alcohol

A big part of what we try to do is meet people where they are.  For a lot of people “enjoying life” means having a few drinks every now and again and it doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice your six pack because you like drinking one on occasion.  This post originally was published in the Science Lab private forum which is chock full of this kind of goodness.  You get access as a bonus when you purchase Met Flex for Fat Loss.

This is a guest post from one of our Science Lab moderators Michael Andrews

Alright, we all know all the horrible things alcohol does to your system in terms of performance and progress when we drink in excess. While it is true that having more than one or two drinks in one sitting is not ideal, neither are those slices of pizza and cheesecake you decided to splurge on last night either.

Before I go into this, just a little background on me. Yes, I drink. If you’re reading this, I’d say there’s a 90% chance I drink more than you do, both in frequency and quantity. I know what I know through two things.

1. A ton of research on what and why alcohol does to your body. Like to the point where I can give you the science behind why you pass out, or how you could drink enough that someone could remove a kidney, and you wouldn’t wake up.

2. Experience. Trial and error, and just general experience in what works, and what doesn’t.

Now, if you’re trying to compete in regionals, want to maintain a bf% of < 10, or are some other extreme type of athlete, I recommend you never go beyond two drinks in a day, flat out. It will have an effect on performance, and top tier people need every edge they can get. That being said, can you have a six pack (the ab kind), be in awesome shape, destroy wods, and still of had 12 beers last weekend? Absolutely.

The fact is, some of us like to drink. And sometimes, that means more than one drink. So, what should you do when you decide to drink? Here are a few tips and tricks.

In general, try to make any day you’re going to drink a low(ish) carb day. This will be harder for beer drinkers (more on that below) but is actually pretty easy. Here’s how you do it.

For my people who like their mixed drinks - Stay away from soda if you can. It’s going to have a ton of carbs and will make it really tough to stay low carb. If you are going to do mixed drinks with soda, I perfer diet sodas. People will rant and rave about the chemicals in diet soda, and while bad, it’s preferable to do that and skip the carbs, than to have 400g of carbs from 6 drinks. Yes diet pop isn’t good for you, but neither is drinking, and I’m assuming your not pounding 8 diet and captains every day. Most liquors have 0-3 carbs per serving, so you can drink enough to pass out (not that you should) and as long as you watched what you ate (no 2 am Mcky Ds runs) you will have stayed pretty low carb. Some people might mention your hangovers are worse with diet soda, but do you know what creates a hangover, alcohol. I put as much credit behind that as the myth that drinking from a straw get’s you drunk faster (remembering those college days…). If you can, drink liquors straight or with club soda. I’ve found that after drinking my vodka with club soda and a little lime for a while, I prefer it to vodka and soda. The only thing I still use diet pop for is rum. There’s no way around that, in my opinion

Wine-o’s Not too much to say here, drink your fill when you’re having that “more than I should drink nite.” Pretty low carb and has a few aspects that are good for you. Although, that doesn’t mean that drinking 6 is better than drinking 1, because it has antioxidants or anything. Just be mindful of hangovers on wine, most people I know tend to get worse hangovers, than their beer or liquor drinking counterparts. Although this is likely attributed the fact that you usually consume more alcohol overall, if you’re drinking wine vs the other two things, in the same time frame.

For beer drinkers - Beers have carbs so be mindful. Yes, you can drink the moose piss they call “low carb beers” like mich ultra, but I’d rather not drink anything than drink that crap. If you want to have some, that’s fine, just be mindful of how many carbs are in your beer and use common sense. If your beer has 50g of carbs in it, you probably don’t want to drink 8. Maybe a few and then switch to a spirit and diet or club soda, or just grow a set and drink some Jameson, neat (or whatever liquor you prefer). A side note; most dark beers are actually low carb. Ounce for ounce, guinness has less carbs and calories in it than a bud light. So, once again, you could just grow a set and get used to drinking dark beers. When you’re talking 13g of carbs vs 20 or 30 per 12 ozs, you can drink a lot more beer with less carbs.

It’s the morning after, now what? Since you made that day a low carb day, the next day should be a rest day. Your body is going to need to repair what the booze did to it, and you probably won’t feel like working out anyways. Also, if you can manage it, try to counter your drinking with water. I like to go drink to water ratio of 2:1. I.e. two beers, one glass of 8oz of water. It will help you from drinking too much and will help with recovery and all in all, make you feel better the next morning. Along with the water, try to take a vitamin b complex the day you are going to be drinking, and then possibly one the morning after, depending on how you feel. Another part of a hangover is a vitamin deficiency, and one of the main ones your body uses to “fix” what alcohol does to it (yes it is a poison) is vitamin b. Ever wonder why people claim bloody marys cure hangovers? Two reasons. First, there’s alcohol in it, and part of a hangover is your body withdrawing from alcohol. So, you put a little booze back in there and your body says “ahhh”. 2. Bloody mary’s have tomatoe juice in them. Guess what tomato juice is high in, vitamin b. – I just said vitaimin b to avoid confusion, yes I know there some specific b’s we’re talking about here, but that’s why I recommend a b complex.

“Ok, so I didn’t listen to a damn thing you just said and went way over and had 10 beers and then we ate french fries and ice cream, and I probably had 800g of carbs and no protein, and I feel like crap, what should I do?”

Don’t freak out, one day is not going to mean the end of the world. I wouldn’t recommend you make this a frequent occurrence, but it happens to the best of us. Just recover, and it probably wouldn’t hurt to even get carbs the next day. Your body is going to be craving sugars anyways (not going to nerd out on why) so those carbs will feel/taste amazing. Then, maybe two days later, have a control day. I’ll note you may not need an extra control day at all. Depending on the scale, you might just get back into your routine and control as you normally would have the following week. However, if you absolutely feel you need an extra control day, let’s not do that immediately the next day as your body is already stressed. Yea, the scale will be up for a few days, but it’ll go back down with proper nutrition and getting back into the swing of things.
Questions or comments, let me know!

Summary

Make your drinking day a low carb day. It’s actually pretty easy with some planning ahead.

Mixed Drinkers – club soda is optimal, but diet soda is ok. Really stay away from soda, too much sugar

Wine Drinkers – drink away and be prepared for a hangover

Beer Drinkers – most dark beers are low carb, but you can drink whatever beer you want. Just be mindful of the carbs in whatever you’re drinking and use common sense.

The next day – Don’t control. You’re going to be craving carbs and your body is already stressed. Wait two days to throw in a control day if you can, or just get back on your normal schedule and control as you normally would.

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