Alcohol and your Goals

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive is about alcohol and how it can fit into a nutrition plan and daily life. The sad part is, we are fooled by marketing to think drinks like White Claw, light beers and just straight liquor only have a few carbs in them.

The truth is that alcohol isn’t ruled by the FDA and therefore they don’t have to report the calories from the alcohol on the labels. Alcohol is know to some as the 4th macro nutrient. The first three are carbs, proteins and fats. In case you aren’t already aware carbs and proteins equal 4 calories per gram and fat equals 9 calories per gram. Our 4th macro nutrient, alcohol equals 7 calories per gram.

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For example, when you look at a label of White Claw it will show 2 grams of carbs. If we multiply that by 4 for calories we get 8 calories BUT the label says 100 calories. It’s because of the alcohol. Most drinks have 14g. of alcohol so if we multiply that by 7, we are at 98 calories. Let’s say 100 for a round number though. 100 calories is equal to 25g. of carbs so if you really think about it, every time you have a White Claw you are consuming 25g. carbs, not 2 as the label says. This is also about the same for consuming any liquor so those vodka/soda and whiskey/diet drinks are the same.

If you are logging your food, use this as a cheat sheet when logging:

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Wait, there’s more…

When you drink alcohol your body sees it as a toxin, and its number one priority is to get rid of it. Your body will put fat loss and muscle building on hold during this time, and it will take a couple of days to process this.

This doesn’t mean you need to stop drinking completely, just be informed of the fact. If you are struggling to reach your goals, take a look at how many drinks you are consuming every week. Is that 2nd drink at happy hour worth the setback your body will experience?

A couple of pro-tips to incorporate balance

  1. Be mindful of added sugars in mixed drinks. Stick with your alcohol + soda water option for cocktails.

  2. Drink a glass of water between every drink. This slows down your alcohol consumption and combats the dehydration effect alcohol has.

  3. Eat first and make sure you’re rested. Alcohol can lower blood sugar levels, and consuming on an empty stomach or after a poor nights sleep or tough workout will deplete those levels further.