Is Alcohol De-Railing Your Progress?

Here's the scenario. You are going out for dinner on a Saturday night. Chances are, most of you would know better than to enter a McDonalds (or equivalent fast food chain) and gorge on a Big-Mac. That would be unhealthy right? It would be laden with calories, high in fat etc etc. However, I'm sure many of you wouldn't bat an eyelid at consuming a bottle of red wine.

Here are some stats: -

Calories in a standard Big Mac: 493Kcal
Calories in a standard bottle of red wine: 640Kcal

So, not only does a bottle of red wine contain more calories than a standard Big Mac burger, it is likely that you would eat a meal to accompany the bottle of red wine. I'm not going to delve into any health-related issues here. Rather, my point is purely one centred around energy balance (calories  in vs calories out) & the need to create and sustain an energy deficit for anyone looking to lose weight or body fat.


A familiar pattern I have witnessed over many years of training clients is one of near perfection Monday to Friday, and absolute destruction over the weekend! It is perfectly possible to wipe out all the good work done during the week with one huge night out over the weekend and alcohol is usually one of the main culprits.

I am not here to preach. I drink alcohol. However, I exercise restraint and moderation in my intake. Anyone wanting to lose weight/fat, or build muscle will need to exercise restraint in some areas of their life. There is simply no way around this. The very nature of dieting implies restriction of some kind. However, there is a difference between restriction and deprivation. So if you regularly drink alcohol, by all means continue. However, try to set some implementation intentions around your consumption: -

  • I will only drink alcohol on one night of the week
  • I will drink 1 glass of water between every alcoholic drink I consume
  • I will swap my calorie-laden cocktails for vodka & soda
  • I will only drink a maximum of 3 alcoholic drinks across the week

So my point is this: Enjoy alcohol in moderation. However, if you are regularly drinking yet not seeing the type of improvements in body shape and composition you are seeking, look to address this rather than blame the food you might be eating during the week. Alcoholic drinks contain more calories than you might imagine, so moderate your use and see what happens. As 'silly season' approaches us, don't let all your hard work, effort and discipline go to waste in a couple of weeks.

Below are some practical tips for when you are drinking: -

  • Minimise fat intake on the day you are drinking - try to stick to protein, fibre & slow digesting carbohydrates.
  • Try to stick to wines and spirits (they contain fewer calories)
  • If you have a tendency to over-eat after a night out, pre prepare a high protein meal to consume when you get in (avoiding late night junk food!).