If you’re not careful, the weekend and vacations are where you can fall off the wagon and sabotage a lot of your weight loss efforts and fitness progress you’ve made.
You normally work hard. So when the weekend and vacations come, you just want to relax and have a couple of beers with the guys or a few glasses of wine with your girlfriends.
But you don’t want to undo all of your clean eating and progress you’ve made with your workouts.
So the question is: can you drink alcohol and still lose weight?
The answer is: “Yes! Yes, you can.”
Here are five easy rules you can follow when you do decide to drink. They’ll save you a ton of extra calories and keep you moving in the right direction.
1) Work Out In The Morning
Planning to drink at night? Work out in the morning. This will ensure you don’t interfere with exercise recovery. You’ll also burn off a few hundred calories which will help to offset some of those extra calories you’ll be getting from the booze later.
2) Eat Right At Breakfast And Lunch
For breakfast and lunch, go high-protein high-veggies, and aim to keep it on the lighter side. For example: eggs for breakfast, salad with chicken breast for lunch. Don’t compound all of the extra carbs from booze with a high-carb breakfast like potatoes or cereal and then a high-carb lunch like pasta. Offset the carbs you’ll be drinking that night with protein and veggies during the day.
3) Stick To Low-Calorie Drinks
Your best option is to go with liquor (whiskey, vodka, tequila, brandy, gin, etc.) on the rocks or with a zero-calorie mixer (club soda, seltzer water, diet soda, etc.) If that’s not your thing, go with wine or light beer. Beware of high sugar mixers as these will seriously increase the calories in your drink and give you a mean hangover.
4) Avoid Drunk Food
Pizza, tacos, fast food, greasy snacks, and appetizers are never a good idea. Neither is ending up at that all night diner for the mega breakfast (your sixth meal of the day) at 4:30 AM. But, hey, it happens.
Your best bet is to offset the influx of carbs with protein. A lot of times it’s not the actual alcohol people consume that causes the weight gain; it’s the food choices they make along with it. So choose a lean protein like chicken, steak, or fish as your meal if you’re going to be eating and avoid or keep bread, rice, pasta, sweets, and snacks minimal.
5) The Day After
The day after your epic fails and bad choices, sweat it out with a workout, even if it’s not a great one. Just get something in. Drink a lot of water to flush your system and rehydrate. Go high-protein high-veggies all day to balance your macros back out. For more on this, read How To Recover From An Unhealthy Weekend.
Why This Also Works On Vacations
These five rules are great to follow not just on boozy weekends, but also on vacations.
Three reasons why:
1) When you’re on vacation, you’re probably not working out as much (if at all) as you normally would. So you’re not burning calories or boosting your metabolism.
2) Vacations are typically anywhere from 4-7 days or more of low physical activity and lots of eating out…and possibly lots of drinking as well.
3) Alcohol is a toxin. Your body has to work hard to eliminate it. This means that breaking down additional food and burning fat get deregulated. So those extra calories from the pizza and breadsticks you ate have a much higher chance of showing up around your waistline than it does getting burned off.
Learn From My Mistakes
Vacations used to completely derail my progress. Every time.
I wouldn’t work out.
I would eat out almost every single meal. Isn’t that what you are supposed to do on vacation?
And I’d drink almost every day. Sometimes more than a little.
Here’s what a typical day on vacation looked like for me maybe eight years ago.
Breakfast – skillet from a local restaurant, bloody mary
Lunch – sandwich, fries, soup, beer
Dinner – Cheesecake Factory, pasta, a few mixed drinks, and a slice of cheesecake
After Party – there would usually be a night out after dinner which meant more booze and probably some late night junk food
Here’s what a typical day on vacation looks like now.
Morning Workout – 40 minutes strength training
Breakfast – scrambled eggs and fruit
Lunch – salad with chicken breast, water
Dinner – Cheesecake Factory, soft tacos, two glasses of wine, half a slice of cheesecake
After Party? – probably not
Next Day – 20-minute bodyweight circuit workout
Okay, okay. I’m not always such a good boy. Sometimes I backslide a little. Or a lot.
The point is, if you (more or less) stick to all five of the rules above, you will save A LOT of calories and prevent the worst setbacks.
Try it. It’s a plan. And any plan is better than no plan.
Brian Donovan is a certified fitness and nutrition coach, and the founder of Online Fitness Coach, LLC – an online fitness program where clients get direct coaching and personally tailored training and nutrition plans. Coach Brian was voted Chicago’s “Best Personal Trainer” by Chicago Reader magazine, Best Of Chicago 2014 edition. He has been featured in magazines such as Muscle & Fitness, Chicago Reader, Voyage Chicago, and The PTDC as well various other health and fitness blogs.
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