Drinking on a Diet – Alcohol vs. Weight Loss vs. Muscle Building

Drinking on a Diet – Alcohol vs. Weight Loss vs. Muscle Building


One of the most frequently asked questions is how does drinking affect your diet? Do you really have to forfeit your social life to lose weight? There is a TON of misinformation out there so here’s your Saiyan take on it.

1. Calories from alcohol are not equivalent to calories from food.

This is slightly confusing because our body interprets and breaks down calories for alcohol very differently than it does a calorie from any food source. Take a look at the below image.


This image is fundamentally misleading and wrong. Let’s analyze why:

In purely caloric terms, alcohol receives 7.1 calories per gram; however, our bodies don’t always interpret it that way. Some sources say after the thermic effect of food (postprandial thermogenesis), alcoholic calories should be roughly 5 ~ 6 per gram (varies on what your meal consisted of). However,  even these calories cannot be deconstructed into energy because our body thinks of alcohol as a virus. Our liver begins to fight it and de-synthesize it thus most of the calories are not real calories to our body. Our bodies are intricate so it’s hard to tell what’s really happening. Don’t misinterpret incorrectly, though. When you drink, your drink is not entirely made up of calories from alcohol, but is more of a mix of sugar/carbs and alcohol. If you’ve mixed it with soda, juice, etc. then you must remind yourself to calculate those calories as well.

Use this website to find what your drink is comprised of.

But why do we still gain weight? The problem lies within what we do after we drink.

2. Alcohol stops leptin secretion

Leptin, one of our “starvation hormones,” is one of the key hormones that regulates fat metabolism and satiety levels. Alcohol inhibits the production and secretion of leptin. This means your body will effectively stop metabolizing or breaking down food. Another way to think about it is key in telling your body to constantly burn calories. Even when you’re sleeping, leptin regulates our metabolism and keeps us burning calories; however, when alcohol stops production of leptin, you stop burning as many calories are you would normally burn.

3. Low leptin usually leads to constant appetite and hunger

Since your leptin levels are low, you never feel fully satiated. This is why when you drink alcohol, you’re able to constantly eat food without feeling full. You lose self-control and start pigging out. Your body’s hormones cannot effectively signal fullness to your brain. Also, calories that you consume as food metabolize slower (see point 2) due to lower levels of leptin. Your body is focusing most of its resources on breaking down the alcohol that food begins to store as fat. Your body begins to use all available nutrients to combat the alcohol and more often than not, you have insufficient nutrients.


4. Alcohol prevents protein synthesis

If you happened to work out your muscles prior to going out drinking, your body will not have be fully recovered. When you start drinking, your body’s priorities change from recovery mode to alcohol removal mode. As you may well know, the point of a weight lifting session is to break down muscle tissue. Our muscles become larger when the protein that we consume is metabolized and re-synthesized to repair our muscles. However, alcohol stops proteins from synthesizing and so your weight lifting session was potentially futile.

What does this all mean?

Overall, drinking negatively impacts your diet, but the information out the internet misconstrues what is really happening to our body. Drinking alcohol once a month for a social occasion probably won’t have too large of an impact on your body, but drinking alcohol three to four times a week can be detrimental if you’re trying to become fit.

Does this mean you should stop drinking? Depends on your goals. Since the typical Saiyan is not your typical bodybuilder, I don’t think drinking alcohol is all that bad. In fact, you should decompress and relieve some stress occasionally. You don’t have to forgo your social life to meet you Saiyan transformation, but if at possible, limit it.

I’m going out tonight. What are some good practices?

If at possible, fast and/or reduce your caloric intake until you go out. This, of course, means you will not have food in your stomach so the chance of becoming inebriated are much faster. Try your best to meet your protein intake and reduce your carbohydrate intake for the day. Enjoy. Have fun. Don’t stress.

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