I eat pretty clean and go to the gym 5-6 days a week. I really like to have a drink or two (or three…or four) on the weekends with my friends but I’m starting to wonder if alcohol will make me gain weight? I don’t seem to be getting anywhere with my...

There is a common phenomenon in gyms and workout facilities across the country. You see the same people jogging countless miles on the treadmill and pounding out reps on the weights only their physiques do not change.

They work out every day, yet their mid sections remain flabby and the junk stays in their trunk. This is usually due to a dietary mishap that ultimately leads to the lack of success of their training program. Sometimes this is due to a poor diet.

Often times, this is due to excess alcohol consumption. We all know that alcoholic beverages contain a lot of calories. A 12 oz frozen margarita contains a whopping 540 calories!

The unfortunate truth is that drinking alcohol decreases the rate at which you burn fat while limiting the amount of muscle you have ultimately causing you to pack on the pounds. It’s also no secret that excess alcohol has numerous negative effects on health such an increased risk of heart disease, liver disease and type II diabetes.

Many people think that a light beer or a “rum and diet” are lower calorie drinks and will not cause weight gain. According to a study by the University of Rochester, there are other biochemical reactions going on in your body when you drink alcohol, regardless of the calorie count on the label.

Here’s what happens in your body when you consume an alcoholic beverage: a small portion of the alcohol is immediately converted to and stored as fat. The remaining alcohol is converted to acetate in the liver and filtered through the bloodstream.

Acetate is a chemical that has a direct effect on how much fat you metabolize ultimately slowing the rate at which you burn fat. In the end, this sabotages your clean eating and working out turning you into a fat storing machine rather than a fat burning machine.

A single bout of heavy drinking can increase the hormone Cortisol in the bloodstream while lowering levels of testosterone. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone and is a nasty chemical that can break down muscle tissue while suppressing your body’s recovery from training.

Increased Cortisol coupled with lower levels of testosterone make it more difficult for the body to build muscle and burn fat. This explains why so often you see alcoholics with tiny little arms and legs and big round belly’s. So if you want lean and sexy muscles, you definitely can’t make a habit of heavy drinking!

Now we’ve all heard that red wine is good for you. Well this is only partly true. Red wine contains the anti-oxidant Resveratrol which is a powerful anti-oxidant in the fight against aging heart disease.

However, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. You can most definitely expect to see excess pounds on the scale on the scale if you consume too much red wine, despite its positive health effects.

If I am dieting for a specific goal, you will NOT see alcohol anywhere on my meal plan! However, like most people, I enjoy an occasional glass of wine to celebrate a specific occasion.

I try to live by the general rule of everything in moderation. Moderate drinking is defined by the Center for Disease Control as no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men.

A drink is defined as 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine or 1.5 oz of alcohol/spirits. If your goal is fat loss and/or building muscle, you will want to further limit your alcohol consumption to one to two drinks per week.

A late night of drinking can most definitely sabotage your attempts at obtaining the body of your dreams. How can you possibly expect to wake up the next day after a night of partying and have an awesome workout with a hangover and a bloated tummy?

Alcohol is also known to lower your inhibitions and this can lead to major cheats on your clean eating meal plan. I don’t know many drunk people who reach for grilled chicken and broccoli after a night of boozing! Most often the post-bar fare involves some form of greasy take out! The bottom line is: if you booze, you won’t lose (weight)!

☺ Gillian