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How to stay in shape while drinking alcohol regularly? (bodybuilding)

Published: Tue 6th December 2016

Me while in Ibiza drinking regularly and training just twice per week

me on holiday in ibiza

Suppose, as a lifter, you eat a standard macronutrient split. E.g. 30/50/20, which means 30% protein, 50% carbohydrates, 20% fat. (Roughly – this blog isn't for a pro bodybuilder/athlete, but more for those who want to enjoy life).


On a 3000kcal / day diet, this would be 225g protein, 375g carb, 67g of fat. But you want to drink alcohol - you want a big night out(s), or you want a few beers every night. The only thing you can really do, from my experience, is to deduct the alcohol calories from carbs, or maybe fat intake.


Or, if it’s an occasional blowout, you can just blow your caloric budget for the day then make up for it the next day intermittently fasting until around 4 pm.


Or, finally, you can just stack the alcohol calories on top of your normal food and get fat then cut later when summer comes around. In a pint of lager, there are about 250kcal and 700kcal in a bottle of wine. With 375g carbs, you have 1500kcal of carbs to eat per day, so it can be done, even on a heavy night out. (For simplicity, I won’t talk about the metabolic caloric expenditure of the four (yes four, ethanol is the 4th macro with 7kcal per g) macros. Yes, alcohol has a different mechanism of energy storage/expenditure, but for simplicity here let’s consider a calorie a calorie rather than turn this into a four-pager). What’s the main problem with this? Alcohol won’t replenish muscular glycogen the way carbohydrates do.


So, if you do this a lot you’ll look small, less full and flat, and be weaker in the gym. Then one day you’ll “carb up” and your friends will say “Man, you look big today”. But, at least you won’t get fat. You’ll also want a decent multivitamin to avoid malnutrition if you drink chronically. If you’re a girl/guy who doesn’t lift but wants to stay lean, you probably just deduct the calories from total expenditure – that’s harshly titled alcorexia or drunkorexia.


The fact is, when I am drinking regularly I will always notice some strength loss and body fat gain. Believe me, I’ve tried for years to find the perfect way around this, but my best conclusion is: If drinking alcohol, reduce the caloric intake from carbohydrate and leave fat/protein the same.


Of course, when you’re in party mode, this is the last kind of thing you want to think about. But it’s a necessary evil if you drink regularly and want to stay aesthetic year-round IMO. Or, you can bulk and cut when it's beach time. It's your call.


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