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To Toast or Not?

The impact of alcohol on your fitness goals.

Hey Guys,
I’m really trying to lose some weight and get fit, so what’s the deal with drinking alcohol? I’ve read that a few glasses of red wine can actually help your overall health. Should I imbibe?

Jennifer Daily
Old Metairie

Most fitness professionals will tell you that a few drinks won’t have a huge detrimental impact on your fitness goals; and I know there are studies showing the benefits of drinking wine in moderation.

However, I tell my clients to look at it this way: Drinking alcohol won’t stop you from getting fit, but it will make it harder. How much depends on how much you consume.

First of all, most people know that just one glass of wine or one shot of liquor can be around 150 calories, but they forget to add them up at the end of a night. A few glasses of wine and a cocktail can easily add up to over 500 calories.

Alcohol dehydrates, and water, while being part of general good health, is also important to muscle building, so you have to make sure you compensate.

Many people think these extra calories are responsible for a “beer belly,” but studies show that less than 5 percent of alcoholic calories are turned into fat. The main problem with alcohol is that it reduces the body’s ability to burn fat. One study found that after only two vodka and lemonades in one hour, the body’s ability to burn fat decreased by 73 percent. Then add to that the fact that alcohol makes you hungrier and more vulnerable to unhealthy, calorific choices.

Alcohol also impairs the body’s ability to synthesize protein, which is vital for muscle development and maintenance. Increased muscle mass helps to speed up the body’s ability to burn fat and calories. Therefore less muscle equals less calorie burning.

It is also worth noting that some of “best bodies” as perceived by the media are those of people who don’t drink. Jennifer Lopez, Blake Lively and Natalie Portman reportedly all abstain.

At the end of the day, you can feel the impact of alcohol when you work out, so listen to your body and make up for the indulgence.

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