Ask your average Joe about alcohol and he’ll likely tell you it’s a necessity for winding down after a stressful day. Ask grandma, and she’ll fall over even thinking about you considering taking a sip of that Devil’s Brew. Pose the same question to the super serious bro at the gym with his gallon jug and skin tight tank top, and there’s no way he’s going anywhere near that aesthetics annihilator.

For those of you reading this, you’re likely somewhere in between these schools of thought. You realize alcohol isn’t exactly “healthy,” but then again- life’s pretty short. However, if you’re like most people- the specific effects of alcohol aren’t exactly clear, and knowing how exactly to balance your social and gym life can be a challenge.

I’ve teamed up with the BioLayne crew to provide you with a full breakdown of how alcohol is metabolized in the body, its effects on physique and performance, and strategies to help decide how to best enjoy nights out with friends while keeping your physique, and health, in mind, and don’t worry… we won’t tell Memaw.


Physiology and Metabolism

To fully appreciate the effects of alcohol, it’s important to first consider just what alcohol contains, and how the body processes it. Just as protein, carbs and fat contain different caloric values and metabolic requirements for digestion, so too does alcohol. Realizing the cascade of events and demands required by the body upon alcohol consumption can lend to better understanding of why it’s so important to determine how, if any, alcohol should be incorporated in day-to-day life.

Hidden Calories

It should first be noted that contrary to many fitness info-graphics, calories aren’t solely derived from protein, carbohydrate and fats. Alcohol is another significant contributor, and actually comes in at a whopping 7 calories per gram. Considering fat contains 9 calories per gram, and the fact alcohol is so easy to consume, this alone helps to explain why weight gain is so quick to occur with regular drinking. You wouldn’t drink fat by the glass for fear of sudden weight gain, so keeping in mind that alcohol isn’t much different than the caloric value of fat can help put each mixed drink in perspective for physique-conscious individuals.

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