Let’s face it, partying is fun. Going out with friends, meeting new people, getting into shenanigans, and creating stories you will tell for years has a special place in the hearts of so many. However, this lifestyle can radically hinder our progress and results when we are trying to transform our body and health - especially when it comes to weight loss. In this article I will talk a bit about my experience with partying and how I was able to fit it in with my weight loss journey, we will learn what alcohol is and how our body processes it, and lastly we will go over 5 ways to practice damage control and bounce back after a night or weekend of partying. Cheers.
If you know me from my past life, you know partying was my M.O. for quite some time. I went to Saint Cloud State University for 2 and a half years and, honestly, was drunk at least 50% of the nights I spent living there. When I transferred schools, one of the biggest reasons was to find a better environment for my health journey where partying wasn’t an everyday thing. I learned quickly that the environment did not make nearly as much of a difference as did my mindset and strategies to both stay on track and get back to business after a weekend of debauchery. Before we get into those strategies and mindset shifts, let’s discover what alcohol is and how it affects our bodies.
Alcohol is (tEcHnIcAlLy…) a macronutrient (alongside fats, carbohydrates, and proteins). Alcohol is dense when it comes to calories (7 calories per gram), but completely devoid of nutritional value and lacks any micronutrients. In fact, alcohol inhibits the body’s ability to break down and utilize other nutrients and even depletes vitamin stores within the body, notably vitamins A and B12 (1). If you want to know more about how exactly alcohol is broken down in the body, check out this informative and fun video detailing the process.
Look, I am not going to sugar coat this shit for you. Alcohol is THE worst thing we can put in our bodies if our goal is to build muscle and lose body fat. Beyond the fact it messes with our digestion, alcohol inhibits our decision making which can lead to overindulging in foods that we typically would not eat when we are focused on letting go of excess body fat and increasing muscle.
Even though I rarely party or consume alcohol anymore, the things I learned still apply when I do have a night out, and they will help you stay on track with your health and fitness goals, too. Below are my 5 ways to make partying fit into your new lifestyle while continuing to make progress towards your goals.
1. Have a plan in place: Now, I know what you are thinking. Once I start drinking I am not going to give a fuck about a plan. This may be true, but if we create a plan beforehand it will at least permeate our subconscious enough so that it will be top of mind as we are making decisions throughout the experience. So, even if we can’t stick to it 100%, it is still important to plan out what you intend to do beforehand. Here are some things to keep in mind
a. Consider how many calories you will consume during the night and plan accordingly. If this means you need to hold back a bit during the day, then do just that.
b. Be strategic about the types of calories you are consuming: We know alcohol is going to fuck with the nutrients we consume and leave us in a void. Because of this, fill up on foods high in protein and fiber as well as dense in vitamins and nutrients (all the the recipes in my Free Easy Recipes Guide will do well for you).
2. Pick and choose your alcoholic beverages wisely: Don’t get me wrong, I love a hoppy, delicious IPA just as much as the next long haired guy out there. That said, IPAs may be some of the absolute worst alcoholic beverages we can drink when it comes to building muscle and losing weight. Check out my Healthy Drinking Guide PDF to get an understanding of what exactly you are consuming and how to make it fit with your goals.
3. Damage control the day after. This right here is the most real advice I can give you and THE thing that made the biggest difference for me when I was partying while getting fit. The day after drinking is something we all know too well. As far as my experience has shown me, there are two personas you will fall into after a night of drinking.
a. The Beached Whale: This person wakes up and decides that the only place they can exist for the day is in their bed. They have no appetite, no desire to move, and low key might wish they were actually a whale instead of a hungover human. Getting up and going is an absolute task and the idea of going in public is enough to turn your phone off for the day.
i. The best advice I can give to this person is to GET UP AND MOVE YOUR BODY. Go for a walk, do some light stretching, even just walking up and down the stairs a few times will help.
b. The Ravenous Hyena: This person (who I was) wakes up and is ready to devour literally anything in sight. They are going to text the group chat and ask where brunch is repeatedly until at least one other person agrees to go with them. Once at brunch, they want a cinnamon roll, pancakes, eggs, bacon, toast, hash browns, a latte, and a bloody mary with a mich golden chaser.
i. The best advice I can give to this person is to FAST, i.e. do not eat food, have some water with lemon or lime juice and a pinch of salt, and get outside and move your body. Trust me when I say that hunger you feel is not real, it’s the come down from the alcohol.
4. Water. TO put this simply, you need to be hydrating constantly to get back on track ASAP. Your liver and kidneys need to replenish the water that is being flushed out in favor of alcohol, and the longer it takes for you to get adequate water, the longer the recovery road will be. My best advice is to mix in 1 water per 1 drink the night of, and to DOUBLE the amount of water you typically drink on the day after a night out. Hydration is our friend always, but it is even more crucial when we drink alcohol.
5. Practice guilt free indulgence responsibly. To keep it real, drinking is a fun way to relax and socialize with friends and family. It is an integral part of our society and although there are movements towards more alcohol free lifestyles, the reality is that drinking will always be a part of our culture. So, at the end of the day, have a plan, be strategic, but most importantly don’t beat yourself up about it. Get right back on track the next day and you will be just fine.
**If you or a loved one is having trouble with alcohol consumption or abuse, please seek out support from a licensed professional**
If you haven’t yet, check out my Healthy Drinking Guide PDF to get an understanding of what you are drinking and to create a plan for your night out. And, as always, feel free to reach out to me with questions or comments.
- Alcohol and Nutrition. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa22.htm