Saturday, July 17, 2010

The truth about alcohol, fat loss and muscle growth

I've been getting tons of questions relating to alcohol and fat loss lately. Happens every time summer rolls around. Outdoor parties, clubbing, vacations and the whole shebang. Alcohol is a key ingredient. What people want to know is basically how fattening alcohol is, how it affects protein synthesis, how to make it work with their diet, and what drinks to go for at the club.

I think this is very good topic to cover today, since we're right in the middle of summer and all, because most people involved in the fitness and health game tend to miss out on a lot of fun due to avoiding alcohol. I know a lot of peeps who'd rather stay home and manage their diet than go out and have a few drinks. Sad, really, because it's all for the wrong reasons. I don't blame them though. Read the mags or listen to the "experts" and you'll soon be believing that a few drinks will make your muscles fall off, make you impotent, and leave you with a big gut. It's mostly bullshit, of course. No big surprise when we're dealing with the alarmist fitness mainstream that can't seem to put things in the right perspective if their life depended on it.

This is a definitive primer on the effects of alcohol on all things someone interested in optimizing body composition might be interested in. At the end of this article I'm also going to show you how a hopeless drunk like myself can stay lean while drinking on a regular basis.





C'mere and lemme me tell you my secretz...*hick*


Alcohol and thermogenesis


There's been an ongoing debate for years whether alcohol calories "count" or not. This debate has been spurred on by the fact that drinkers weigh less than non-drinkers and studies showing accelerated weight loss when fat and carbs are exchanged for an equivalent amount of calories from alcohol. The connection between a lower body weight and moderate alcohol consumption is particularly strong among women. In men it's either neutral or weak, but it's there.

How can this be explained, considering that alcohol is a close second to dietary fat in terms of energy density per gram? Not to mention the fact that alcohol is consumed via liquids, which doesn't do much for satiety?

Alcohol is labeled as 7.1 calories per gram, but the real value is more along the lines of 5.7 calories due to the thermic effect of food (TEF) which is 20% of the ingested calories. This makes the TEF of alcohol a close second to protein (20-35% depending on amino acid composition). The heightened thermogenesis resulting from alcohol intake is partly mediated by catecholamines.

Is higher TEF a reasonable explanation for lower body fat percentage in regular drinkers? We need to consider that alcohol does not affect satiety like other nutrients. The disinhibition of impulse control that follows intoxication may also encourage overeating. Ever come home from a party in the middle of the night and downed a box of cereals? That's what I mean.

It's unlikely that the effect of alcohol on body weight in the general population can be attributed solely to the high TEF of alcohol. An alternative explanation is that alcohol consumption decreases food intake in the long term.

Another explanation is that regular alcohol consumption affects nutrient partitioning favorably via improvements in insulin sensitivity.


Alcohol, insulin sensitiviy and health


Moderate alcohol consumption improves insulin sensitivity, lowers triglyceride concentrations and improves glycemic control. Not only in healthy folks, but also in type 2 diabetes. There is no clear consensus on the insulin sensitizing mechanism of alcohol, but one viable explanation may be that alcohol promotes leanness by stimulating AMPK in skeletal muscle. It's not a stretch to assume that this might have favorable effects on nutrient partitioning in the longer term.

If the effect of alcohol consumption on insulin sensitivity doesn't impress you, then consider the fact that studies have consistently shown that moderate drinkers live longer than non-drinkers. This can be mainly attributed to a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease. However, alcohol also contributes to a healthier and disease-free life by protecting against Alzheimer's disease, metabolic syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, the common cold, different types of cancers, depression and many other Western diseases. The list goes on and on.

It can almost be said beyond doubt that moderate alcohol consumption is healthier than complete abstinence. With this in mind, it's strange that the fitness and health community shun alcohol. This irrational attitude seems to be grounded in the beliefs that alcohol is fattening and will hamper muscle gains. So let's take a look at that.


Alcohol, hormones and training

You've probably heard that alcohol intake lowers testosterone. While this is true, the actual impact has been widely exaggerated. A three-week study that had men and women consume 30-40 g alcohol per day, showed a 6.8% reduction in testosterone for the men and none for the women at the end of the study-period. That's three beers a day for three weeks and a measly 6.8% reduction in testosterone for the men. What kind of an effect would you think a few beers on an evening once or twice a week would have? Hardly any.

For alcohol to significantly lower testosterone, you need to do some serious drinking. ~120 g alcohol, the equivalent of 10 beers, will lower testosterone by 23% for up to 16 hours after the drinking binge. If you drink so goddamn much that you are admitted to the hospital, you get a similar effect with a reduction of about -20%.

A few studies have looked at alcohol consumption in the post-workout period. One study examined the hormonal response to post-workout alcohol consumption using 70-80 g alcohol, equivalent to 6-7 beers. Talk about "optimizing" nutrient timing. Anyway, despite this hefty post-workout drinking binge, no effect on testosterone was found and only a very modest effect on cortisol was noted. The latter is as expected, considering the effect of alcohol on catecholamines. Citing directly from this paper, this quote sums up the scientific findings regarding the effects of alcohol on testosterone:

"Although the majority of studies involving humans show no ethanol effect on serum luteinizing hormone (LH), some data have demonstrated an increase while others have supported a decrease"

- Koziris LP, et al (2000).

It seems that the fitness mainstream, which has been most adamant about propagating the "alcohol-zaps-testosterone-myth", have cherry-picked a bunch of studies to base their claims on. Well, no big surprise there. We've been through this many times before with meal frequency and countless other diet myths.

When it comes to recovery after strength training, moderate alcohol consumption (60-90 g alcohol) does not accelerate exercise-induced muscle damage or affect muscle strength.

However, the research is a bit mixed on this topic. One study, which used a very brutal regimen of eccentric training only, followed by alcohol intakes in the 80 g range (1 g/kg) noted impaired recovery in the trained muscles. I should note that eccentric training is hard to recover from and the volume used here was pretty crazy.

Another study looked at exhaustive endurance training followed by post-workout alcohol intakes in the 120 g range (1.5 g/kg) and saw significant suppression of testosterone that carried over to the next day.

The common denominator among these two studies is either extremely tough training or unusually high alcohol intakes in the post-workout period. Unless you're in the habit of going bar-hopping after 50 reps of eccentric leg extensions to failure, this stuff does not apply to you. Yet it's studies like these that gets the attention among the alcohol-alarmist fitness crowd.

What about protein synthesis? Strangely enough, the acute effects of alcohol on muscle protein synthesis in normal human subjects are non-existent in the scientific litterature. It has only been studied in chronic alcoholics, which have reduced rates of muscle protein synthesis. Chronic alcoholic myopathy, which causes muscle loss, is one unfortunate side-effect of alcohol abuse. However, this study showed that alcoholics without myopathy had lower body fat percentage and the same amount of lean mass as non-drinkers. So much for the argument that alcohol makes all your muscles fall off.

If you put any stock in rat studies, it's clear that alcohol affects protein synthesis negatively. Then again, results from rat studies are almost never directly applicable to human physiology. There are profound differences in how humans and rodents cope with macronutrients and toxins.



Absolut Turnover is is my favorite drink right now. You need a shot of Absolut Vanilia and one lime wedge dipped in cinnamon and brown sugar. Drink, bite and enjoy.


Alcohol and fat storage

Let's quickly review how nutrients are stored and burned after a mixed meal.

1. Carbs and protein suppress fat oxidation via an elevation in insulin. However, these macronutrients do not contribute to fat synthesis in any meaningful way by themselves.

2. Since fat oxidation is suppressed, dietary fat is stored in fat cells.

3. As the hours go by and insulin drops, fat is released from fat cells. Fat storage is an ongoing process and fatty acids are constantly entering and exiting fat cells throughout the day. Net gain or loss is more or less dictated by calorie input and output.

If we throw alcohol into the mix, it gets immediate priority in the in the substrate hierarchy: alcohol puts the breaks on fat oxidation, but also suppresses carb and protein oxidation.

This makes sense considering that the metabolic by-product of alcohol, acetate, is toxic. Metabolizing it takes precedence over everything else. This quote sums up the metabolic fate of alcohol nicely:

"Ethanol (alcohol) is converted in the liver to acetate; an unknown portion is then activated to acetyl-CoA, but only a small portion is converted to fatty acids.
Most of the acetate is released into the circulation, where it affects peripheral tissue metabolism; adipocyte release of nonesterified fatty acids is decreased and acetate replaces lipid in the fuel mixture."

- Hellerstein MK, et al (1999).

Acetate in itself is an extremely poor precursor for fat synthesis. There's simply no metabolic pathway that can make fat out of alcohol with any meaningful efficiency. Studies on fat synthesis after substantial alcohol intakes are non-existent in humans, but Hellerstein(from quotation) estimated de novo lipogenesis after alcohol consumption to ~3%. Out of the 24 g alcohol consumed in this study, a measly 0.8 g fat was synthesized in the liver.

The effect of alcohol on fat storage is very similar to that of carbs: by suppressing fat oxidation, it enables dietary fats to be stored with ease. However, while conversion of carbs to fat may occur once glycogen stores are saturated, DNL via alcohol consumption seems less likely.


Summary

* Moderate alcohol consumption is assocoiated with an abundance of health benefits. The long-term effect on insulin sensitivity and body weight (via insulin or decreased appetite) may be of particular interest to us.

* The thermic effect of alcohol is high and the real caloric value is not 7.1 kcal: it's ~5.6 kcal. However, it's still easy to overconsume calories by drinking. Calorie for calorie, the short-term effect of alcohol on satiety is low. Adding to this, intoxication may also encourage overeating by disinhibition of dietary restraint.

* The negative effects of alcohol on testosterone and recovery has been grossly exaggerated by the fitness mainstream. Excluding very high acute alcohol consumption, or prolonged and daily consumption, the effect is non-significant and unlikely to affect muscle gains or training adaptations negatively.

* The effect of alcohol on muscle protein synthesis is unknown in normal human subjects. It is not unlikely to assume that a negative effect exists, but it is very unlikely that it is of such a profound magnitude that some people would have you believe.

* Alcohol is converted to acetate by the liver. The oxidation of acetate takes precedence over other nutrients and is oxidized to carbon dioxide and water. However, despite being a potent inhibitor of lipolysis, alcohol/acetate alone cannot cause fat gain by itself. It's all the junk people eat in conjunction with alcohol intake that causes fat gain.


How to lose fat or prevent fat gain when drinking

Now that you understand the effect of alcohol on substrate metabolism, it's time for me to reveal how you can make alcohol work for fat loss. Alternatively, how you can drink on a regular basis without any fat gain. Without having to count calories and while drinking as much as you want.

Apply this method exactly as I have laid it out. If you've paid attention, you'll understand the rationale behind it. I've tested this on myself and on numerous clients. Rest assured that I'm not testing out some large-scale bizarre experiment here.

The rules are as follows:

* For this day, restrict your intake of dietary fat to 0.3 g/kg body weight (or as close to this figure as possible).

* Limit carbs to 1.5 g/kg body weight. Get all carbs from veggies and the tag-along carbs in some protein sources. You'll also want to limit carbohydrate-rich alcohol sources such as drinks made with fruit juices and beer. A 33 cl/12 fl oz of beer contains about 12 g carbs, while a regular Cosmopolitan is about 13 g.

* Good choices of alcohol include dry wines which are very low carb, clocking in at about 0.5-1 g per glass (4 fl oz/115ml). Sweet wines are much higher at 4-6 g per glass. Cognac, gin, rum, scotch, tequila, vodka and whiskey are all basically zero carbs. Dry wines and spirits is what you should be drinking, ideally. Take them straight or mixed with diet soda. (No need to be super-neurotic about this stuff. Drinks should be enjoyed after all. Just be aware that there are better and worse choices out there).

* Eat as much protein as you want. Yes, that's right. Ad libitum. Due to the limit on dietary fat, you need to get your protein from lean sources. Protein sources such as low fat cottage cheese, protein powder, chicken, turkey, tuna, pork and egg whites are good sources of protein this day.

* For effective fat loss, this should be limited to one evening per week. Apply the protocol and you will lose fat on a weekly basis as long as your diet is on point for the rest of the week.

Basically, the nutritional strategy I have outlined here is all about focusing on substrates that are least likely to cause net synthesis of fat during hypercaloric conditions. Alcohol and protein, your main macronutrients this day, are extremely poor precursors for de novo lipogenesis. Alcohol suppresses fat oxidation, but by depriving yourself of dietary fat during alcohol consumption, you won't be storing anything. Nor will protein cause any measurable de novo lipogenesis. High protein intake will also compensate for the weak effect of alcohol on satiety and make you less likely to blow your diet when you're drinking.

By the way, a nice bonus after a night of drinking is that it effectively rids you of water retention. You may experience the "whoosh"-effect, which I've talked about in my two-part series about water retention. That in itself can be motivating for folks who've been experiencing a plateau in their weight loss.

Apply this with good judgement and don't go out and do something stupid now. Remember, this a short-term strategy for those that want to be able to drink freely* without significantly impacting fat loss progress or causing unwanted fat gain. It's not something I encourage people to do on a daily basis, but it's one of the strategies that I apply for maintaining low body fat for myself and my clients.

* Now of course...you can always drink in moderation and make sure to not go over your calorie budget for the day. But what fun is there in that? I'd rather cheat the system with the kind metabolic mischief I've layed out above.

173 comments:

  1. Wonder how many people are going to go out drinking over the next couple of nights because they have the ultimate strategy now haha...

    Good read

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  2. This is one of the greatest things I have seen on the internet. I'm so grateful there are experts like yourself offering a sane approach to fitness, back by abundant research.

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  3. Interesting ideas. But damn, that fat intake is low. What made you decide on that .3g/kg figure? Anything specifically or just after quite a bit of experimentation on yourself and others?

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  4. Fantastic article and perfect timing. I rarely go out and was planning on going out tonight. I will in fact put this into practice effectively TONIGHT. Cheers!

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  5. Awesome article Martin. Hands down the best read on alcohol ever IMHO! Will put your strategies in use asap lol. Thanks again for making such great information available!

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  6. Thanks for that, kinda ties up some of yours and Lyle's stuff into a workable way of living and progressing during the fun months.

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  7. Another fantastic article. There's so much good information here.

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  8. You're the man, seriously. I'm having trouble waiting patiently for that book.

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  9. 5 star article, Martin! I echo the sentiments about your book - I can hardly contain myself:)

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  10. Good analysis!

    Now when can we expect a similar breakdown of the effects of more, uh, "herbal" vices?

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  11. F'n Brilliant that was...one of the first science based arguments for drinking and optimal health i've seen.

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  12. Great article, thanks.

    Slight technical question. Are all red wines considered dry and therefore OK for your drinking plan?

    I'm assuming its just white wines to watch out for, but I know things can be labelled differently depending on where you are in the world.

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  13. Great article yet again Martin! Love how much research you put in your work.

    Just wondering what your opinion is on this study showing that 24g of alcohol reduces release of fatty acids into the blood stream by 53% and lowers whole body lipid oxidation by 73%? De novo lipogenesis, lipid kinetics, and whole-body lipid balances in humans after acute alcohol consumption1,2,3

    The reason I ask is that this is the study most people quote when discusing alcohol and training.

    Keep up the good work mate!

    -Paleo_Rob

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  14. Glad you guys enjoyed the article.

    Tauren,

    "Are all red wines considered dry and therefore OK for your drinking plan?"

    No, there are sweet red wines as well.

    Paleo Rob,

    That study was cited in the article. It showed that alcohol consumption suppressed fat oxidation but caused minimal DNL (~3%).

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  15. Perfect article for Saturday.

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  16. Cool, i dont drink, but from time to time i tend to eat... chocolate - and not the uber dark one- im not talking crazy amounts here, so refined sugar. the evil. 1) what should i do that day in order to minimize unwanted fat gain? prolong my fast? limit fat, and protein? is there a best time to eat this junk? / before after my workout? btw im really lean, and i work out fasted / eat one " paleo bs" meal per day, but my girlfriend loves to eat that shit and eventually it gets me. please dont say eat vegetables, cant stand them.

    thanks

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  17. A whole day of protein followed by a night of binge drinking. man o man can you imagine how you'd smell the next day... hah!

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  18. Martin, what is your opinion on this "alternative" approach:

    - Protein ad libitum
    - Extended fast (20 -22h)
    - No fat or carbohydrates (only traces)

    Basically a one all-you-can eat protein meal.

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  19. Great article. Love the amount of references you always use. Beats the shit out of reading the abundance of bro-trainers out there

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  20. You are an inspiration by counteracting the hyped up things that are going on in the training and fitness industry, with articles like these.

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  21. Cool, very interesting stuff. I must thank you for finally clearing this whole topic up as there is so much trash on the web. As someone who likes to get crunk once a week this is good news.

    I would like to know your opinion on having 1 glass of wine or a small beer with a large mixed meal, do you think this will have any effect on fat storage etc if consumed a few times per week? Or is the level of alchohol too small to blunt protein and fat utilisation by the body for any significant amount of time?

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  22. Martin,

    Thanks again for an excellent article. I've read some of your ideas about this subject in comments on other articles, but this sums it up pretty good.

    Anyway, still have 1 question: after a night of alcohol I go back to my diet the day after, where I sometimes keep carbs and fat low, protein high. Basically the same as the alcohol day. Any suggestions on this? Is this beneficial in any way or can I just go back to the 'normal' diet the day after drinking?

    Only thing I have to change is drink less beer and maybe switch to vodka/gin, I'll give it a try :)

    Thanks again Martin!

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  23. Thank you for providing a voice of reason and sanity.

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  24. Great article Martin. I like the idea of your approach for having a few drinks and staying lean.

    For days when I only feel like one drink at night fitted in with my calorie budget, should I take it as 5.7 calories per gram?

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  25. So, taking in alcohol (vodka, so no tag along carbs/fat/protein) does break the fast?

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  26. martin,

    great article! i've got quite a few of these aces up my sleeve now just from reading your blog... thx

    lucas,

    imo, the only difference would be the time of the nutrient consumption. what is eaten that day is important, not necessarily when. if the 22 hour fast suits you, why not?

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  27. Martin, you've still got it...this reminds me of a Dos Equis print ad! "Stay thirst my friend"

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  28. This is a superb post Martin, as your posts usually are.

    One question:

    You seemed to imply that insulin stimulates adipocytes to store dietary fat, but not convert glucose to fat.

    Am I correct in my interpretation?

    I ask because I think that adipocytes produce fat from glucose, which is absorbed into fat cells through the GLUT-4 receptor (which is also present in muscle cells).

    Based on this, one could get fat consuming a lot of carbs, even if no dietary fat is ingested. There is also the conversion of fiber to fat by gut flora, but that is another matter.

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  29. Dear Martin:

    First off, thank you for including some formulas on how to work out "the numbers".

    But, 0.3 g/kg of fat? Wow, that's low... I'm a short guy (5'5"), weighing in at 64kg. That's only 19.2g fat in a day; even with the leanest meats, I can't see a way of keeping the fat levels that low. I burn roughly 2800 calories a day, so that just over 6% of my daily calories to go toward fat.

    Is there another equation, perhaps a percent amount of daily calories, or a hard minimum daily fat intake in grams?

    All thanks,

    Matt

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  30. Chris,

    "I would like to know your opinion on having 1 glass of wine or a small beer with a large mixed meal, do you think this will have any effect on fat storage etc if consumed a few times per week?"

    Any amount of alcohol will blunt lipolysis. Dose-response. In a mixed diet, total calorie intake is what matters.

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  31. Anon,

    "For days when I only feel like one drink at night fitted in with my calorie budget, should I take it as 5.7 calories per gram?"

    You could do that. Won't matter much in any case.

    Miknal,

    "So, taking in alcohol (vodka, so no tag along carbs/fat/protein) does break the fast?"

    Yes. Or not, depending on your definition of the fasted state. Ethanol by itself is not insulinogenic.

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  32. Ned,

    Thanks.

    "You seemed to imply that insulin stimulates adipocytes to store dietary fat, but not convert glucose to fat. Am I correct in my interpretation?"

    Insulin blunts lipolysis which enables fat storage, but dietary fat can store itself just fine with minimal insulin (basal/fasted).

    "I ask because I think that adipocytes produce fat from glucose, which is absorbed into fat cells through the GLUT-4 receptor (which is also present in muscle cells)."

    Reference?

    "Based on this, one could get fat consuming a lot of carbs, even if no dietary fat is ingested."

    Yes, but the primary mechanism for that is DNL via chronically high carb diets.

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  33. Matt,

    "I can't see a way of keeping the fat levels that low"

    Read again.

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  34. Perfect timing for this article! In conclusion, I have to stop drinking 4-5 times a week! lol. Now I know what to do on days that I am planning on going out. Ahh Alcohol, my weakness.

    Great article, thanks again.

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  35. Hi Martin.

    Here is a reference in support of the GLUT-4 comment:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11237212

    > ... the primary mechanism for that is DNL via chronically high carb diets.

    I agree.

    And yes, dietary fat makes its way much more easily into body fat cells.

    So the GLUT-4 mediated effect may indeed be minor in the context you described.

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  36. Martin,

    Did any of the studies look at the effect of alcohol itself, or just alcholic drinks? If the latter, couldn't the benefit come from something else in the beverage besides alcohol?

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  37. Great article and really answered a lot of questions that I had regarding alcohol. A couple questions I had are what are the effects of alcohol consumption of vitamins and minerals? Do they destroy them like some gurus suggest. And if someone was going to start drinking at say 6 pm, what would be the best time to have the last meal before starting drinking.

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  38. Glad to see the article is finally up, appreciate you writing it.

    I'm curious though, as far as the day after a night of excessive drinking, should one's diet still be protein/veggies? Since, unless I'm mistaken, the body could still be dealing the alcohol?

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  39. This is awesome due to the fact that alcohol is fun, thanks bro.

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  40. fuck alcohol, what about chocolate? does anybody have an answer to my fkn question? fuckn hell... om nom nom, ahh nevermind > HIIT time fukers

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  41. I don't care much for alcohol. Is there a way to get away with eating 3 times what I normally do (binging)?

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  42. re: men vs women.

    There's a cultural difference as well. Men tend to eat besides their drinking, where women tend to drink instead of eating.

    (apart from the fact that alcohol seems to increase testosterone in women and decreases it in men http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11912073)

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  43. if you drank 1 glass of wine every hour for 24 hours, each glass was 80 cals that would be 1920 cals (assuming you didn't eat). That would be a constant supply of acetate fuel for your body & fat oxidation would be nil, given that 1920 cals is less than normal daily intake for a man you would have to loose weight the question is how the fuck would you burn the fat? a similar scenario would be someone who eats sugar every hour & has constant elevated insulin (or a diabetic) if insulin is always raised & fat oxidation is nil & there is a calorie deficit how the fuck do you burn the fat? anyway a bit of a ramble .. my main q is can i just have half a bottle of red wine a night & be lean in your opinion or is this always too much ..

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  44. Hope you don't mind, Martin, but I put up a link to this article on my blog: http://confessionsofacrossfitcoach.blogspot.com/2010/07/magical-magnesium-healthy-alcohol-24.html

    Very well done, keep up the excellent work.

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  45. Martin

    What's your take on 7-keto supplement? I'm thinking of stacking it together with the VPX Meltdown! Is it throwing money in the garbage or actually worth a try?

    I'm in the lower % of BF and basicly trying to get rid of the last stubborn bodyfat(IF'ing).

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  46. Great post, I'm glad I can find good and thorough information on this site. I don't drink Alcohol, how much is this going to affect my life span and risk of heart disease?

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  47. Great information. I'm not a big drinker any more but it's certainly good to know that there's a strategy built around alcohol consumption.

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  48. Good Post. I like your strat, but I dont agree with this encouragement to drinking.
    Tell young people they can't drink at all, and they usually end up drinking a few beers.
    Tell young people that they can drink a few beers, and they will usually end up getting wasted.
    I am not saying that you should tell people not to drink at all, but I think that your post invites people to drink a little too much.

    You talked about getting rid of water.
    The kind of dehydration a fun night out in town will cause is bad for muscle gain.
    And you did not mention hangovers, which I believe is the biggest problem with drinking.
    Sleep-quality were poor, you're tired, and you're a bit dehydrated which causes a headache.
    This results in skipping the workout and being indifferent about what you eat.

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  49. Hi Martin!

    I liked your article. Very informative.

    Just one short question: Your strategy concerns the day of the alcohol consumption. Is there any strategy to follow the next day, i.e. when I wake up and have to sober up?

    Keep up your nice work,
    Cheers, Max

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  50. We really need something on overfeeding too.

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  51. Interesting post.

    One thing I thought worth pointing out - 120 grams of alcohol is only 10 beers if you are drinking some rather weak stuff. Some back of the envelope suggests 3-4 beers will hit this if you are drinking, say, Dogfish Head 90 Minute, or a barleywine.

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  52. I'd look forward to an article about the impact of sex on testosterone levels, Martin.

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  53. Martin,

    Would these recommendations change for a workout day vs a rest day?

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  54. Have you covered which formula is best for calculating daily caloric needs in your blog anywhere? Is there a best formula? For fat loss and for muscle gain?

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  55. Hey Martin-
    What do you think about super high carb low fat protocols for "maximum nutrient partitioning"?
    a la
    http://veganmaster.blogspot.com/2008_07_20_archive.html

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  56. What if I want to drink daily for the longevity benefits? Most of the research shows that daily moderate drinkers are the healthiest.

    Does that mean I will necessarily have to sacrifice body composition?

    Or could I fast in the morning and burn bodyfat then, and then have alcohol with my dinner when Im breaking my fast and probably not burning body fat anyway?

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  57. Bryan, re-read the last sentence of the post that is in italics

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  58. Neal,

    "Did any of the studies look at the effect of alcohol itself, or just alcholic drinks? If the latter, couldn't the benefit come from something else in the beverage besides alcohol?"

    Sure, i.e there's resveratrol/antioxidants in red wine & beer, and there's the social aspect to consider (moderate drinkers = more social = social people = liver longer due to having more friends/support etc). But ethanol by itself has some very interesting effects (mediated via acetate) that may protect against CVD.

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  59. Anon,

    "A couple questions I had are what are the effects of alcohol consumption of vitamins and minerals? Do they destroy them like some gurus suggest."

    No, that's mostly bs.

    "And if someone was going to start drinking at say 6 pm, what would be the best time to have the last meal before starting drinking."

    Whenever you want.

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  60. Rob,

    "I'm curious though, as far as the day after a night of excessive drinking, should one's diet still be protein/veggies? Since, unless I'm mistaken, the body could still be dealing the alcohol?"

    Blood alcohol concentration will be nil after a 16 hour fast and you can go back to your regular diet.

    Robert,

    "What's your take on 7-keto supplement?"

    Works for some older guys, useless for young guys.

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  61. I believe the 6.8% reduction in testosterone in the study was more likely to be due to hops in beer(a known estrogenic) and not due to alcohol.

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  62. Martin,
    Interesting that alcohol can be seen as acutely protein-sparing in the sense that it halts oxidation of all 3 macronutrients. Not that it would be a good basis for binge drinking, but good information to know.

    Question: You posted a link to Matt Stone's post about low-carb diets and lowered metabolic rate. I am wondering if metabolism is more affected by glycogen levels themselves or by the mere act of eating enough carbs to prevent the drop in thyroxine output.

    2 examples:

    1) What if I ate 150g of carbs prior to a completely glycogen-depleting training session? Would my metabolism still drop due to low glycogen? Or is it the fact that I ate enough carbs for the day that would prevent the drop? In other words, what if I did the training session first, followed by consumption of 150g of carbs? Now, those carbs would go toward glycogen resynthesis.

    2) Does the makeup of the carb matter? What if out of 120g of carbs I ate in a day, 50-75g of it was fructose? Now hepatic glycogen may be full for a while, but that doesn't leave much for muscle glycogen. Which glycogen tank is more intimately linked to the CHO-T3 axis?

    Thanks!

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  63. Martin,
    Sorry, I meant triiodothyronine (T3) output, not thyroxine.

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  64. Martin said "* Now of course...you can always drink in moderation and make sure to not go over your calorie budget for the day. But what fun is there in that? I'd rather cheat the system with the kind metabolic mischief I've layed out above."

    Having read your post carefully, I'm wondering if you do drink moderately and stay (more or less) within your calorie allowance, should you still pay attention to macronutrient percentages and reduce fat consumption and raise protein consumption given the way alcohol acts on fat oxidisation?

    Would appreciate some guideline on grams of fat and carbs per kilo of bodyweight if drinking say half a bottle of wine with a mixed meal in the evening.

    Thanks Martin.

    ReplyDelete
  65. Wow, tried this yesterday and I have to say it worked out extremely well. Keeping the fat as low as I did was difficult, especially with the typical "drinking foods" around, but all in all it worked out well. Woke up this morning dryed out and leaner than I was yesterday morning haha. Thanks Martin

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  66. Well written Martin.

    I say we collaborate on Drink Stop Drink... well, maybe we drop the 'stop' part.

    B

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  67. So basically is it, if you're going to drink, drop fat and raise protein?

    Where do carbs come into it?

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  68. What about trouble in ability to metabolize alcohol in fasting sate (lower acetaldehyde dehydrogenase enzyme)?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-d7PjWxf_sg&feature=PlayList&p=A1F713A28875E639&playnext=1&index=2 (~3 min in)

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  69. hello martin...awesome article btw..I have some q's:
    1.If I am bulking and trying to add mass, let's say my maintenance is 3000 kcal.
    I eat 3000 kcal from the diet and 500 from alchool. Will alchool impact the quality of my bulk ( negate gains/lower them?)

    2.let's say I am bulking ..If I drink alchool moderately in any day let's say 2,3,4 days a week...will it affect my gains?

    3.I'm interested too from where did you get the fat value of 0.3g/kb ( own experience w clients or some study)?

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  70. Martin, is it correct to assume that if you follow this method, you also get drunker faster?

    Sure seemed that way yesterday.

    Awesome stuff. I thank you.

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  71. Is there any physiological reason that people can sleep very little after a night of drinking and wake up feeling awesome and ready to go in the morning?

    Not always the case obviously, but I usually feel great if I don't sleep too much (also assuming I didn't drink TOO much - then the next day just sucks).

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  72. Yeah that Artic Zero stuff is alright. Not nearly as good as ice cream or gelato, though. Then again, I only tried vanilla and chocolate. Pumpkin spice sounds pretty bomb.

    Also, little worried about the one I tried, as it seemed like it had this "mystery sugar" in it containing a lot of fructose/lactose. the link you gave looked like it was cane sugar. I suppose that's better than pure fructose/lactose.

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  73. That was directed at Martin, btw

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  74. I heard about some requests wanting a translation of your article of the thermogenic diet. I had a couple of hours to kill so I did that. Would that be interesting?

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  75. Anon,

    "Question: You posted a link to Matt Stone's post about low-carb diets and lowered metabolic rate. I am wondering if metabolism is more affected by glycogen levels themselves or by the mere act of eating enough carbs to prevent the drop in thyroxine output."

    Good question. Metabolic rate is mainly controlled by leptin, which has downstream effects on thyroid output. However, there seems to be a secondary control mechanism in place, and this one is mainly controlled by feedback mechanisms mediated by liver glycogen content (and liver glycogen is closely correlated with leptin in the short term).

    It's also very likely that muscle glycogen and blood ketones play a role.

    That being said, it's hard to isolate one independent variable other than leptin. High leptin usually means high glycogen and low levels of blood ketones.

    Theoretical example where this would come into effect:

    Overweight on long term low carb or ketogenic diet

    = gradual depletion of glycogen

    = leptin still high, but not leptin resistant

    = downregulation of metabolic rate occurs, but is now mediated by glycogen and/or blood ketones (the former assumes low glycogen so it's whatever), and not leptin.

    Makes sense?

    I assume this answered your first question.

    "2) Does the makeup of the carb matter? What if out of 120g of carbs I ate in a day, 50-75g of it was fructose? Now hepatic glycogen may be full for a while, but that doesn't leave much for muscle glycogen. Which glycogen tank is more intimately linked to the CHO-T3 axis?"

    Actually, glucose + some fructose = faster muscle glycogen resynthesis vs glucose alone, according to the latest findings.

    As for which glycogen tank is more intimately linked to the cho-t3 axis, I don't think there's a clear consensus on that. It's hard to replete muscle glycogen without repleting liver glycogen - even after depletion workouts followed by pure glucose, the liver soaks up some carbs. Thus isolating the most important mediator is impossible in vivo.

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  76. Brad,

    "I say we collaborate on Drink Stop Drink... well, maybe we drop the 'stop' part."

    Sounds like a plan, sign me up.

    Anon,

    "Yeah that Artic Zero stuff is alright. Not nearly as good as ice cream or gelato, though. Then again, I only tried vanilla and chocolate. Pumpkin spice sounds pretty bomb."

    You can make some decent "ice cream" out of mixing casein powder with water in a 1:1.25-1.5 (casein/water) ratio. Mix, then put it in the fridge. Been eating that a lot this summer.

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  77. Anon,

    "I heard about some requests wanting a translation of your article of the thermogenic diet. I had a couple of hours to kill so I did that. Would that be interesting?"

    Yes, but please e-mail me at martinberkhan at gmail dot com.

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  78. Hi, Martin,
    I was the guy who had the CHO-T3/glycogen question. You answered it very eloquently. I was actually surprised you were able to pull that much from (I'm assuming) circumstantial evidence in the studies. Would you mind referring me to the abstract links?

    Given your response, I will have my carbs post-workout rather than pre. I can know with certainty that at least my liver glycogen will be depleted overnight. And as A2R inhibition occurs naturally with depleted glycogen, that's a plus! I'll now definitely throw fructose into the daily carb mix. Thanks, Martin!

    -Anonymous dude

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  79. Dear Martin.

    First post, long time reader, big fan.

    With regards to your protocol there's no mention of whether the alcohol is consumed on a workout day or a rest day.

    Would the macros change depending on such and would there be any preferred day for which to consume alcolhol?

    Is it better to paint the town red on a rest day or a work out day?

    Keep up the brilliant work and preorder me a copy of the book!

    Regards,

    Robert F.

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  80. I actually find that alcohol blunts my appetite in some sense. Of course, I don't get the feeling of fullness as with a meal, but it relaxes me and kind of "numbs" my hunger, so that I can enjoy socializing or doing whatever I'm doing without thinking about food.

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  81. Robert F,

    "Is it better to paint the town red on a rest day or a work out day?"

    Rest day ideally.

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  82. Quick question:

    Gin and tonic would be a great drink for this?

    And this dieting rule you lay out is only present on the day you drink right?

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  83. Another great article, Martin!

    I will probably not minimize my fat and carb intakes to the levels you recommend though, because I don't always know earlier in the day if I'm going to drink in the evening, and if I choose spirits with diet soda's as my main drinks, the amount of calories from the drinks are very low any way.. 100 g of alcohol will give around 600 calories - that's no big deal.

    If I have a planned party, I'll probably limit fat and carbs during the day, though.

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  84. Chris,

    Tonic contains carbs and would not be "ideal" in that sense (choose Diet Tonic if possible). Like I said, pure spirits are ideal but there's no need to be too obsessive about this and ruin your drinking experience.

    I frequently drink gin and tonic when I'm out. It's actually my default drink of choice when I can't make up my mind.

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  85. Martin, so when fitting a few drinks into the diet and trying to maintain a deficit (or working them into a hypercaloric diet) would you just substitute the ~5.7 cals for whatever carbohydrates you're eating and the overall net effect would be the same?

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  86. I'd just count the damn drinks as they are. Wouldn't worry about the 5.7 kcal figure either unless you're planning to revise your whole system and count protein as 3.2 kcal and carbs as 3.8 kcal.

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  87. just wanted to quickly post some real world results:
    so far, i've used the protocol 10+ times, sometimes planned, sometimes not ( i dig eating protein stuff and drinking afterwards anyway ) and it hasn't damaged my fat loss efforts at all. in fact, since i'm quite lean, i wake up looking dry as fuck and feel awesome ;)

    thx for the protocol, great work martin!

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  88. Yeah this definitely works, I've used it 5-6 times now and I still lose fat even when drinking hardcore on the weekends.

    Thanks for sharing this brilliant strategy, Martin!

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  89. I went on holiday to spain this summer and drank a lot (like massive binge drinking every other day) defnitely going past my caloric needs. But I ate relatively low fat (more carb and less protein that you would recommend). And at the end of the week, I had lost 2kg ! Now definitely some water but still, I didn't come back with a beer belly but rather with a better six-pack !! I definitely had a very strong woosh effect !

    Oh and by the way, I enjoyed your article with a good glass of wine ! ;)

    Martin V.

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  90. Great article!

    Glass of Jamesons in left hand.

    Craig G

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  91. Hey Martin, nice blogposts on a widley discussed matter! Just wanted to ask, I you can give me perimission to translate your post into german language and publish it on my own blogsite called aesirsports, so that people who aren't into english could profit from your knowledge, too.

    Just give me a hint if that is okay with you.

    greetings
    F.G.

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  92. Sure, that's ok. Just link back to the original article.

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  93. Is it good to have food before bed after drinking to aid in recovery? Or maybe a multivitamin & fish oil or something? Or would that be breaking the fast (even though your drinking during the fasting period)

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  94. assuming the same fat and protein intake, as well as say a dozen drinks, if someone had a high carb intake that day, and net energy balance was over maintenance, would the only fat stored be the 30g?

    from what I understand de novo lipogenesis only occurs in the presence of chronic high carb intake, so in this case it wouldn't occur?

    awesome blog btw.

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  95. Hey Martin,

    First off, I just want to tell you that I love your site. The information on your site is just stunning and fun to read. Now back to the topic:

    I am a eurasian guy(Thailand/Holland)and I think that I am one out of 1/2 asian guys who are cursed with the ability, or rather, disability to quickly detox alcohol. This makes my face glow red and ups my temperature when I drink too much (in my case, 2-3 beers in half an hour). What should I do and how will this effect my gains? I read somewhere - this could be complete broscience/bullshit - that alcohol hits people with this disability 10 times harder than 'regular' people.

    Thanks in advance,
    John

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  96. Anon,

    "Is it good to have food before bed after drinking to aid in recovery? Or maybe a multivitamin & fish oil or something? Or would that be breaking the fast (even though your drinking during the fasting period)"

    Eat after workout to aid in recovery. Not during and after drinking.

    Anon,

    "assuming the same fat and protein intake, as well as say a dozen drinks, if someone had a high carb intake that day, and net energy balance was over maintenance, would the only fat stored be the 30g?"

    No, you would store almost all dietary fat you consumed that day.

    John M,

    "What should I do and how will this effect my gains?"

    How could a reduced tolerance to alcohol affect your gains in any way? Except maybe positively so, since you're less likely to drink a ton and get wasted.

    ReplyDelete
  97. Martin,
    Thanks for the awesome blog you are amazing! Hope its not too late to ask this question...

    So I've always noticed that I DO feel leaner when drinking *regularly*, but after a 30 day dry spell, I seem to have a single shot of tequila or half a glass of red wine, and get RAVENOUSLY hungry. Like, I can't sleep because all I can think about is ice cream. Even if I have a good meal after drinking. Any suggestions?

    Thanks again for everything,
    catherine

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  98. Hi I have a question regarding alcohol and estrogen.. my trainer believes that in certain individuals (namely estrogen dominant females) alcohol is either converted to estrogen or at least acts like a xeno-estrogen. He is adament that I steer completely clear of alcohol for this reason - which is very difficult. What are your thoughts?

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  99. Not sure if it was already covered by was wondering about the post-work protein shake or simple carb practice, Is it just bullshit to get you to chug shakes. They put so much stress it so much i feel i gotta get home asap or my muscles are going to die haha. Can i not just go home and cook a steak and some brown rice and slam that back?

    Essentially: do i need a protein shake straight after workout ASAP or is it bullshit and can i just cook a meal which is even more beneficially?

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  100. Catherine,

    That sounds odd and I suspect it might be partly psychological/behavioral. Maybe keep some low calorie/filling "treats" handy so you don't go crazy on the ice cream. Check out the high protein recipes here:

    http://www.leangains.com/2010/09/high-protein-recipes-and-jack3d-review.html

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  101. Estelle,

    Alcohol has a very modest effect on estrogen. Much like the "alcohol lowers testosterone & makes you lose muscle"-myth it's insignificant for everyone but hardcore alcoholics. Tell your trainer he's full of shit and fire him.

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  102. Hey Martin, just had one question:
    If my feeding time is from 1 to 9 PM (eating mostly protein like you said), and I'm drinking at 11 PM till whenever I'm done, should I still fast till 1 PM like normal or start the 16h countdown from my last drink?

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  103. "...it's strange that the fitness and health community shun alcohol. "

    To me it's not: These are communities which relate to life like religious fanatics and every religion shuns alcohol because it's fun.

    Fun (as a way of life) isn't allowed in any religion and fitness or health community isn't an exception, they are more like religious cults anyway, not based on science at all.

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  104. Hi Martin,

    Thanks for the article. I have a question, though. I thought the lowered testosterone (if any) from beer came from the fact it's made with/from yeast and hop?

    Do you have any opinion or quotes on this one?

    Thanks in advance!

    Mike Post

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  105. hi martin great article, i have a question for you:
    i'm following the metabolic diet and saturday i reloading carbohydrates and often happen that i going out and drink alcohol.
    You say that if you drink in the evening during the day you should eat only protein,this also applies on the metabolic diet's carbohydrates reloading?
    Thanks

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  106. Hi martin, i was wondering, when it comes to alochol if you are always trying to get all your drinks in your 8hr window.. or if you use your cheat method does it not really matter?

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  107. So when I drink its usually a late night and something like 6 or more hours since my last meal. Does my 16 hours fast for the next day start from my last food or my last drink

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  108. what would you recommend as far as planning a routine/lifting session around drinking, does it matter? (i.e. day of is ok, day after is ok, completely seperate them)

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  109. Anon,

    "Hey Martin, just had one question:
    If my feeding time is from 1 to 9 PM (eating mostly protein like you said), and I'm drinking at 11 PM till whenever I'm done, should I still fast till 1 PM like normal or start the 16h countdown from my last drink?"

    1 PM

    Mike,

    Haven't looked into it.

    Anon,

    Don't know what the metabolic diet is or what it entails.

    Joel,

    No

    Rick,

    Answered above. Just start eating as usual.

    Jon,

    Ideally, you'd want to avoid drinking after training. You're better off training the day after.

    ReplyDelete
  110. Thorough article with some great science thrown in! Certainly made me feel a little less concerned about my increased alcohol intake this Christmas and New Year! Alcohol is the same as food in the sense of making the healthier choices which you identified as dry wines and various spirits - not a bad 'substitute' really.

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  111. Hey Martin,

    I was wondering about the effects of alcohol while taking creatine. I know you're pretty much a no supplement guy, except for BCAAs, but if one was a moderate drinker would there be any point to taking creatine?

    In this article you state the negative effects of alcohol are way overblown(as long as your intake isn't anything extreme and regular). The addition of creatine seems to be a small positive effect compared to proper diet and training.

    I doubt there's any studies on this, but while I don't think anything "bad" will happen, is taking creatine while drinking a huge waste of money? Or might there be small benefits?

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  112. Graet article! I just wanted to know, does dehydration from alcohol have any effect on muscle growth?

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  113. Hey Martin,

    Just used this method last night, haha thanks for the great article!

    I was just curious you say to keep carbs low, about 1.5g/kg if i remember correctly. Is that a maximum or should we also purposely ingest carbs in the meals prior to the drinking binge? Also should fructuose be avoided on this day as well?

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  114. Hi,
    Overweight and alcohol can't go toghether, so it should be replaced by Organic Juice or thea.
    Cheers.

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  115. Try drinking some pure alcohol, since it's so good for you. Let us knwo how that works out for you...

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  116. That's got to be the best picture of you yet...

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  117. Excellent article. I was wondering if it would be bad to work out fasted the morning after drinking. For instance, following the diet protocol you outlined Friday ending the feeding period at 8pm, drinking a decent amount Friday night, but not to the point of being sick or hung over Saturday, wake up around 9am Saturday, have BCAAs, workout at 10, eat at 12.

    Also, for having a single beer from time to time, would it be reasonable to look up the nutritional information, calculate the amount of alcohol in grams and essentially equate that as replacing some of your allotted fat for the day? For instance, a beer with 30g carb that is 9% alcohol would have 2.7g alcohol and 27.3g other carbs, 2.7 x 5.7 would be 15.4 kcal equal to 1.7g fat, so for the sake of simplicity, would be recorded in the daily macros as 27g carb and 2g fat.

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  118. ok...ignore the second part of my comment/question. I'm was temporarily being a supreme idiot

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  119. Yes, amazing stuff! Thanks!

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  120. i've actually been still a little drunk on a sunday mornings and hit some pr's pretty consistently. I've also had pr's the week after I binged on some brews postworkout

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  121. Haha, i dont know what to say.i am not alcohol drinker,but reading your post inspire me.LOl. the sad part is i cant stand the headache due to hang over thing.

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  122. I'm curious, if someone was to eat a hypercaloric diet of high carb, low fat and drink alcohol, wouldn't there also be minimal to no fat gain since there's no intake of dietary fat? And assuming this is done for only one day.

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  123. The OCD in me got me thinking.. Is it a good strategy to include alcohol on a reefeed day?

    Say I train weights mon, wed, fri, and drink on Fridays.

    Would it be best to;

    A) Train weights on friday and eat low fat, low carbs and ad libitum protein

    B) Train weights on friday and eat like a normal reefeed (adding alcohol as calories)

    C) Drink alcohol and eat low fat, low carb on friday and train weights/refeed on Saturday

    - Aleksander

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  124. Great article and I appreciate all that you do. I am about 6'5 and 205 and lanky. I would like to either tone up or buff up. I also drink at least 4-5 nights a week -- most of the time 10 plus drinks. Is there any hope to get more fit or is it hopeless without drinking less. Thanks again!

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  125. and i'm just checking if i can comment on this as all the opinions of readers look a little too good

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  126. I'm beginning a cardio regimen and I'm already weight training to get rid a little layer of fat. If I drink let's say once a week or maybe every two weeks at a volume of five drinks and up, will that inhibit the fat loss and my metabolism? The max is 10 for me.

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  127. Great article. Isn´t there a lot of sugar in Rum and a lot of carbs because of that?

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  128. How should you eat the day after your drinking? Should you just eat regularly?

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  129. coke and rum is one of the best mixed drinks out there
    diet coke and rum is probably one of the worst
    Drinking beer on a regular basis does tend to bring on the fat,after I switched to dry wine and spirits I noticed a big change

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  130. Loved the article Martin! Only thing I have to share is I drank for 40 years in varying amounts. I'd say that I enjoyed my drinks almost every day having learned to drink in the Army. Also picked up smoking as well at that time. Over 25 years ago gave up smoking but not alcohol. I taught aerobic exercise for 10 years all the while continuing to drink. I didn't know how to eat for a lean body then but was not ever really fat but I never showed my abs. I'm now 62 years old and I have stopped drinking and for the first time in my life am lean enough to have abs definition so I doubt that I'll be taking up drinking again. I also would like all to know it's okay to drink water at social gatherings and many people mention respect for me for the example and really I have just as many friends and am out as much as when I drank. I feel better than I have felt in years and love my new visible abs shaped body!!

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  131. nobody wants to hear ur 62 year old ab story and it's no fun going to a party not drinking.....hahaha

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  132. Wow this is a really great read- thank you! as a girl who is trying to watch her weigh and works out regularly I have often wondered about where the whole alcohol factor fits in with fat loss- but now that i've read this I feel a lot better/ smarter! i also switched to drinking "light alcohol" like corona light and voli light vodka- both are lower calorie than regular. I now make myself a drink a week like this one: bit.ly/vkwOlP without the added guilt I used to have while drinking regularly and with regular alcohol! Thanks so much!

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  133. Hi Martin,

    I was wondering if you knew of any studies regarding alcohol consumption and HIIT. I've read in certain articles that your body views alcohol as a poison and therefore will work to eliminate it from the body before burning off any other macronutrients from your system. I think it converts alcohol into a usable source of energy called acetate, but I'm not quite sure. My question is, what if you get a little buzzed and do some HIIT such as sprints or cardio. Can your body really utilize just the alcohol for quick energy you'd need to perform the workouts, or would it need to use up your carb stores or even protein if you were doing a low carb or keto diet. Just something I can't find any empirical information on. Was hoping you could chime in with your thoughts. Thanks!

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  134. So if I drink, say, a beer by itself (no meal for a few hours), how will my body metabolize the carbs? Will they replenish my glycogen stores, turn into fat, or be oxidized?

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  135. This site is absolutely awesome! I'll be putting this and many other of your articles into practice.

    J

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  136. Hi Martin,

    First off I would like to say your article was astounding. My question is as followed.

    I have Graves Disease, and would like to know if your drinking regimen would work for me, for successful weight loss? Your comments would be greatly appreciated. Thank You
    Lisa

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  137. Hey Martin,

    I have used your method of IF with great results. About alcohol however, do you know of anyway it affects acne. I seems to see a positive correlation with me. And I have posted on acne message boards, and others have noticed improvements in their skin with alcohol consumption. If so what would be the best way to take it.

    Thanks Martin, this is a great site, thanks for sharing your knowledge, helping us overcome supplement company propaganda.

    ReplyDelete
  138. Forgive me if this has already been addressed, as I've not had time (just discovered this article while at work) but how could this be modified for women? I only began drinking 2 years ago and have more trouble with belly fat than in years of dedicated gym time. I've got amazing abs, but they lie beneath a little pudge of fat these days! NOT cool.

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  139. So if I was to drink heavily one night (assuming mostly vodka), should I consider myself to be not fasting the next morning since I've still got ethanol with priority oxidation in the liver? How much alcohol lasts in your body for how long? Is it different for something like Wine?

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  140. Great article. I think the main takeaway and now it seems like a no-brainer is take away the bad food associated with drinking. I've always wondered how really fit looking people (Vegas pool parties) manage to look good and drink. Turns out that they probably have very clean diets, and drink one day a week or every two weeks.

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  141. Hi Martin
    I was thinking about doing something similar to your proposed drinking diet and while searching for some verification of my theory, I found your great article. It gave me exactly the information I needed.

    One thing: During my drinking day, do you think I should increase my Vitamin supplements? i.e. Vitamin C, B Complex, possibly NAC.

    Also you state that because alcohol is diuretic you will lose some weight from water loss. Wouldn't it be better to supplement the drinking with extra water to help prevent a hangover or other side-effects from dehydration?

    Best Regards Bob

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  142. Hi Again,

    I forgot to ask in my previous post....

    Your article mentions that Acetate is a toxin. My understanding is that Acetaldehyde, the pre-cursor to Acetate, is toxic (not Acetate itself). Which is correct?

    Regards Bob

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  143. One of the best things on the internet I've ever seen/read. It's f*cking reassuring having an expert like yourself describe the situation. Oh, and to know you're not alone when dealing with this kind of thing. There are alcohol nazis out there who would claim 1 drink will set you back weeks of gains, maybe months. It's expert scientists such as yourself that make them look retarded. Thank you!

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  144. I am very happy for having found such an amazing blog like yours.

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  145. Great information here Martin, thanks for sharing with us. You're very inspirational to say the least!

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  146. Martin,

    The biggest threat I see from alcohol consumption is the sharp decline in leptin secretion even after moderate drinking.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11894976?dopt=Abstract

    This would most definitely have a negative downstream effect testosterone. I speculate that researchers have not measured T far enough after alcohol consumption. I would like to see a period of 24-72 hours.

    Beside the possible decline in T levels, the sharp decline in leptin secretion is enough to keep me from drinking much. Personally, even one drink makes me feel irritable the whole next day. Irritability, I have found, is a sure indicator of leptin decline.


    What are your thoughts on this?

    Thanks,
    Matthew Caton

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  147. You make a very convincing case! I really appreciate all of the links you post to the studies.

    You addressed the issues I was concerned with (protein synthesis, testosterone) and then went above and beyond.

    After reading this article I thoroughly enjoyed a couple glasses of wine.

    Many thanks. Cheers!

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  148. Fantastic article mate! The line of work I'm in, entertaining clients, involves a regular intake of booze and drinking is really the only "vice" I have & something I've been very conscious of with regard to the cutting phase I'm currently in. Unfortunately wine goes straight to my head!

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  149. It's been two years since you posted this article (which I enjoyed very much reading). Isn't it time to make an update with the latest research now summer's coming? Would appreciate it, thanks!

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  150. Love the site, first time posting on an article because I'm surprised no one else has asked this since the 2 years this has been up. Reading online it looks like the biggest issue with alcohol is the affect on HGH released during sleeping, they say it can be reduced by 70%, which greatly impedes recovery. I don't see that addressed in the article. Thoughts anyone?

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  151. Hey Martin

    If alcohol takes preference over carbohydrates and proteins does this mean that if having it with a meal, it would effectively be harming your muscle recovery?

    Apologies if I've got the wrong side of things.

    Cheers.

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  152. I would love to read your articles in swedish, please...

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  153. Hi Martín.
    WHAT tipe OF coke do you preffer with pure alcohol? Normal or light (zero sugar).

    Thanks

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  154. i call bullshit, beer and alcohol alone makes you fat. Also ask someone who has stopped drinking, they drop body weight. And they did not binge on food when drinking.

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  155. Does this work for people like me who drink 750ml of vodka a day? (every day for last 4 years).

    My tolerance is massive, it doesn't make me drunk, i drink a cup every hour, followed by some menthols.

    No-one can even tell.

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  156. Is it possible to have say just one drink while fasting and still get results from the IF method ?

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  157. Advantageously, the article is actually the best on this noteworthy topic. I fit in with your conclusions and will thirstily look forward to your coming updates. cheap cars.

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  158. from my personal experience during dieting (anabolic diet) and drinking 2-4 cans of beer per week i can tell, that i still lost bodyfat, BUT i think i would have lost even more if i didn't drink at all. i will from today on stop drinking completely for at least 4 weeks. after that time i will post a coment on how it affected my dieting results. :)

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  159. Genuis, absolute genuis! THANK YOU! AMAZING INFO that makes total sense! I love my nightly cocktails but do not love the bloated belly. No more binge eating while drinking.

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  160. This is the best article I've ever read on this subject, period. I avoided alcohol for YEARS thinking it would destroy my results. If only I could get those years back... Oh well, I know better now. Will give your exact approach a try.

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  161. very interesting read! thanks for that!

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  162. Good article. I know for me personally, it's not the actual nutrition or science behind it, but my actions during a night of boozing. I'll probably eat worse, then tack on the additional calories from the beer or whatever, and its almost a guarantee I'll be at a caloric surplus. Then if im hungover the next day, I'm more likely to make poor food decisions then as well. lol.

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  163. Thanks for the great article man really! I knew that one or two beers is healthy with reduced cardio disease and stuff. But, recently all the fitness sites were telling me while that was true they will kill my test, GH, and muscle building. they stated even one a week is pushing it, which I found hard to believe. I noticed the studies they showed never said HOW MUCH alcohol the subjects drank, and I knew that was fishy. Glad to see one or two isn't going to effect me. Time to go enjoy a cold one :)

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  164. Great article. I usually low carb and mostly just drink red wine so I should be in ok shape.

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  165. Hi Martin,

    I'm wondering if post drinking nutrition should be worried about. After a night of drinking the booze, is it better to eat a healthy meal to replenish lost nutrients or to keep on schedule with a fast?

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  166. If I am fasting from 8pm to next 12pm. Can I still drink after 8pm at night?

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  167. I am not an advocate for alcohol, having been quite heavy on it myself. But your article tells the truth. Over a 6 month period when I started working out, I went down 10 cm around my waist and gained 4 cm around my arms, while drinking 6-7 beers every day. However, the downside (there´s probably a lot of them) is that I developed a pretty bad heart flutter due to the amounts of alcohol. I have now stopped drinking, but hey, - as long as you eat healthy, I don´t see how a drink or two should hurt.

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  168. Zero calories in vodka? Im sorry but a 1L of Vodka has 2187cal.

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  169. Hello Martin, thank you for sharing all this knowlegde on the site. It has worked wonders for my body.

    I think I got everything in this post and my question is:

    Can I go and eat a big dinner (with fats, carbs and protein) and drink a lot (say 18cl whiskey) as long as I dont exceed my daily calorie intake that day?

    Or does the alcohol, because of the stop of the fat oxidation, make me store much more fat than if I did not drink?

    I suspect I could find the answer in your post but I just cant seem to figure it out.

    All the best, Ben

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  170. Martin, you suggest dry white wine in your article, but I've read that dry red wine has a lower GI, which I would think would make it the preferred choice over the two.

    Your thoughts?

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