“Can I have a drink or two on the weekends and still lose weight?” is a question I get from clients more often than not. The truthful answer is, “yes”. The most realistic answer is, “probably not”. It’s not that it can’t be done, but rather the fact that most people are unwilling to put in the time and effort to make it work So, let’s say you’re super motivated, but also a lot of fun, but most importantly super motivated and you really want to make this work. How would you?
You absolutely have to count them towards your days calories and macros. First off, you need to stick with drinks that you can find a caloric value for. A simple search in Google or MyFitnessPal should do the trick. From there, you can simply apply a little bit of math to account for the drink in your daily calorie and macro goals. If you read my previous article on macros, you know that one gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories while one gram of fat contains 9 calories. While important for energy, carbohydrates are non essential for life when in the presence of adequate protein and fat so for most people, I’d prefer you subtract from your daily carbohydrate goal. For example, let’s say your beer has 200 calories. To figure out the correct macro exchange, simply divide 200 (calories of the beer) by 4 (calories in one gram of carbohydrate) to get 50. This means you will count the aforementioned beer as 200 calories and 50 grams of carbohydrates towards your daily allowance. Likewise, you can do the same formula using 9 (calories in one gram of fat) or even do a combination of both carbs and fat.
For accuracy, it’s important that you choose drinks that you can find a caloric value for and that you avoid mixed drinks. An exception to the mixed drink rule would be if you choose a calorie free mixer such as diet soda. It’s also important that you plan your drinks ahead of time, set a goal, and stick to it. If you wait until the end of the day to start figuring out the impact your drinks will have, you’ll quickly find that even an ounce or two of your favorite beverage can put you over your caloric goal for the day and if you have a fat loss goal kick you out of the caloric deficit needed to reach it.
If you have a fat loss goal and are serious about it, you’d do best to avoid regular alcohol consumption. That being said, I realize the real world involves meetings and social events that are important and sometimes it’s not easily avoided. So, if you find yourself in a situation where drinks are going to happen it’s best to be prepared ahead of time. If it becomes a weekly habit and you begin to notice your fat loss comes to a halt, it’s time to have an honest conversation with yourself about your goals and the sacrifices you’re willing to make to achieve them. As in all things success related, adherence to a plan and consistency will determine your success. Need help with a plan? Let me know.