Do you ever feel like you eat healthy ALL week, but then those dang weekends just get away from you? And if you’re honest, it’s not even the food… it’s the DRINKS. Trust me, I get it! I LOVE going out for a glass (or two) of wine, cocktails with the girls, or grabbing an IPA at a local pub. You name it, I’m more than likely down to drink it! 😉 Buuuut I also know the frustration of feeling like you killed it with your diet all week only to feel like you threw all the progress down the drain on the weekend. It suuuucks! And this common theme has left a lot of people asking me… “Can I drink alcohol AND lose weight?”
So in this blog we’re talking aaaaall about it. We’re talking wine night. We’re talking happy hour with the girls – we’re talking about everything! Aaand we’re talking about how the hell you can navigate all these social situations that involve alcohol and still meet your weightloss goals.
If you want to read this to find out how… well, keep reading! 😉
If you’d rather watch/listen to me cover this topic, catch the video below: Click here!!
So… Can I Drink Alcohol AND Lose Weight?
Hell yeah you can! But you also have to be smart about it. And in this blog I’m telling you not only how to track it, but also how to set up your environment so you don’t drink more than you intend to (because let’s be real, we’ve aaaaall fallen down that rabbit hole).
Using Macro Tracking (and How to Actually Count it All)
In terms of tracking the various types of alcohol, thankfully it’s all the same – we usually track it as carbs. This is great because it means you don’t have to worry about counting your wine nights differently than happy hour. It’s all the same concept which keeps things super simple (you know I’m all about making life easier on ourselves!).
Because alcohol is not a food and is void of major nutrients, it falls under a different regulatory system than the FDA and isn’t counted the same as the three macronutrients. Alcohol is 7 calories per gram (unlike protein, fat, or carbohydrate which are all different), so we are technically bending the rules by calculating it as a carb.
But we do this for a couple reasons…
First, because carbs are the one macronutrient you have room to use for something extra like alcohol. If you look at most people’s diets (minus the keto zealots), the majority of their food is coming from a carbohydrate source. This is especially true when you’re eating in a maintenance mode or if you just have a higher intake day. The second reason is because carbs are the only non-essential macro. You literally HAVE to eat protein and fat to survive. You need protein for the essential amino acids, and fat because it is what makes up a layer of each and every one of our cells. So for these reasons it just makes sense to pull alcohol from your carbs.
While we do technically fudge the numbers a little to count it as a carb… the math to try to convert it is INSANE and would make your head explode! And at the end of the day, it’s not about getting things perfectly right… It’s about keeping things as simple as possible so you can keep yourself honest and keep an eye on your alcohol consumption.
To track your alcohol, take the number of calories in your drink, divide it by 4 and log that number of carbs. If you’re not sure how many calories your drink has, Google something similar and call it close enough. For example, if you’re at a local pub drinking an IPA, Google something like “average calories in an IPA” and log it as such. Simple as that!
Okay, but What About WINE?
Alright ladies, let’s talk everyone’s favorite… WINE. Wine is the drink that tends to get us in the most trouble because it’s SO easy to drink more than we originally intended to. You open a bottle thinking you’ll just have one glass, but then you don’t want the bottle to go bad so before you know it you’re on your second (or third) glass for the night. And at that point you figure you might as well drink the whole damn thing.
You shoot yourself in the foot when you open a bottle of wine with no one to help you! So if you’re going to open a bottle, you should have a plan in place ahead of time. Decide how many glasses you’re going to have, and have a plan of action to put the bottle away. After you pour your glass, put on a wine stopper and remove the bottle from where you’re going to be relaxing for the evening.
Another way you can help yourself to avoid overindulging is to impose portion control. For example, if I know I’m the only one drinking wine, my go-to is having some of the single-serve mini bottles on hand. This allows me to enjoy wine without going overboard and without relying on my own ability to exercise self control. Be smart about what you’re doing to set yourself up for success. If you know you had a super stressful work day and your self control is GONE, have an action plan in place so you can kick back, enjoy your wine, and not be stressing out about drinking it!
Even At Parties?
Ahhhh, social drinking. Is there anything more fun (and more tempting) than party drinking? It’s SO easy to start grabbing and drinking without thinking twice. Before you know it you realize you’ve had 6 (or was it 7?) seltzers and there is nooo stopping you now. I get it, we’ve all been there. But here are two of the best things you can do to maintain your goals and still have fun at parties:
1) Pre-log your alcohol
Come to the party with a PLAN so you don’t go into fuck-it mode and drink more than you honestly even want to.
2) Bring your own alcohol
If you want to enjoy 3 seltzers, don’t show up to a party and expect there to be seltzers, then get all huffy when all they have is beer and wine. Bring your own shit and take control over the things you’re trying to control.
Your alcohol choices are no one’s responsibility or priority other than yours. So if you have certain things you want to eat or drink in order to maintain your goals, bring it! Bring what you want to enjoy instead of thinking they’ll have something that works for your plan, only to be pissed at them when they don’t. Make your decisions, set up a plan, and OWN it.
Tips for Making Your Life Easier to Drink Alcohol AND Lose Weight
- Use your macro tracking app and create set categories for drinks.
In my app I’ve got a beer, wine, and liquor tab which I use as the base for tracking alcohol. That way I don’t have to log drinks as a new thing EVERY single time.
- If you’re out for cocktails, order something with a zero-calorie mixer
My go-to is a vodka soda! I loooove me a vodka soda with lime, so I tend to order those when I don’t want to figure out all the other ingredients in my drink. Instead I just make sure it’s a single shot and I just log the vodka. If you’re trying to make the crazy fun drinks fit every time you go out, you’re going to lose your freaking mind. While it’s important to find balance (it’s okay to have a mindful night and enjoy some margaritas!), when you do decide to track, try to keep it simple on yourself.
- Build in portion control when you can
Instead of putting yourself in environments where you have to constantly exercise self control, set yourself up for success by having ways you can use portion control without thinking about it. We only have so much self control in a day, and we all know a drink or two means we have even LESS.
- Tell someone your plan and ask them to hold you to it
You don’t have to keep everything you’re doing a secret, and you also don’t have to tell everyone about it if you don’t want to. But having a person there to help hold you accountable is really helpful when it comes to drinking (especially at events where you know there will be peer pressure – seriously what is this? High school? *eye roll*)
At the end of the day, you CAN drink alcohol and lose weight … but it takes time and effort to create an environment you will succeed in.
The truth is, alcohol and weight loss are NOT best friends. But this doesn’t mean there isn’t room for balance. There needs to be! You’re a human and sometimes you need nights out with the girls without worrying about tracking every single thing. And that’s OKAY! But it’s about being smart with your decisions, being diligent when you do decide to track, and ultimately setting yourself up for success.
Ready to learn more about macro tracking? Check out this blog here in which I talk all about it!
And if you’re ready for help in finding the balance between losing weight AND still living your life, apply here for my coaching!