Drinking Alcohol & Losing Bodyfat: Beer Or Hard Alcohol?
By Chris Albert of Warrior Soul Agoge. Edited by Matt Cooper
There once was a time in the not so distant past when, if you asked me whether you should go with beer or whiskey, I would have responded “both you fuckin pussy.” Those days are over.
I don’t drink anymore, and I have my reasons for it. Aside from the fact that I wasted thousands of dollars on booze along with years of my life, I really just can’t take it anymore. When I hit 30 years old, hangovers started getting more brutal and longer lasting. On top of that, alcohol screws with my ulcerative colitis.
So given this fact, I’m going to try to avoid sounding like your dad as I write this article. I’m no one to be saying that you shouldn’t be able to have a drink as long as you’re over 21 and not putting anyone else’s lives in danger by driving or operating heavy machinery. Just be smart about it.
But I also don’t want to encourage drinking. As I’ve discovered all too clearly in my past, regular binge drinking can take your money, your health, and it can lead to some really bad decisions. I just know that telling people not to drink is an exercise in futility, and that when I was younger and had people tell me the same thing, I told them to fuck off.
So that brings me to the subject of the day: I often get asked, “what’s better if you’re trying to stay fit? Beer or hard alcohol?”
Well it comes down to three factors: calories, ingredients and alcohol content.
If we’re speaking purely from a calorie standpoint, beer has far more calories than hard alcohol. Twelve ounces of your average beer contains around 150 calories. If we’re talking light beer, we’re looking at around 110 calories. A shot of hard alcohol contains around 97 calories.
That’s pretty alarming considering that soda is considered one of the leading causes of obesity in the United States and a can of Coca Cola contains 140 calories while a can of Pepsi contains 150 calories.
But again, the dose makes the poison. If you drink one or two beers a week, those calories won’t throw much of wrench into your fitness efforts as long as you’re training and following an otherwise healthy fitness regimen. If however, that number jumps to a 6 pack, which by my old standards was a pretty weak night, we’re talking 900 extra calories a week.
A six pack a week. Yeah, let’s get realistic for a moment because, if you’re like I was, you probably split a 30 pack of light beer with one of your friends on an average weekend night. Given that you probably each toss two or three to other friends that come over, we’re talking 12 light beers on any average weekend night. That ends up being an extra 1,320 calories two or three nights a week totaling 2649-3960 extra calories per week.
Beyond calories, we need to consider alcohol content. Alcohol can have a serious negative effect on your liver and kidneys. It can also affect you hormonally as the plants used to produce most hard alcohols contain phytoestrogens, which can exogenously raise your estrogen levels. This can increase your chances of storing fat and eventually becoming obese.
On average, a serving of beer, hard alcohol, or wine, all contain the same amounts of alcohol, but the servings contain different volumes. You’re going to need to drink a higher volume of beer to get a buzz than you would whiskey. More beer means more calories. More calories means more fat around that ass.
Another consideration here is that alcohol is prioritized in the body by the metabolism. If you eat food and drink alcohol in an overlapping frame (w/in 4 hours minimally, depending on how much you eat/drink), then your food has a greater chance to be stored as fat.
Beer and many alcoholic beverages are going to contain excess, unwanted sugar (so-called 'girly drinks' cocktails), as well as wheat, gluten (beer). This is why high sugar and wheat-containing items are the worst. Even grain-based alcohol is going to cause a ton of flush and inflammation (aka why you look like shit in your drinking pictures).
Is Drinking One Drink a Night Good For Me?
As this review from Harvard shows, moderate consumption of alcohol (one drink a night) does have some benefits including reduced risk of stroke and heart attack. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/alcohol-full-story/#possible_health_benefits
Scientists hypothesize that this is because moderate alcohol consumption increases your levels of high density lipoprotein, or good cholesterol. But we also have to note that this may not be because of alcohol consumption because people who drink moderately also tend to follow healthier diets.
So if you want to have a scotch on the rocks, a beer, or a glass of wine a night, then this may help your health. Just keep it to one. If that number jumps to two or three, then you increase your health risks.
So What Should You Do?
Listen, this is America, and if you want a drink be my guest. I personally hate when people try to take a moralistic tone with me on anything.
But I also want you to live your best life, and if you’re reading this, you probably have an interest in health and fitness. So if you want to live a long, happy, and healthy life, drink with a healthy dose of moderation or don’t drink at all. You can determine what’s best for you.
The best drinks are tequila, grain-free vodka, gin, and a little wine.
But if you come to me saying that you want to get six pack abs or compete as an athlete and you can’t figure out why it’s not happening when you binge drink on the weekends, now you know why.
Remember this: it’s never worth ruining your career for a good time. There’s also a lot of people out right now who’re suffering because of alcohol. Keep your head on straight and remember who you are.