Nights out and fitness, and specifically alcohol and fat loss. This is a topic we get asked about frequently by guys and girls on social media, with questions similar to the below:
“I’m going out for a drink tonight for my friend’s birthday. It’s probably going to be quite a heavy one. Is there anything I can do limit the damage so I don’t ruin my progress?”
Here, lots of plans and online coaches would limit you to ‘one drink’ (likely!) or ban alcohol (and diet/full sugar soft drinks) and advise just water – warning you that alcohol kills muscle and negatively affects your hormones. In moderation, we can assure you, alcohol doesn’t do this. And yes, even when your aim is to lose weight/fat, you can enjoy a drink.
Cutting alcohol out altogether will likely lead to weekend binges and is a lazy tactic from a coach in our opinion, who could instead take the time to educate you on food and drink choices and properly managing your calories. This will allow you to enjoy a drink at work or social events, without the worry of your muscle cells dying or instantaneously packing on body fat. This is why we cover the topic of alcohol and fitness across multiple articles on our website, and within the Nutrition and Lifestyle & Sustainability sections of our LDNM Transformation Guides.
On the night out there are some simple options you can take to reduce caloric intake, financial cost and your hangover:
- Opt for diet mixers.
- Opt to mix spirits with soda water and sugar free cordial/squeezed juice.
- Opt for light/diet beer.
- Have a pint of water every other drink.
- Avoid full sugar energy drinks, and limit sugar free energy drinks.
- Opt for lower carb and/or fat takeaway options if you are absolutely going to grab one after your night out. You can do this by avoiding bread, chips, mayonnaise, burger saaaauce and full sugar soft drinks.
Here are some easy methods to account for a big Saturday night on the town! None are going to be exact sciences, but simple tactics to account for the increase in liquid calories:
- Reduce the fat in your final meal(s) before your night out, and skip your usual pre-bed/late evening meal (which you would likely miss anyway). This will reduce calories for the day and help account for reduced fat oxidation (fat is constantly deposited and burnt/oxidised by the body) when consuming moderate units of alcohol.
- Prepare your meals for the next day ahead of time, which will likely be a rest day from weights due to the hangover! This will help prevent you snacking on more calorie-dense junk food, or ordering takeaways. This will also put you in a better position to train hard the next day and avoid the dreaded 2-day hangover!
- Skip 1-2 of your meals the next day. Should you feel hungover or have a lay the morning after the night before then this should be a walk in the park. Reducing to 2-3 evenly spaced out meals will reduce total daily calories and account for the increased intake last night. You can even add 1-2 protein based snacks to replace your missed meals if you wish.
- Complete some cardio in the evening to help metabolise the remaining alcohol. This increased flow of blood could aid with the process of removing the remaining alcohol from your system slightly quicker, whilst burning calories from exercise at the same time. Please ensure you are sober enough to perform exercise safely here.
- Calculate a rough intake of alcohol the following morning (easier when you can remember/after a more controlled night) and estimate the caloric intake on the myfitnesspal app. Then you can reduce your total calories to account for the theorised surplus over the coming 1-2 days.
As I mentioned, these are not going to be 100% accurate methods and are simply handy tools for frequent drinkers to utilise from time to time, and perfect in due course! If you have had a poor relationship with food or an eating disorder in the past I would proceed with caution here, and try to always keep in mind that the occasional meal out, treat, cheat or night out will not have a negative effect on your week if you’ve been consistent for the majority of it!
We have an article detailing meals out and fitness, as well as several others on the topic of alcohol:
- Binge drinking and fitness.
- Alcohol and fitness.
- The best practice to enjoy festivals without any anxiety.
Our LDNM Guides for men and women both detail how to develop and progress with diets you genuinely enjoy, incorporating the foods you love with space for caloric beverages should you wish. We do not enforce boring, rigid, expensive, tasteless food upon you as this will not lend itself to long term progress or a good relationship with food.
A good quality of life comes with achieving an enjoyable balance between work, social life, fitness and other commitments. We understand this and as well as covering it in our transformation guides we cover it in this article too.