Monday, May 21, 2012

Is it Possible to Drink a 6-Pack a Day & Still Get Six Pack Abs? A look into Drinking and how it Affects Your Efforts to Lose Fat and Get Lean

In this interview below, I questioned fat loss expert Todd Scott on his opinions on drinking and fat loss.  Todd manages to drink and party every week and still stay at 7-8% bodyfat with ripped six pack abs.

MG:  Todd, I know that you and I share similar opinions on fat loss techniques and how to get a six pack.  One thing I've seen over the years is that a lot of our readers don't want to give up drinking alcohol altogether, but they still want to get six pack abs.  What is your opinion on this?  Obviously, most people are not going to be willing to give up drinking entirely, so how can they best balance this aspect of their lives in order to still stay as lean as possible.

TS: I've seen the same thing. To be quite honest, it's one of the first questions I'd hear when working with a new client. Generally speaking, alcohol can make people fat. And often times it does. Especially if people drink too much too often, and aren't careful in how they incorporate alcohol consumption into their overall program.

I will admit, years ago, I would tell clients they had to give up alcohol if they want to drop fat. But I knew deep down it wasn't entirely true, because, at the time, I drank alcohol on a weekly basis and still had below 7% to 8% body fat levels and six pack abs.

So the whole notion that you have to give up alcohol altogether in order to get a flat stomach and six pack abs is absolutely false – regardless of what most 'experts' say.

Now don't get me wrong, the experts who say we have to give up alcohol to lose fat, aren't "misinformed", they're simply just looking out for the effectiveness of the program they give their clients and the clients themselves. In their defense, if they told a client "Oh yeah, you can drink alcohol and still get ripped abs, go for it"… the client could take this information and think they can drink as much and as often as they like on top of their planned food consumption. If this were to happen, then yeah, chances are the fat loss would not happen.

So, there are best practices when it comes to alcohol consumption and fat loss, and obviously regular heavy drinkers are going to have a difficult time losing fat and getting six pack abs. There's really no way to sugar coat it. But if someone wants to have a few drinks here and there (or even a lot of drinks), the best thing to do is formulate a plan. Just as if you were planning your weekly workout and nutrition schedule.

People who drink "light to moderate" and have a plan in place to account for the additional calories from alcohol will have the best success in losing fat and developing flat sexy abs without giving up their drink of choice.

In terms of calories, each light beer will contain about 100 calories each, and each regular beer, at least 150 calories each (sometimes more), so this can add up fast if you binge drink.  Be sure to factor all of these calories into your diet.  A sugary mixed drink can have 300 – 500 calories in 1 drink!

The best tip I can give is to try to limit your drinking to only one night a week, and make sure to avoid fruity syrupy drinks or drinks that use colas mixed in… there's just too much sugar and excess calories in those.  If you decide to drink mixed drinks, choose mixers that use club soda instead of tonic water… tonic water contains lots of sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup, while club soda is calorie free.  Try to avoid diet drinks mixers as we all know the dangers with artificial sweeteners.

Even if you're drinking one (or even 2) nights a week, as long as your weekly caloric intake is where it needs to be, and all of your other days of the week are filled with healthy nutrient rich foods, you can still lose body fat while drinking once or twice a week.  Of course, make sure that you're working out intensely throughout the week as well.
MG:  When it comes to parties, barbeques, and going out on weekends, another issue is that it can be easier for many people to overeat once they've had a few drinks.  What do you think is a good way to handle this without packing on the pounds?

TS: Overeating after a few drinks, in my opinion, is the number 1 reason alcohol is deemed the enemy of losing fat. Drinking alcohol isn't directly what makes most people fat… many times it's the eating that follows a night of drinking & partying, whether it be a night out on the town or at a small barbeque with friends.

First, to get a better understanding of what we're dealing with you have to understand alcohol, how it works, and what it does. Alcohol has 7 calories per gram, whereas carbs and protein have approximately 4 calories per gram, and fats have approximately 9 calories per gram. Although alcohol is dense in calories, it is basically void of nutrition.  Also a certain portion of the alcohol ingested is absorbed into your bloodstream straight through the walls of your stomach. That's why only 1-2 shots of alcohol cause you to feel its effects within minutes – because you can absorb a portion of it into your bloodstream quickly.

One aspect of drinking alcohol that can increase your appetite is that while alcohol is being processed by the liver, the liver halts its release of glucose and blood sugar levels can drop.  This is one reason why you can get wild hunger cravings after a night of drinking. Also keep in mind that you're more likely to make poor choices and choose more junk foods in your intoxicated state.

So, in order to beat the cravings and avoid packing on the pounds that come after a night of drinking, you'll need a plan, you'll need to be prepared, and you'll have to have a lot of willpower.

Generally, the best thing to do if you've been out drinking is to be prepared, and fight off the carb cravings for as long as you can. One of the keys to my success with being able to drink on a weekly basis and still lose fat is planning ahead.

I'd recommend cooking in advance or having something ready for you when you get in from the party. Generally, I'll have a few chicken breasts (any protein can be substituted) waiting in the refrigerator. So, if I was starving when I got in, I've got some healthy chicken breasts to fill my hunger instead of junk foods.

Another thing you can do is plan your cheat day immediately following your "party" day. That way, you'll have more will power to keep you from eating after a night of drinking. It's a lot easier to go to bed with cravings when you know as soon as you wake up you'll be able to eat whatever you want.

Also, make sure to get a relatively high intensity workout done the day after drinking in order to help burn off a lot of the excess calories you may have consumed the night before and get your body back in a healthier state.

As we all know, moderation is key… If you really do want a lean body and six pack abs, it's not going to happen if you're drinking heavily 4 or 5 nights a week.  However, if you keep it to 1-2 nights/week and follow some of these tips in this article, it can be much easier to manage your social life which may involve drinking with still losing fat and getting lean.

Todd is the Author of the program, How to Get Six Pack Abs

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