Muscle for life

Does Alcohol Consumption Affect Weight Loss and Muscle Growth?

Does Alcohol Consumption Affect Weight Loss and Muscle Growth?

Does alcohol consumption ruin hormone levels, strength, fat loss, and muscle recovery?


Alcohol and its relation to health and fitness is a tricky subject.

In small amounts—a drink or two a day—it has potential health benefits like improved insulin sensitivity, cardiac function, and blood lipids (fatty substances in your blood, which when lowered, reduces your risk of heart disease).

In larger amounts, alcohol leads to barely conscious drives home, fistfights over who’s the best NFL rusher of all time, and charges of public indecency. And to nobody’s surprise, chronic alcohol abuse basically just breaks your ass.

But this chapter isn’t about the various effects of mild or severe drinking.

Instead, it will answer a question on many people’s minds: how much alcohol can we drink before it will negatively affect our weight loss and muscle growth?

Alcohol and Weight Loss

alcohol consumption and weight gain

Similar to the carbohydrate inquisition that’s in vogue these days, alcohol is the target of many criticisms. According to some people, if you drink, you’re going to get fat—end of story. And you might just lose all your muscle as a bonus.

Well, if we take a quick look at epidemiological research, we can see that moderate alcohol consumption is actually associated with lower body weight, not higher.

For instance, a study published in 1985 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the diets of 1,944 adults aged 18-74. Researchers found that an increase in calories from ethanol (alcohol) alone didn’t result in the weight gain that would normally occur if those calories were from protein, carbs, or fat.

In fact, thanks to regular alcohol intake, drinkers took in an average of 16% more calories each day than non-drinkers, and had the same levels of physical activity, but weren’t any fatter than their alcohol-free counterparts.

Another study with obese women on a weight loss diet had one group get 10% of daily calories from white wine, and another from grape juice. The result: after 3 months, the white wine group lost about 2 pounds more than the grape juice group.

The exact mechanisms at work aren’t totally clear. A likely factor is drinking can reduce your appetite for food, but it may also be related to its effects on insulin sensitivity.

Now, while it may seem like I’m encouraging you to drink to get shredded, I’m not. Alcohol consumption actually can hinder your weight loss efforts, but in an indirect way.

While alcohol itself basically can’t be stored as body fat, it blocks fat oxidation, which in turn accelerates the rate at which your body stores dietary fat as body fat.

In short, it’s not the calories from alcohol that can make you fat, but all the crap that you eat with it, which is hard to resist when you’re hammered.

So, if you want to be able to drink while dieting and still lose weight, don’t drink more than one day per week, and use the following tips to protect yourself from excess fat storage:

  • Restrict your dietary fat intake that day, and don’t eat any fatty foods while you’re drinking.
  • Get the vast majority of your calories from protein and carbs that day (with most coming from protein).
  • Stay away from carb-laden drinks like beer and fruity stuff. Dry wines are a good choice, as well as spirits.

By following these advices, you can enjoy a few drinks every week without having to feel guilty, and without ruining your weight loss regimen.

Use this workout and flexible dieting program to lose up to 10 pounds of fat and build muscle in just 30 days…without starving yourself or living in the gym.

Alcohol and Testosterone Levels

does alcohol impede muscle growth

Alcohol is going to have to face the music here. It does suppress testosterone levels, but the magnitude of this effect varies.

For instance, a study conducted by the TNO Nutrition and Food Research Institute had 10 men drink 30-40 grams of alcohol per day (2-3 beers or ounces of liquor, or 10-15 ounces of wine). After 3 weeks, their testosterone levels had dropped by about 7% (pretty insignificant).

Another study had 9 men drink 60-70 grams of alcohol after working out, and it had no effects on testosterone levels during the following 5 hours.

What happens when we increase the post-workout dose, though?

The University of Helsinki conducted a similar study, administering 1.5 g ethanol per kg of body weight (!) to 8 healthy men aged 20-26, and found that their testosterone levels dropped by 23% on average between the 10th and 16th hour after they started drinking. Furthermore, cortisol levels were elevated by 36% on average, and growth hormone secretion was heavily suppressed.

Another study conducted by the same university agreed: post-workout binge drinking is bad for testosterone production, proving that 10 beers is a poor post-workout meal (awwww shucks).

So, all things considered, if you have a few drinks here and there, you probably have nothing to worry about in terms of testosterone levels. But doing post-workout protein shots? Not a good idea.

Alcohol and Muscle Recovery and Performance

is alcohol bad for diet

In rat and in vitro studies, alcohol impairs protein synthesis. Some people directly apply that type of research to living, breathing humans and say it prevents you from building muscle and accelerates muscle loss.

Well, it doesn’t work like that. Rats and humans have major metabolic differences, and in vitro findings don’t always pan out in vivo.

In live humans, muscle-wasting effects of alcohol have only been seen in chronic alcoholics. If you have 7+ drinks per day, you’re going to have trouble building muscle. And walking. And remembering your name.

It’s also commonly claimed that alcohol consumption impairs strength and interferes with the body’s ability to repair muscle damage.

According to studies conducted by the University of Massachusetts and Aarhus University, however, alcohol has no effect on strength or indicators of exercise-induced muscle damage.

On the other hand, a study conducted by Massey University showed that 1 g of ethanol per kg of body weight after exercise magnified post-workout muscle damage. It should be noted, however, that the workout regimen used was a bit ridiculous (300 eccentric contractions on a machine for training the legs), so we can’t be sure its findings apply to more traditional, lower-volume weightlifting workouts.

To Drink or Not to Drink?

is alcohol bad for your muscles

Alcohol advocates like to talk it up as some kind of superfood, but the bottom line is it’s not necessary in any way for good health, and it won’t give you any performance benefits.

If you’re like me and don’t drink, I don’t really see any reason  for us to start. If you drink regularly, you have a lot more to worry about than interfering with muscle gainz.

But if you drink infrequently and moderately enough to not notice any after effects (no hangovers or lingering issues), then you probably don’t have any good reason to give it up altogether.


What’s your take on drinking and staying fit? Do you abstain completely or keep it moderate? Let me know in the comments below!

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Leave a Comment!
  • Big Rossy M

    Being in the British army we have a drinking culture, we’re all pretty fit.
    It’s like anything though, it’s ok in moderation

  • Mastergunz

    I have a buddy (non active duty Marine) who has a beer as a pre-workout meal, but just one. Sighting that the simple carbs provide quick burning energy and the alcohal thins the blood slightly allowing for bigger pump. Not sure if its just ‘bro-science’ but he is pretty shredded. Of course it could be that he’s a Marine also, lol. However, seems to work for him. Thoughts?

    • Lol carbs are good pre-w/o, but there are better choices out there. 😉

  • Huzaif Mistry

    Just one day a week of drinking at the most. Some weeks nothing at all. I stick to moderate carbs hit my protein macros before a sip.

    The next day I have an extra half gallon of water and spend 20 minutes on a 10% Incline treadmill

    • That’s good. I recommend restricting dietary fat on the day you’re going to drink, and def don’t have fats while drinking.

  • margaritavilleusa

    The problem with Alcohol is that it takes away from tomorrows work out, The down side is you pay for it twice. The extra calories that give you no benefit and the next day when you only get 80% or 90% of your potential results.
    I try to keep it to 2-4 times a month when I have a drink, and do my best to not eat extra while drinking or after. So times you need a break, just remember more than 2-3 drinks and you work out tomorrow will suffer.

    • It really depends how much you drink and how often. But yes, if you drink enough to have any next-day effects, your workout will suffer.

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  • bmoyer

    I absolutely love beer. But I also love working out. When I am cutting, I stay disciplined to only drink 2 beers per week. When I am not, I will likely drink 4 per week. I have never been a heavy or even average drinker by medical standards. It becomes just extra calories you don’t need as others have said.

    • While beer isn’t the best choice in terms of preventing weight gain, as long as you keep it infrequent enough to not interfere with your gains, you’ll be okay. I do recommend staying away from fatty foods while you’re drinking though.

      • Nick

        I drank a slab over the weekend and still manage to lose 1-2lbs per week. Eating strict paleo diet otherwise. God I’m good!!

        • Michael Matthews


  • Jordan Kirkpatrick

    i read in reseach that alcohol can slow your metabolism upto 70 percent? idk how many drinks a week its reffering to? lol

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha you’d have to link me that study–I’ve never seen anything like that…

  • val
    • Michael Matthews

      Wow, ridiculous.

  • Lianne

    We rarely drink. MAYBE a drink every couple of months? Feels so much better without that in my body!

    • Michael Matthews

      Nice. 🙂 An occasional drink has no downside, of course.

  • Leonardo

    I choose not drink ever i can. If i drink 4-5 times a year, it’s too much. I prefer to drink only in special days like a friend wedding or special birthday…

    • Michael Matthews

      Same here. I’m just not into it.

  • Steven Lamb

    I personally don’t drink, because I have a tendency to drink too much. I think one main disadvantage to drinking alcohol, is it saps your motivation.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah very true. Good call on just staying away from it.

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  • Levi

    Now that I have lost a good deal of fat and gained a good deal of muscle, I have noticed that a few beers gives me a big buzz and anymore than that will get me trashed. I used to be a binge drinker and could drink a 12 pack in one evening – guess it has to do with body composition. Keep this in mind if you have gained mass, lost fat, and plan to have more than a few.

    • Michael Matthews

      Probably has to do with overall health more than anything. But that’s good you’ve cut back on it. 🙂

  • Iulian Tinjala

    I just don’t see the value in drinking. It’s just an association, more emotional than logical. I am building my body. Healthy cells means healthy tissue. Healthy muscle. The truth is that in this game, the fight is only with you.

    • Michael Matthews

      I agree!

  • Budgie Mitchell

    I drink 2 days a week with 3 days gap between drinking sessions, I would be considered a binge/heavy drinker when out (I never drink to unconsciousness though!) yet I can single arm curl 30kg weights with strict form, bench press 120kgs (would have been more if not for a shoulder injury), lat pulldown 120kgs, deadlift 400lbs+.

    I’m also 41 years old, Scottish, and been lifting weights for 2 years. I can tell you, alcohol has not held me back with strength gains.

    OK, beer’s crap for weight loss, sure, I got a belly on me, but I couldn’t care less about that.

    Bottom line: Don’t believe all you read.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for the comment! Yeah, research agrees that alcohol consumption doesn’t affect strength much. You would have trouble getting lean with that much alcohol though. 🙂

      • Budgie Mitchell

        Oh yeah I know that Michael, but for me getting lean’s not important – the strength gains are. I’m curious to see how big & strong I can get. A medium-sized beer belly, I couldn’t care less about. Each to their own eh? 🙂

        All the best with your goals.

        • Michael Matthews

          Haha totally understand. Bear mode is legit. 🙂

          • geminiman7

            “Bear mode” lol

  • Jeff

    Mike, I like to have a glass of red wine daily and 2 beers per night on the weekend, but do feel that it’s been difficult to stay as lean as I’d like while doing so. It seems that the proposed health benefits may counter goals of having low body fat and appearing lean. However, it is enjoyable for me in moderation, so it’s tough to give up.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah, I would think that much alcohol will cause issues with fat storage. Any way you could reduce intake to 1-2 days per week?

      • Jeff

        Thanks Michael. I will definitely change my consumption habits in order to help me reach my physical goals. Thanks for your reply!

        • Michael Matthews

          Okay great, let me know how it goes!

  • Pat

    Hi Michael, I go out drinking once a week normally on Fridays sometimes Saturdays and it varies how much I’ll drink on the night. But would that one night affect my muscle development when I hit the gym again on Monday? 1 more question a little off topic from Alcohol but I heard by the age of 30 you can’t build no more muscle. Is that true at all? Thanks.

    • Michael Matthews

      It depends how much you drink. If it’s in moderation, no, it shouldn’t be a problem. If you’re getting plastered twice per week, that would be a problem…

      You can absolutely build muscle after 30. Hell, you can build muscle in your 70s…

  • Colin P. Müller

    What’s strange is when I’m sedentary and drink and load up on the calories, I lose weight. When I bust my ass working out and drink and carefully watch what I eat, I either gain weight or plateau.

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm sounds like it’s just a matter of losing and gaining muscle?

      • Colin P. Müller

        Not sure. I’ve only been doing cardio.

        While being sedentary, I was steadily losing 1-2 pounds a week eating close to 3000 calories (at least 400 of those being alcohol). Ever since I’ve become active 5 days a week and eating around 2000 calories, my scale doesn’t want to go down at all. I’m going to try cutting out all alcohol and see if that makes a difference.

        • Michael Matthews

          That’s very interesting. What weight were you when you were losing 1 – 2 lbs/week on 3k cal per day? And what is your weight now?

  • D.r. Couch

    Is it possible to work alcohol into your meal planning, like, saving saving some calories back from your meals and balancing it by changing your carb intake as well to compensate? Assuming you get your proper protein and don’t over-imbibe, this might work. I work in a customer facing industry where I’m often having meetings over dinner or happy hour and drinking is part of the social structure here. It’s hard and awkward to sit at a table full of people drinking and I have a glass of water. lol.. Anything about alcohol that changes the “apples to apples” when considering calories, carbs, and protein?

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah, you can adjust as discussed in this article, but there is a point where regular drinking just gets in the way.

      If you kept your drinking to 1-2 times per week, you should probably be fine.

  • kyax

    Very interesting! – I am on the tiny side (Female, mid 30’s, 5’8″ 118lbs). I usually drink about 3x/week but I have quite some drinks! For my slender frame I can hold alcohol really well (Tequila shots are usually my choice!). I do love to go running or swimming the day following drinks and then hit the sauna, I think it feels awesome and look forward to it (yes, my friends think I am insane lol). I never have hangovers and my energy levels are quite good, sometimes I feel I am stonger on my workouts those days than during days when I don’t drink?! (I workout 6d/week and my diet is more on the paleo style). The only downside is that I do not get a lot of sleep because of my hectic lifestyle, but I don’t feel super tired either, except for certain moments when I.just.need.a.nap. However, I recently went on a cleanse diet and stayed away from alcohol for 5 days straight, I did lose some considerable weight, specially on stubborn areas! Now I am wondering how much that is attributed from alcohol restriction as opposed to just the cleanse diet, which was mostly shakes, detox teas and lean protein…To give it up or not, is the question…

  • kyax

    Very interesting! – I am on the tiny side (Female, mid 30’s, 5’8″ 118lbs). I usually drink about 3x/week but I have quite some drinks! For my slender frame I can hold alcohol really well (Tequila shots are usually my choice!). I do love to go running or swimming the day following drinks and then hit the sauna, I think it feels awesome and look forward to it (yes, my friends think I am insane lol). I never have hangovers and my energy levels are quite good, sometimes I feel I am stonger on my workouts those days than during days when I don’t drink?! (I workout 6d/week and my diet is more on the paleo style). The only downside is that I do not get a lot of sleep because of my hectic lifestyle, but I don’t feel super tired either, except for certain moments when I.just.need.a.nap. However, I recently went on a cleanse diet and stayed away from alcohol for 5 days straight, I did lose some considerable weight, specially on stubborn areas! Now I am wondering how much that is attributed from alcohol restriction as opposed to just the cleanse diet, which was mostly shakes, detox teas and lean protein…To give it up or not, is the question…

    • Michael Matthews


      Haha it sounds like your body can just deal with alcohol very well. Probably a genetic thing.

      The weight loss was more likely due to the reduction in calories and carbs.

      I guess health is the main consideration here. Pounding alcohol 3x per week isn’t good for you, even if you’re able to look good…

  • broseidon

    This is a great article. I am in college so it’s hard to completely stay away from alcohol and have a great social life. I drank last night, about 4 drinks total. I haven’t drank since August but so my tolerance is extremely low. That got me drunk but not wasted. If on a week basis I drink one day on the weekend equating to roughly 60-70 grams of alcohol. With the rare occurrence of more on concerts and things like halloween, (3x a year) Would this negatively affect any muscle growth? On nights of drinking I will avoid any sugary drinks and my diet for the day will be extremely lean hitting all macros with low fats.
    Genetically I come from a family with high testosterone. I have minor hair loss and hairy in general and am 19.

    Thank you, this definitely shutdown a significant amount of myths.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Really glad you liked it.

      You should have no issues drinking once per week like that (with the occasional increase in intake), especially if you utilize the dietary strategy outlined here.

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  • Rich Wainwright

    Great article, many thanks!

    To avoid the calories in pints of lager and cider I swapped to drinking pints of soda water with a double vodka in the top. This enables me to stay in rounds with my pint drinking friends, keep really hydrated and not add 300+ calories into my system each round! I also find that I hardly have a hangover this way too.

    Red wine… Different story!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Rich!

      Yeah that’s a better way to do it for sure. Haha on the wine. We all have our vices I suppose.

      • john

        hi im 21 and i would drink 12 cans of beer every friday night. Also im wondering how does sex effect my muscle gain . should i restrain from sex?

    • Andrea

      How many calories do you add with the soda water/double vodka drink?

  • Joe dietitian

    Where did you get your sources, and from what year? I’m a dietitian working with athletes in FL, and I have seen adverse effects in relation to muscle gain/weight and drinking. Also as a rule of thumb study performed over 7 years ago, or are conducted with a limited sample size are not considered best examples and should be avoided.

    • Michael Matthews

      If you click on the links in the article, you’ll see the studies I’m citing.

      As I discuss in the article, alcohol intake can definitely have various negative effects in terms of body composition and performance, but it requires a bit more than people realize (having a few shots per week isn’t going to ruin your physique or performance).

  • frank

    Bud Lights are 116 calories a piece. I don’t drink every night but occassionally might have 3. Call it 10 a week. That is 1,160 calories a week. Would you consider that enough moderation? I could cut it back but could that possibly make any material difference. For what its worth, I am pretty lean, just weighing idea of cutting it out totally for a while. I figure this is not that different than a ‘cheat meal’. I have been avoiding cheat meals pretty well.

    • Michael Matthews

      It’s hard to say at that amount–it really depends on your body. You could cut it back for a couple of weeks and see if it does anything?

  • Daniel

    When you’re counting calories for an alcoholic beverage do you include the calories from alcohol, or just tally up the calories from carbs, protein, and fat?

    • Michael Matthews

      Calories purely from alcohol don’t matter so much, but the additional calories found in stuff like beer and mixed drinks matter.

  • Tyler

    Great article. I recently all but quit drinking 6 months ago, after seeing some pictures of me at a wedding on Facebook and realized how bloated and fat my face looked. I’m a 31 yo male lawyer, 50-60 hour work weeks, so had limited time to work out, but somehow found time to binge drink (12+ drinks) one weekend night a week and moderate (or my version of it) drink (4-5 drinks) a couple nights a week. I made a commitment to never have more than 2 drinks on a weekend night and cut out the drinking during the week all together. I’m down to zero-3 drinks a week, and it has completely changed my life. I was in great shape in college and law school, but my job slowly killed that. I now look forward to being hangover free on weekends so I have energy to work out, and look forward to going to the gym on weeknights instead of happy hour. I have gone from a gross 198lbs to 176 in 6 mos–cutting out the alcohol no doubt has helped. I also have more energy and motivation. And now when I do drink, 2 will give me a buzz so it saves money too! I’m 5’10 and my goal is get to 170 and stay there. College was fine–I binged multiple nights a week and it never affected my body and I managed to stay in shale but the past few years the pounds started packing on and when I finally noticed I decided it was enough.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for sharing Tyler! Yeah, regular moderate-to-heavy drinking is just really bad for the body, no doubt about it.

      Glad to hear you’re doing well!

    • admin nice

      Very well written and detailed article, great job! I just have one confusion/doubt regarding lumping Wine into the same category. Red wine to be more specific.
      Red wine has decent levels of a anti-oxidant compound called Resveratrol which has anti-aging, anti-cholestrol, hearth-healthy properties besides a few more. I got highest levels of recommendation from a prolific scientist recommending moderate usage of red wine. Please note, its red and NOT any other wine.
      I would be very interested to know what you may have to say on that.

      My best weight loss

  • craigM

    being a university student/gym enthusiast i have a hard time balencing the two but i dont notice a hinder on muscle recovery if i limit drinking once a week but any more my muscles tend to take far longer than normal to recover and stop being sore post workout. bottom line is drinking is a normal part of university life but my gains would stop if i drank like most of my classmates

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for the comment Craig. That makes sense.

  • ahmed bahrain

    I have noticed on many occasions when I take creatine and then at night drink alcohol like beer or wine I always have very bad headache starting middle of night till next day. Is this normal that any alcohol does not go well with taking creatine. So when I go on holiday I stopped completely taking creatine, only whey protein as I tend to drink a lot of beer when traveling out of Bahrain. When I am at home, Bahrain, I stopped to drink as I tend to drink too much in one go. I am 60 years old and now go to gym about four times a week as I am semi retired. I do not take any medicine. Therefore, is there a specific interference when taken creatine and drinking any alcohol?

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s interesting. I’ve never heard of that…

    • Alex Flora

      I would assume that your headaches come from dehydration that would likely occur with your body’s uptake of creatine (which retains water) and alcohol (a diuretic). Maybe try to make sure you are well hydrated prior to drinking alcohol and see if that helps.

      • Michael Matthews

        Good tip.

  • Ali B.

    Interesting & the best article I saw so far, I’m really curious about drinking hard liquors some of my friends says that drinking hard liquor will effect on muscle mass loss, but some again others tend to tell me that drinking hard like a 40%proof will clear toxins on me, still i don’t drink now maybe a month ago until now, and now that christmas is near there is really a great possibility that I will drink but hard not beer I’m also try to build a 6 pack abs .

    anyway is there any advice you might want to suggest if I drink occasionally will it be possible that I will drink more ? just because now I’m drink occasionally.

    thanks BTW 🙂
    College Student , @ 19 yrs old

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Ali!

      Hard liquor will affect your body in the ways outlined in this article. If you want to make the best gains in the gym, limit your drinking to once per week and use the dietary strategy given in the article.

  • Shabbz

    I drink alcohol almost every day. 6-7 drinks of scotch. And i also smoke. I work out 3-4 days a week but i don’t drink on the nights when i have to work out in the morning. Regular drinker, regular gym goer. I don’t eat any bad food with my drinks . Just some unsalted roasted almonds or cashews. And turkey breast for dinner. My diet is proper and a balance of protein, carbs and fats. I’m getting bigger and stronger everyday but i still keep on putting a lot of body fat. I highly suspect it’s the alcohol.

    • Michael Matthews

      Damn, that’s intense, hahah. Yeah, that much alcohol is going to make it REALLY hard if not impossible to get lean.

    • CONOR

      how could u put on weight drinking scotch? there’s almost no calories or fat in scotch. if ur body fats going up its not scotch anyway unless your putting a bag of sugar with every bottle

      • Michael Matthews

        Did you read the article?

      • Travis

        I think you may have mistaken a calorie free tea for your scotch.

        1 gram of alcohol has 7 calories in it.

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  • ttjtjyyy

    i just drink once a month. but i kill myself wake up totally destroyed inside head falling apart. wait a day, drink tea and lemon squeeze and im good to go. continue training like nothing happened

    • Michael Matthews


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  • rei

    Very informative article. Guess I gotta cut down on my drinking. Is there a quick way to purge the alcohol from the system? I started going jogging the day after benders, and simultaneously started taking milk thistle before and after the drinking, and it seems to be working. I don’t feel so sluggish or slow and I haven’t noticed any sort of retention other than next day bloating (beeeeeeer is bad, water is good). Anyway, just wondering if anyone had any tips…

    • Michael Matthews


      Good question. I’m not sure actually. But if you just cut it out and keep exercising, you’ll be good.

  • paulie

    Great article Mike. Ill tell you from 10 years of hard drinking that the findings of the studies are pretty much spot on. My strength never suffered and I DID drink after training.lol. put on alot of beer weight. I cut out all the booze and am making major progress. With #thelegion of course

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks man! Glad to hear you’re doing well!!

      • Daniel Radford

        when i drink i loose weight why is that???? im very cutim 6 foot 2 weight 198. i want to have one drink tonight but i dont want to get upset lol

        • RTBoss


  • Carolyn

    I used to drink a lot- but when I started getting into awesome shape I found less reasons to drink. Now it’s only when we go out to dinner or if I’m just craving a beer once a month or so. I definitely feel the bloaty effects the next day.

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s great. Enjoy the occasional drink. Nothing wrong with that.

  • nanananBatman!

    I drink 3-4 times a week pretty heavy (10-15 beers) and started gym 9 months ago. I started eating less and more healthy and started using supplements (whey, bcaa, amino…). I didn’t change my drinking habbits, but I never eat after drinking (I drink only at night). I do weight lifting 5 times a week followed by cardio (~20 min moderate to vigorous). In this 9 months my weight dropped from 96.5 kgs to 85.3, while gaining muscle (bmi from 27 to 13). My goal is 80-82 kgs (2-4 bmi), I think I will get there in about 6 months. Honestly, I think drinkin slowed my progress by at least 40%, but I enjoy it too much to quit. Btw I drink mostly beer and occasionaly spirits…

    • Michael Matthews

      Great job on your weight loss. The drinking is definitely getting in the way. You would benefit by reducing it…

  • Daniel

    I have 1-2 beers most weeknights, get pretty drunk about 2 times per month, and I smoke like 4-7 cigarettes a day. I’ve gained 12 pounds in 7 weeks by going super intense in the gym 3x/wk and eating a buttload (2500+cals, 80+g protein). My bodyfat has gone from 10 to 8% during that time period. That says nothing about my heart health though.

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha I would cut back on the drinking personally and smoking is probably the worst health choice you can make.

  • Leo

    A question on the eating in relation to drinking. If I get the study right it’s important to watch out for what you’re eating before and during drinking due to the effect on fat oxidation. What about during the day after?

    I’m considering having a moderate drinking evening followed by the cheat day I have once a week (four hour body style).

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  • Jake Camirand

    is having 1-2 oz of hard liquor a night 5 days a week going to affect me very negatively. if so how many drinks can i have a night and how many days a week?

  • Jake Camirand

    is having 1-2 oz of hard liquor a night 5 days a week going to affect me very negatively. if so how many drinks can i have a night and how many days a week?

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah probably. I would limit it to 1-2 times per week.

  • john

    hi im 21 and i would drink 12 cans of beer every friday night . also i wonder how does sex effect my muscle gain should i restrain from both ?? thanks john

    • Michael Matthews

      I would cut that back per the article (alcohol). Sex is fine.

      • Funny

        What if I drink while I have sex?

        • Michael Matthews


  • Kristina OnTheRoadToFigure

    I rarely drink, but from time to time I will go out with the girls and have a few. I usually have vodka and soda water with a twist of lime. About 3 of them and I’m toast! I am about just under a year away from my first figure competition and I wonder what is the best way to “get back on the horse.” I don’t even think I drink once a month, probably less. Should I wake up hydrate and still hit my macros like normal? My trainer said to do the same thing you explained about carbs and fats the day you drink…. Which is hard when you’re drinking, but I want to help my body recover ASAP. What’s your advice?

    • Michael Matthews

      This shouldn’t be a problem if you just follow the dietary advice given in this article. You’ll be fine.

  • lianne

    Hey Michael,
    I’m a 5’4 female 136 lbs. I spent the last two months training for about two hours/day with cardio and weights and list 13-14 lbs which I’m really happy about. I’m not a drinker and did not drink during that period but one night this week I had 4 shots of alcohol and 1 tall can of beer. I don’t plan on drinking as I go to school and try to manage training too.
    Is this going to set me back?

    • Michael Matthews

      Great job! You’re totally fine. 🙂 Keep up the good work!

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  • Anthony

    Hey Mike,
    In the article you said alcohol itself basically can’t be stored as body fat. Yet alcohol has calories. If a beer like bud light has 110 calories and 6.6g carbs (26 carb calories) with the rest of the calories coming from the alcohol, if I drink 1 beer should I only count those 26 calories for my total daily calories bc the alcohol calories can’t be stored as body fat? Or count each beer as 110 calories?

    • Michael Matthews

      Count all the calories but just know the process whereby the body converts excess calories from alcohol to body fat is VERY inefficient, to the point of being basically nothing.

      • Anthony

        Returning to this a few months later with the same issue haha. So if I hit my maintenance cals/daily goal by counting those 110 calories, but 84 are from alcohol and can’t be stored as body fat, wouldn’t it be as if I’m eating 86 calories less than my body needs?

        Also, related to the above, would I store fat if i replaced those 86 “empty” calories with 86 calories of a high protein/carb, low fat food? Because you said “alcohol…accelerates the rate at which your body stores dietary fat as body fat” …so if I don’t consume dietary fat but instead protein and carbs I’ll be good?

        • Michael Matthews

          Basically. 86 cals won’t matter anyway but…yeah.

          Sure you can replace with protein if you want.

  • Conor

    im 26 and I have always stayed fit mostly high intense cardio and hard 7 to 10 km runs but I have always been a heavy drinker since i was 15. I started weight training a year ago 4 nights a week ontop of high tempo runs and I didnt reduce my alcohol intake of 4 heavy nights a week and I still got big and I was making the same strenght gains as my friend who dosnt drink and is far stricter on his diet. im not someone who can have one drink, when I drink I drink myself to oblivion which is anywhere from 9 to 14 pints of Heineken or Guinness in a 4 to 5 hour period. I understand I have a serious problem with alcohol but I still get up and work to a high standard in a golf course, I was tunnelling and thats nothing but shoveling from 7am til 5pm and I worked harder then most. maybe my body has gotten used to it or maybe irish people have a higher tolerance. when I was in navy recruits I was always in the top 5 in fitness tests out of 40 and the fastest runner was worse then me for drinking and he wasrunning not much over 5 minute miles. I bench 85 kg 4 to 6 reps everything 3 sets, squat 55kg 4 to 6, dead lift 120kg 4 to 6 reps, military shoulder press 60 kg 4 to 6 reps, incline bench 75kg 4 to 6, 3 sets of of wide grip shoulder pull ups average 10 a set, close grip pull ups 3 sets average 7 to 10 reps. parallel and chest dips. im not trying to say look at me im great cause I know there’s kids better then that but I do look stronger and fitter then a awful lot of gym fanatics even though im a alcohol abuser

    • Michael Matthews

      Honestly it sounds like you have a great liver. My brother has gotten genetic testing done and found out his liver is just superhuman. He’s never had a hangover in his life.

      That said, keep drinking like that and it WILL catch up with you one day…

  • Daniel Radford

    when i drink ill loose weight??? is it ok if i drink one fourloco a week lol. thats my fav drink

    • Michael Matthews

      Alcohol is a diuretic so you can shed water.

  • Daniel Radford

    im very much into fitness and my diet is on point

    • Michael Matthews

      Nice man 🙂

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  • Gerald

    With drinking alcohol obviously it may hinder growth in muscles, but what about the muscle i have already built, is that going to waste away with moderate drinking?

    • Michael Matthews

      No, I don’t think so.

  • Claudio

    Great Article Michael.
    I’m Claudio from Barcelona, my english is bad but i understand all your articles and I really appreciate your work.

    Do you think could be possible to reach one digit body fat drinking one time x week something like 3/4 glass of white wine and a gin martini? More or less 600 kcal.

    It’s my saturday routine :D, no, seriously the fact is that im 25yrs and i live in barcelona is almost impossible to go out and don’t drink.

    I avoid any junk food after, im 11/12% bf now, and in the past i’v already reach 8% but withoout a single cheat meal or a drink for 4/5 months.

    Sorry again for my bad english, and thanks for your articles very inspirational.

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  • Ben Sargent

    Hey Mike, I have a question. On most websites they say that a serving of beer has say 16 grams of carbs and 170 calories. In your book you explain that 1 gram of carbs is roughly 4 calories and so forth. When I do the math on most foods it equals out but I am confused about where the calories are coming from in beer when there are only 16 grams of carbs.

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question and I’m not sure as I don’t drink beer. Have you checked it out on calorieking.com?

      • Ben Sargent

        CalorieKing made a good point that there are 14 grams of alcohol in the beer that i looked up. This article https://www.uhs.uga.edu/documents/nutrition_alcohol.pdf indicates that alcohol has 7 calories per gram. With that information the calories finally add up. If some one wanted to try and fit a beer into their meal plan for the day would it be better to pretend those calories from alcohol itself are carbs and count it towards your carb totals?

        • Michael Matthews

          Ah right. The calories in alcohol aren’t really the issue, actually. The body basically can’t convert alcohol into body fat.

        • RTBoss

          Take the alcohol calories from your fat macros – and then if you drink so much they’re all gone, take from the carb category. Get all of your protein in, and if you can help it, try not to eat during or after drinking.

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  • Pat

    Another great article Mike! I’m typically focused on hitting my macros, and I find that getting my calories and protein right are usually the toughest. However, when I save calories to have a few beers or glasses of wine that night, I notice that means that my carbs are usually way lower than what I should be hitting. I’m assuming it’s because I’m essentially taking in empty calories? And is this a major concern or am I handling it correctly by making sure I don’t go way over my calories or way low on my protein? Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews


      As long as your protein stays where it needs to be you can play with carbs and fats, but you’ll do best if you keep everything pretty steady in the day-to-day.

      Alcohol contains calories so you have to account for that.

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  • jonte

    Wonder if my intakes is damageing my muscle gain . I am 21 years male and are drinking my self really really drunk. I can Puke etc but i only drink about 1 time a month and maximun 2 time a month ( can happen on special day ) and i thought that it wont because is not so often but you made me wonder now . Whats your opinion?

    • Probably not helping because you probably feel like shit for a few days after, which means your training suffers?

  • Tomas

    Hey i come from your reply on youtube and this absolutly helped me thanks again mike
    Always helpful to learn more

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  • Vlad

    Just to share a little. I used to binge around 3 times a week. I would work out but I could definitely feel it. The main issue was that I was feeling so tired and hungover after binging that I wouldn’t want to work out anymore. I was skipping workouts or just giving myself excuses why not to push so hard, because I felt I wasn’t fully recovered. I completely quit drinking 4 months ago and I lost during this time about 15 pounds while putting on visible muscle. I did insanity first and now I do p90x. I did those programs before but I couldn’t keep up and saw little gains. While I haven’t changed my diet all that much I completely cut out junk food (you don’t want it if you’re not hungover) and beer. Personally I don’t see how you can be a heavy drinker and get in shape. You might be able to stay somewhat ok but overall you won’t do very well, especially since it will mess with your stomach and intestines and make you feel like crap and so on. I could not get below 90 kg while drinking no matter what and when I quit I went down from 92 to 85 within 2-3 months.

    • Thanks for sharing Vlad. Yeah, too much drinking basically kills progress in the gym.

  • Charlotte

    In one of the comments below, a man asked if he drinks a beer which 86 of the 110 calories would be “empty” calories if he could then eat those 86 cal. in the form of protein to reach his TDEE. You said yes. So does that mean if you have say 4 shots of vodka (400 calories) throughout the night, which has no carbs, fat or protein, then should you still eat those 400 calories of food. Or are you supposed to minus the 400 from your TDEE?

    I’m going on vacation and we drink daily. In this article it says to restrict fat when drinking alcohol. But should I really eat barely any fat for a week straight? I’m just wondering what my best choices are to not gain fat, while drinking quite a bit throughout the vacation.


    • Good question. Calories from alcohol itself basically “don’t count” as your body basically can’t convert them into body fat.

      I would keep my fat down around 0.2 to 0.3 grams per pound of lean mass for the week.

      • John Doe

        Hi Mike! So what does your body do with the alcohol calories (if it can’t convert them into fat.. like the 64 ‘calories’ in 1oz of 80-proof liquor). ?

          • John Doe

            I took a look at that very article here before posting.

            Why list alcohol calories then on a beer if they are not processed at all (as opposed to just include carb calories?)

            You had mentioned that alcohol does not convert to fat very reliably – but does it convert into any energy whatsoever – such as short term energy (like a normal gram of carbs?) I know this is rather technical, but I’m in a bit of disbelief that alcohol calories don’t count as dietary calories at all.

            This basically makes a vodka martini a “free pass” drink (except for the penalty of blocking fat oxidation)?

            I’m rather surprised, because I’ve successfully cut almost ~22lbs of fat from my 5’7″ frame while making strength gains since January (going from ~20% to 10% BF) approximately…. but in my calculations I always included alcohol calories on the weekend as normal calories. Given that they “don’t count” – I really should have lost even more. Based on the “they DO count” math – I was perfectly on track for the calorie deficit. Apologies if this is confusing, but it now feels like something is off…

          • They might have to legally.

            Honestly I don’t drink so I can’t speak from experience on counting alcohol calories but what I know for a FACT is alcohol itself just isn’t converted into body fat easily, if at all.

            My guess is you weren’t getting THAT many cals from alcohol each weekend? A few hundred?

  • Shannon

    Hey Mike! When I look at the nutrition facts for regular vodka, there is no carbs, fats or sugars, but a shot has 97 calories. Where do these calories come from? And is vodka as bad for me if it doesn’t have the carbs and fat?

  • Guest

    Hey Mike!
    This is unrelated, but I am so, so confused.
    A carbohydrate is a carbohydrate whether it’s dextrose, galactose, or fructose or anything, right? They all yield 4 calories per gram. The difference is how quickly they are absorbed- i.e. if it was a disaccharide vs. monosaccharide- and what their functions are, right?
    Aren’t all of them stored the liver but only glucose stored in the muscle?
    What’s the point of eating fruit, then? The liver only stores so much glycogen, wouldn’t it just overload if someone where to only eat fructose/galactose pWO and lead to fat gain?
    It doesn’t seem reasonable, but I always hear that you shouldn’t be focused on eating fruit or dairy after a work out. What are other simple, fast-acting dextrose sources that aren’t loaded with fructose?

    • Yeah some starchy carbs are “ideal” for post-workout, although I do a combo with some fruit.

  • Brian Giffin

    This is a good article Mike. I recently gave up drinking during the week and intend on limiting it to one day a week or only on special social events. I’m 43 and noticed that I’m not hitting my body fat goals and alcohol consumption is really all I can blame as I watch my Macros and eat clean . I don’t believe it’s my age, I’m constantly improving in the gym however I did a ton of vacationing this year with family and friends which involved a lot of drinking!!!

    • Good idea on only drinking once a week or at social events. Let’s do it.

      Good to hear you’re constantly getting stronger. Keep that up!

      That tends to happen on vacations haha. Just make sure you’re not over doing it so it’s effecting the gains!

      • Brian Giffin

        Just to touch base on this. I have been sticking to my once a week program. Weight is the same but body composition looks better. I use to look puffy now with the reduction in alcohol noticing a bit more definition. If I do have a day coming up when I know i’m going to have a couple of drinks whats my best meal plan? I know to reduce my fat to as low as possible and keep my protein high but should I attempt to register/count the alcohol calories as part of my daily diet or just continue to eat clean and not count them? I guess a calorie is a calorie therefore it should be counted right?

        • Nah, just stick to keeping the fat low and protein high. The cals from alcohol cannot be converted to fat in the body. It does block fat oxidation though.

        • Guest

          Wheat/gluten can make you look puffy…might want to consider the type of alcohol consumption.

  • Daniel Henao Posada

    Hi Mike,

    The day I drink I must keep low fat and carbs, what about the day after drinking? should I continue keeping them low or I can eat normally?

    How much time does it take to our body to get rid of alcohol and restore fat oxidation?

    • Good question. I’m actually not sure–don’t remember off the top of my head. Try Googling around and see what you can find.

    • Dave

      I believe our bodies metabolise 1 unit of alcohol per hour on average (possibly how the “unit” was established?). So that’s how long the alcohol stays in your system. Perhaps the liver takes extra time to recover to normal fat oxidation levels.

  • Kevin T


    I am a senior in college and I take my training and nutrition serious. I am not currently training for a mens physique show but I plan to do one in the future. My roommates and friends like to go out and drink (heavy) every weekend, and I am not a big fan of drinking but I still want to go out and have fun with them. Every time that I go out and drink with them I feel bad, because I feel like I am wasting all the time I put into training and my nutrition. What would you suggest I do, so that 1.) I don’t ruin my physique, and 2.) can still go out and have fun with them?


    • I hear you man.

      You can still go out without ruining your physique.

      Did you read the article?

  • Paul

    Another great article Mike, very informative! Out of curiosity, is fat oxidation blocked with just one drink, or is there some grams of alcohol per body weight associated with it?

    • Thank you! It’s dose dependent so the more you drink, the more you see this effect.

  • Dave

    Hi Mike, I’m about to go on holiday so was looking into what I can get away with 🙂 very useful.

    In your comments to the Massey University study, you say it’s a bit unrealistic. I think though that you could say 300 reps is like going for a run. In turn you could argue that people who play sports and then have a drinking session afterwards (pretty common in the UK) need to watch out. Personally I play rugby and this is regularly followed by copious alcohol and bad meal choices (something I’m working on reducing).

  • Pharamcydropship

    Very nice post.

  • Dacero

    Hey Mike!! Very good article!! In the article you mention that you dont drink alcohol, why is that? Dont you feel pressured sometimes when your peers are drinking or you are in a party?

    Pst. I dont drink either, maybe a beer every 3-4 months, I dont see any benefit in alcohol outside of getting yourself loose you with the girls 🙂

    • Thanks!

      I just never got into it for whatever reason. Dunno.

      Nah peer pressure is irrelevant to me. I do what I want and if my friends think it’s dumb/whatever…I don’t give a shit, haha.

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  • Mike, as far as alcohol & macros, I know it’s different since it’s ethanol, but how do you track it with macros? Would it be a carb? A fat? I know you recommend limiting fat consumption on the days you have alcoholic beverages, but just curious as to how to track it in relationship to macros. For instance, if a 5oz glass of wine has 120ish calories with 3.7g carbs and nothing else listed, do you do like a quick add of 26.3g extra of carbs (or like 11.6g fat) to make up for the calorie difference? Thank you in advance, not sure if this makes sense!

    • It wouldn’t be counted as any macro. The cals from the alcohol itself aren’t counted since they cannot be converted to fat in the body. All other cals in the drink are tracked and counted, though.

      My pleasure. Hope this clears it up. Talk soon!

  • Jenny Mendez

    Hi Mike,

    I was just wondering if say I had a glass or 2 of wine on the weekend do you suggest keeping calories low for that day or eating my macros for the day and just not counting the calories from the wine since there are no added mixers/calories from anything else.

    I read on a macro calculator that said for example… “Five ounces of red wine has 125 calories. If we decide to fit it into our carbs, we’ll divide the calories by 4; so it counts as “31g carbs.” If we wanted to plug the wine into our fat allotment, we’d divide by 9 and count it as “14g fat.” – should I follow this guideline or just eat my cutting TDEE as is and disregard the calories from the alcohol.


  • JB

    I eat at a calorie deficit five days a week, almost to the point of starvation and I work out aerobic/weigh training every other day. (low cal 2 days, normal cals 1 day) BUT… on Fridays, I drink six beers (Bells Two Hearted) with a low fat/high protein diet. (I also do twice the cardio on Fridays). I’ve lost 25 lbs in two months.
    I just now hit a plateau and am working though it with an increased calorie diet for a full week but that’s a side note.
    As for drinking beer… I have yet to see any problems with the way I’m doing it. For anyone going to try this, keep in mind, it’s ONLY one day a week and I’m not eating chicken wing and nachos on that day! Consider it a reward for a good week of discipline but don’t use it to overindulge.
    Good luck.

  • guitar_shredda*

    Mike great article! I enjoy trying different craft beers so I will have 2 or 3 total on the weekend, is that a decently low amount? I dont drink to get hammered I just enjoy a good drink or 2!

    • Thanks! No problem at all, keeping it in moderation.

  • Andrew

    Wait Mike I am confused. So if I have a shot of Jack Daniels which is 80 calories, do I count those 80 calories as part of my daily caloric intake? No mixer just straight alcohol. Also, I am on a bulk. Thanks.

    • Absolutely! It has calories, so of course it would get tallied up with the rest of your food intake that day.

    • Hey Andrew, with no chaser or mixer and just straight alcohol, the actual alcohol does not count.

  • Alex M

    Hey Mike, I have a few scenarios/questions to help get some clarity on this issue. Sorry for the length, but I’m really having trouble fully understanding how the alcohol calorie thing works! You may not know the answers, but I thought it was worth a shot :).

    Let’s assume in these scenarios, the person’s maintenance calories are 2,000.

    Scenario 1: Person consumes only alcohol (shots, dry wine etc.) and water for the day. Would none of these calories count and it would be as if they fasted all day? I know this is not realistic but I’m using it as an extreme to fully understand.

    Scenario 2: Person consumes 1,500 food calories that day and then at night drinks 1000 cals of spirits/dry wine etc. Would the person be in a 500 calorie deficit for this day rather than 500 surplus?

    Scenario 3: Person consumes 1,500 food calories during the day, drinks 500 calories of spirits/dry wine at night and then eats 500 calories of oil. Assuming alcohol calories don’t count, the calories from the oil would NOT be stored as fat since the food calories for the day were at 2000/maintenance? Or in this case, because the oil was consumed with the alcohol and lipolysis is halted, the alcohol calories actually do come into play (with the 500 calories of alcohol taking the place of the 500 from oil, leaving a surplus of 500 from the oil, even though total food calories for the day were actually maintenance)?
    Scenario 4: Scenario 3 but instead of 500 cals of oil, it’s 500 cals of apples (i.e. almost all carbs instead of fats). How would this differ from Scenario 3?

    Scenario 5: Scenarios 3 and 4 but instead of 500 calories of alcohol, it’s 1000 calories (i.e. 1,500 food calories during day + 1000 alcohol calories + 500 cals of oil/apples after). If alcohol calories don’t count, this shouldn’t differ from the the outcomes of Scenario 3 and 4, right?

    Scenario 6: Scenario 3 but only 100 calories of alcohol are consumed with the 500 cals of oil (instead of 500 cals of alcohol).

    Basically (lol), what I’m trying to understand is: is it the act of eating food/fats at the same time as alcohol (regardless of how much alcohol) that is the problem (even if under/at maintenance from the food calories i.e. Scenarios 3/4/5/6) or as long as you keep the alcohol and food/fats separate, you won’t gain fat even if the alcohol calories make it appear that you are over your maintenance calories (i.e Scenario 2)?

    Thanks so much for your help!

    • Hey Alex, the alcohol calories aren’t processed–and therefore not counted. But, if there’s anything else in the drink (ie. mixer, syrup, juice, sugars, etc) those would count. Eating the fatty foods at the same time is the problem. Not the alcohol itself.

      • Alex M

        Hey Mike, thanks for the fast reply. I understand that in general, but what I’m asking is if the fatty foods are within your calorie allotment for the day (I.e. Eating the fatty food calories will not take you over maintanence) then does it matter if it’s consumed at the same time as the alcohol?

        • Welcome! The laws of energy balance still apply. So, if you stay within your cutting cals, it shouldn’t be an issue.

          That being said, if it eating fats when drinking is something you plan on doing regularly, it can have an effect on your long-term results. And of course, if you do end up going over TDEE for any reason, the fat you did eat will be stored as body fat much easier than usual.

          Hope that clears it up!

  • JunkMonkey

    So just to be sure I understand how to count calories here, how do we determine what is alcohol vs other sources? Do you just subtract out the calories x ABV? In other words, let’s say I have a shot of bourbon at 80 Cals and 40% ABV. Would that suggest that I count 60% of the 80 calories as my caloric intake since the alcoholic calories aren’t processed? So I would be getting 48 non-alcohol calories from the drink?

    • Right — the calories coming directly from alcohol “don’t count,” in a sense.

      • JunkMonkey

        Got it. Thanks for the help!

        • NP!

          • Dave Rosati

            So then if I were to have a pint of beer with 15g of carbs, I’d just count it as 60 calories (i.e. 15g carbs x 4 cal. per g) even though technically a pint of beer has about 200 calories in it?

            I limit weekly alcohol intake and also minimize fat intake on any day when I’m going to have alcohol, but just want to know how many calories of protein and carbs I’m allowed that day, so I want to be sure about how much to deduct from my daily calorie limit on account of the drinks

          • Not quite. You still have any unfermented carbs in the beer to count since beer isn’t pure alcohol.

          • Dave Rosati

            Sorry, by “beer with 15g of carbs” I meant that there are 15g of carbs in the beer itself.

            For instance, according to My Fitness Pal:
            – Pint of beer is 200 cal., with macros being 1g protein and 15g carbs
            – Glass of wine is 110 cal., with macros being 1g protein and 5g carbs
            – Shot of any spirit (vodka, whisky, rum, etc.) is 60 cal., with no macros

            I just want to know how much I count each of these as toward my daily calorie intake. My understanding from your articles is that I would count them as follows:
            – Beer = 64 cal., being 16g protein/carbs times 4 cal. per g
            – Wine = 24 cal., being 6g protein/carbs times 4 cal. per g
            – Spirits = 0 cal. because straight alcohol with no macros

            Is this correct?

          • Ah gotcha! Yes, that’s the best estimate I’d go by as well.

      • Rich Wainwright

        So you just count the calories from the carbs, protein etc, not the alcohol, yeah? Thanks again for your brilliant articles 🙂

        • If you only drink once in a blue moon, that’s fine, but if it’s a regular part of your meal plan you should count it.

  • So, it’s definitely bad for me to eat a plate of nachos if I’m having six or seven drinks that same night. But do these guidelines apply if I’m only having one drink? e.g. Is a plate of nachos plus one glass of wine worse than nachos plus a cup of juice?

    • I’d skip the nachos, TBH. But, if you must have them, then the wine is better than the juice. What drink you have definitely matters, since some have other carbs and sugars floating around in addition to the alcohol. Those carbs definitely will count as calories.

  • Steven Camacho

    Hey Mike, great article it’s nice to hear a non-biased side to the alcohol Boggie man. If my plan is to bulk/workout Sunday through Thursday, (eating my exact macro amounts along with Triumph, fish oil, recharge, egg protein at night etc.) meaning I am doing BLS’ 5-day split with foam rolling would I still have a good chance of making strength gains and muscle growth if I am also drinking Friday and Saturday. I am in college and I tend to keep the alcohol to very light beer or dry vodka while meeting my daily limit of protein (1.2g per body weight) an hour prior to having my first sip.

    Thank you for your time and information!

    • Thanks! Yeah, that’s fine if you want to drink. Just keep it to a minimum.

  • David Dietsch

    What do you mean by fatty foods? I can’t have avocado, olive oil or any other healthy fat while consuming alcohol? Or are you talking about greasy foods like wings, pizza, nachos, fries and ect. If I keep my fat intake around 25 to 30 percent eating the healthy foods I normally eat… along side a few beers or 1 or 2 glasses of wine I’ll gain weight while eating at maintenance calories? I always thought as long as you weren’t in a surplus you can’t gain fat.

    • I’d limit the fat intake, yes. That’s including all fats. Alcohol will cause your body to store that fat more easily as opposed to using it for energy.

  • Michael D’Acquisto

    Hey Mike, I was wondering your take on Resveratrol found in red wine. Would one or two glasses of red wine a night be so bad for muscle gains or cutting especially if you are getting resveratrol which has many health benefits?

  • Jacques Mullenax

    Hey I only have a once a month and it red wine like two glasses of it. And right know also cutting and watching my fat intake also so if I read this right it not bad for you But don’t over do it correct

  • georgia

    Hey Mike – struggling to get a definitive answer here after some research. What would you find the best option with regards to when to train on a day of which you know you’ll be having a few drinks?
    1) Wright train in the morning, followed by post work carbs (plus protein obviously) and then focus on protein for the rest of the day, limitting carbs and fat for lunch and dinner – here then the drinks are consumed…
    2) weight train early evening shortly followed by your postwork meal… but again here being where drinks are consumed.
    There seems to different ideas on when is best to train on drinking days? Whether it should be spaced out or whether to enjoy your meal out with postworkout carbs with alcohol.
    Thank you!

    • Hey Georgia! If you’re going to have a few drinks, you can still train as you normally would, and have it with your postworkout meal. No big impact there.

  • Cristi

    Hi Mike, any thoughts on Resveratrol? The equivalent of a galss of red wine per day they say…I see a lot of guys at the gym taking one pill/day.

    ps: Soon I’ll send you my transformation to post if you want to (where do I send it tho?).

  • Georgia


    If it’s the calories from alcohol in drinks that aren’t easily stored as body fat then would it be an option to fit a pint of lager containing 40 calories from carbs into my meal plan? Then let the remaining calories from alcohol go? Is there another reason other than calories from carbs that you recommend to stay away from beer?


    • You can. There are still carbs not from alcohol in beer, though. You gotta count those. If that’s 40g of carbs, or 160cals not from alcohol, count it in!

  • Listen pals! I’ve been dronning three nights a week and lifting at least three times a week too, and also been doing alot or running and walking. It does no harm at all on your muscle building and you dont get chubby or anything! The trick is simply to keep an eye on your calories on a weekly basis! I’m pretty slim and muscular at the same time and alcohol (even binge drinking) has no severe or even effect on my body! And I dont even have that high a metabolism! My trick is to simply stay away from to much junk food, especially when going out, just making sure that my protein intake is high EVERY DAY and making sure that I keep lifting some times a week! This is the trick! And it’s not that hard! Really all this “a little sometimes” or “stay away completely” speeches makes me sick! You can be a big alcoholic and still stay in shape! Please spare me from moral speeches about whats to much drinking and what is not! As long as you can keep up with your workouts and eat healthy in general, going out in the weekends wont harm you even close to how much these preachers try to tell you. It’s a scare-campaign and it’s global! The point of working out is that you shouldnt worry that much about your drinking in the weekends or your candy or whatever you crave. Be a good person and keep up with your workouts! And of course you should allow yourself some beers even alot if you want to! Trust me! It does close to no harm! I even trues completely without alcohol for a long time! Did it change anything regarding my bodys look? No! Was I bored? Hell Yearh! Live life and work out, eat healthy and Owe yourself what the weekend what invented for! Time to relax and enjoy yourself! Please!

    • Hey!

      There’s certainly nothing wrong with avoiding alcohol, but as you said, it’s also fine to indulge in moderation. It’s great you found a system that works for you.

  • Yeah… this is my greatest challenge in fitness, cuz NYC (where I live) doesn’t suggest alcoholism, it basically requires it.

    I find the toughest part is not the actual calories from the act or drinking, itself… it’s the fact that I often skip the gym the next day, and due to dehydration (or well, this is my guess, at least)… my body wants the shittiest/not so healthy foods all the following day… like a bottomless pit.

    I was actually going to ask your thoughts on alcohol,but I found my answer here. Thanks again for being ontop of every topic, Michael Matthews 👍🏽.

    • Hey Michael, I’m glad you liked the article! Yeah, alcohol and bingeing on/craving fatty foods often go hand in hand, which can make regular fat loss pretty tough.

      Thanks for the support!

  • This is so informative and do know about Sore Muscles After Drinking effect. To know more about it visit through the link http://www.myhealthdosage.com/sore-muscles-after-drinking-most-common-side-effect/

  • Taylor Kuzik

    I typically have the occasional alcoholic beverage once a week or so and have no more than one in addition to certain holidays like Independence Day or welcoming in the new year. I drink water to stay hydrated. I don’t eat anything with it so it gives my body time to flush that stuff out.

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