Is a drink a day heart healthy or wrecking your fat loss goals? Let’s dive in.
I’ll never forget the day Chris and I brought our third kid home from the hospital. The reality of being out-numbered by our own children set in quickly. After abstaining from alcohol my entire pregnancy, I held out my wine glass delightfully. “It’s heart healthy,” I said. I remembered reading that somewhere and I had never been happier to gulp it down, purely for health reasons of course.
Within a few months I started my macro journey to lose the baby weight postpartum and what I learned from my research on alcohol had me shedding a few tears. Our purpose in giving our clients the information we have about alcohol is NEVER about guilting or shaming. Like I said before, I was happily drinking my glass a night as an overwhelmed mama of 3, but rather to educate on how your body responds to alcohol so that you can decide when it’s worth it.
In the macro counting world, we call alcohol the 4th macro.
Protein: 4 calories/gram
Carbs: 4 calories/gram
Fats: 9 calories/gram
Alcohol: 7 calories/gram
Your body doesn’t recognize alcohol the way that it does other macronutrients. Instead, it treats it as a poison to your body. Before your body can metabolize any other food in your body, it metabolizes the alcohol FIRST. Which means, if your body is working hard everyday to metabolize your alcohol, the rest of your fat burning process is taking a back seat. You can learn more about what we’ve learned about alcohol in THIS VIDEO.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking to do everything you can to make progress on your fat loss goals, limit alcohol consumption as much as possible. I know it’s a sacrifice, and it doesn’t mean you’ll have to give up your glass of wine forever, but being more intentional when deciding to splurge will do your body good!
Now that we went over the macro basics when it comes to that mysterious 4th macro, let’s talk about some ways to minimize damage when consuming alcohol while macro tracking. Remember scanning the label won’t give you an accurate representation of macros/calories consumed when it comes to alcohol. Yes, your glass of red wine is only 3 carbs, but it certainly has more than 12 calories. 5 oz of red wine is actually 125 calories. The Alcohol/Macro conversion charts below are to be used as guidelines to ensure those calories actually get assigned to a macro, so that we aren’t giving ourselves “free” and untracked calories with the alcohol we drink while tracking.
It’s sobering (pun intended) to see 440 calories of alcohol take up 110g of your daily carb allotment, but it gives a much better representation of the sacrifice you’ll need to make if you’re trying to get alcohol to fit into your macro budget.
This process is all about giving you flexibility while opening your eyes to the consequences of your choices. Now that you’ve got the details on alcohol and macro tracking you can make a more informed decision to determine when it’s worth it and when it’s not.