Don’t Cheat on Your Beer During a Diet: Smart Ways to Lose Fat While Drinking

by | Fitness, Weight Loss

Not going to lie. It’s hard to maintain your normal drinking habits during a diet. In fact, it’s usually a very bad idea. One crazy weekend can easily ruin weeks of progress.

However, there are ways to keep enjoying your favorite beer without blowing your diet.

The Pros of a Night Out During a Diet

Let’s be realistic. Most social events involve drinking. It’s hard to stay sober when going out. We drink alcohol because we enjoy the taste, helps up loosen up, or we simply like feeling tipsy.

Unless you go overboard, a couple of drinks can help you unwind and have fun. Life can be stressful. Dieting is not making things easier. When we get overwhelmed everything falls apart. Sometimes it’s okay to be less rigid and enjoy the little things in life.

Stress itself can prevent you from losing weight. A well-timed fun night out can even help you break through a weight plateau. However, too much party and booze will cause more harm than good. You need to be careful.

The information here will help you maximize fat loss while still being able to enjoy your favorite drinks.

How to Drink Without Messing Up Your Weight Loss?

Okay, you’re not an idiot. You already know moderation is key. Alcohol has plenty of calories. Over-consumption will lead to weight gain. Drinking also clouds your judgment. You want a clear mind when passing by the taco truck at 4 am on you feel the munchies.

Here are a few strategies to help you manage alcohol during a diet:

  • create a buffer: limit food prior to going out, save calories to “spend” on drinks
  • do damage control: eat less the day after; fasting is also an option
  • choose less-caloric drinks: more about this later
  • set clear limits: no more than X number of drinks
  • explain your goal to your friends: minimize peer-pressure & get support
  • pick your route back home strategically: avoid tempting fast food joints

A word of caution: some people have a hard time exercising self-control. Also, the leaner you want to get the less flexibility you have. There are times when the best approach is to give up drinking temporarily.

Alcohol Science: How Much Before You Do Real Damage?

There are 3 things you want to prioritize:

  • limiting calorie consumption
  • keeping a clear mind
  • avoiding a hangover

Let’s not forget alcohol is a toxin. It’s treated like poison by the body. Your system will work hard to neutralize it. Yes, the side effects can be fun. But anything more than a few drinks is bad for your health. 

Calories from Alcohol

You need to manage your overall caloric consumption. This includes food and drinks. Drinking on top of your usual food intake may affect weight loss. A couple of drinks once a week may have a rather small effect. But anything more starts to add up fast.

To keep losing weight the total sum of calories from alcohol and food has to remain low. This creates a problem. If you start having too many drinks your meal portions will have to get smaller. You can’t reduce food consumption indefinitely. There’s always a trade-off to be made.

Most people can easily enjoy a beer a day. Or maybe 2-3 drinks during the weekend. Anything more may leave you starving. Especially at the end of a diet when calories are lowest. If you hit a weight plateau alcohol is probably the first thing you have to eliminate.

Drunk Decisions

You also want to consider the effect of alcohol on your decision making. That shouldn’t be a problem if you’re limiting consumption.

But when drinking on an empty stomach it doesn’t take much to get you drunk. If you can’t think clearly you may end up making all manner of bad decisions. Including going over the diet limitations. Or continue drinking late into the night.

When you plan a night out don’t focus exclusively on the number of drinks that fit your caloric budget. Consider their effect as well.

Hangover and Training

Lastly, you want to avoid your performance being affected. If you’re hungover the next day you’ll have a hard time getting things done. This includes training. And exercise is an important part of every good weight-loss program.

Recovery and muscle growth may also suffer. Alcohol reduces sleep quality. It impacts other recovery processes as well. Drinking also affects testosterone acutely. So your training can take a hit.

Follow the recommendations in the 2 sections above. Limit calories and avoid getting too drunk. This will naturally minimize the negative effects of alcohol.

The Weekend Warrior’s Pro Tips: Drinking & Getting Lean

To lose fat you need to consume fewer calories. That’s the goal of dieting. However, a few too many drinks can easily cancel the caloric deficit created by your eating habits.

You can use the general drinking tips highlighted above. But you also need to consider your own personality. Different people will need a slightly different approach.

Here are the most common personality types when it comes to drinking. Find the one you resonate the most with.

The Connoisseur

You’re the type of person who genuinely enjoys the taste of alcohol. It’s not about getting wasted. But about savoring each drink. You have a refined taste and you’re loyal to your favorite brands.

However, you tend to get carried away during social events. You may unconsciously cross the point where you go from cherishing each sip to simply drinking for the sake of drinking.

If you can’t tell when this happens, create clear rules and limitations. For example, no more than 2 or 3 drinks per night. It’s also a good idea to cap the number of days you’re allowed to drink

This will make each sip more enjoyable. The experience of going out and having a couple of drinks becomes special. The less you have access to something the more pleasure it brings you when you finally get it.

The Heavy Drinker

You’re the type of person who likes to drink for the sake of drinking. Doesn’t take a lot to convince you to do another round of shots. It’s part of your personality. You’re the guy who drinks a lot. You may have certain preferences. But ultimately it doesn’t matter much.

First, determine how much control you have:

  • going against your nature isn’t easy but still possible, you can control yourself
  • no matter what you’ve tried to limit drinking you always end up wasted

If you’re the first type of guy you can occasionally enjoy a couple of drinks. But you still want to limit going out. Also, be careful about spending too much time with your drinking buddies. The combination of prolonged dieting, the environment, and peer-pressure will drain your willpower.

If you lack self-control your best bet is to go cold turkey. You may also have to stop going out if you associate the bar with getting wasted. Be verbal about this. Talk to your friends and explain your reasons. Remove temptations from your environment. Don’t keep beer in the fridge.

The Social Guy

Drinking is more of a habit than anything else. You like socializing and often there’s alcohol involved. Over time you got used to having a drink in your hand while talking to people.

But drinks add up, even if you’re not purposely trying to get wasted. Snacking after a long night is also another risk. Alcohol can increase your appetite and cravings, even if you’re not technically drunk.

The good news is you can easily alter your habits. Replace your usual drink with something less caloric and/or alcohol-free. Even gin tonic can do the trick. You’re probably just used to having something in your hand. So almost anything will do.

Talk to others and explain why you’re not drinking. A great way to start new conversations. Having 1 or 2 drinks at the beginning of the night fine. But stop there and later switch to something more diet-friendly.

The Awkward Introvert

Alcohol gives you courage and helps you talk to people. You’re not picky. Anything that gives you a nice buzz and gets you out of your head works. You can control yourself for the most part. Once the desired effects are achieved you simply stop.

The solution to your problem depends on your ultimate goal:

  • actively trying to improve your social skills
  • no long-term goal, just want to have fun during the rare occasions you do go out

If your goal is to improve your people skills be careful with alcohol. You may become heavily reliant on it. Also, you don’t learn much when your perception of reality is distorted. Drinking puts a bandage on the problem, doesn’t solve it. Go sober and develop real social skills.

However, you may be fine keeping your distance from others. You rarely attend social events. But you want to have fun when you do go out. In your case drinking is not a concern. The risks are minimal when you out 3-4x a year. One “crazy” night won’t ruin your diet.

Which Alcoholic Beverages Are More Diet-Friendly?

There are two ways you can measure calories in drinks. You look at energy content per 100 ml (3.5 fl oz), or a typical serving.

  • beer: 45 kcals per 100ml / 150 kcal per serving (12 oz)
  • wine: 85 kcals per 100 ml / 150 kcals per serving (5 oz)
  • spirits: 250 kcals per 100 ml / 100 kcals per serving (1.5 oz)
  • mixed drinks: 100 to 200 kcals per 100 ml / 100 to 500 kcals per serving (2.5 – 8 oz)

Beer and wine contain the least amount of energy per 100 ml. However, you tend to consume the most amount of those drinks. Spirits are stronger, hence you consume far less. Mixed drinks are a caloric bomb. They may contain a lot of sugar and additional calories.

If you want to get a nice buzz, spirits are your most cost-effective option. A glass of wine or a bottle of your favorite beer are also okay. Provided you can stop there. Calories from these two alcoholic beverages add up quickly.

Cocktails and mixed drinks are your worst option. Too many calories. Bad choice when trying to lose weight. Also, beware of chasers and mixers. It’s best to go for zero-calorie options.

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