I’m sure you’ve prob thought, like I did, you can’t drink and lose weight. Forget about drinking everyday.
I mean it’s just something you can’t do. Diets and weight loss are all about restriction and eating “clean foods”, right? And if you eat foods that you enjoy like chips, cake and drink beer then you’ll never lose weight…
Or can you?
Over the course of 30 days I ate all these, some of them on a consistent basis, all while losing 7 pounds. Well in complete transparency, I lost all the weight in 27 days. I ended up getting sick and having to stop the challenge on the 27th day. But my point was made.
Remember those Jet commercials where people’s heads exploded?
I want that to happen after you read this. The whole point of me doing this to show you is that you can lose weight while having some drinks and the foods you enjoy.
Too many people live in this black and white world when it comes to getting in shape. It’s not like that. Everything falls into this hairy grey world.
Yes, you can lose weight while eating “non-diet”/”bad”/whatever the hell else you call it foods and this is how you do it.
But first, let’s start this out with a little drink montage.
Why I Did This
Before we get into all this, I want you to check this video out.
My Calories Before
When starting out on a diet, you always want to come in after a period of higher calories. The goal of a diet should be to lose weight with the most calories possible.
A diet to reduce body fat is a journey. Much like a road trip is a journey.
Odds are you wouldn’t start a road trip with no gas, right?
Which is like starting your diet from a period of low calories.
Start by coming from maintenance level or higher.
Taking calories away from an already low amount will lead to more aggravation and feeling like weight loss will never happen rather than the goal you want.
So before coming into the 30 Days of Drinking, I was eating around 2500-2800 calories a day.
Note: That day of 1583 calories, I didn’t log any dinner so it’s safe to assume I was still in the 2500-2800 range.
With a rough breakdown of:
Protein – 220g
Carbs – 231g
I had been at this calorie amount for a couple of months and my weight had been stable, minus the minor 1-3 pound fluctuation based on water weight and if it had been a few days since I laid some heat.
My Calories After
Knowing I needed to reduce calories and from my experience earlier in the year dropping 20 pounds, I knew how much to drop calories.
I needed to drop calories to 2100-2200 from the 2700-2800 I was eating.
A 20% drop usually isn’t my go-to for new clients unless they are on a tight deadline. The goal of a diet should be to lose weight with the most calories possible. And a 20% drop is very aggressive.
In this instance I had to be. Normally anywhere from 5-15% is a good place to start. While I understand the urgency and sometimes aggressive diets do work (in the short term) it’s not a lifestyle. And that should be your aim. Can you see yourself doing this same diet in 6 months?
If not and your not on a very specific deadline (i.e. wedding, photo shoot) opt for the long term approach. This is going to be more better-er if you want to enjoy life too.
If you don’t know your maintenance calories, my suggestion would be to find it. There’s a couple ways to do that.
The long term way:
Start with an online calculator for a ballpark amount and track your weight for a couple of weeks.
-Take the weekly averages and compare them.
-If your trendline is pretty flat, that’s maintenance.
-After you find your maintenance, drop calories by 5% and track your weight for a few more weeks.
-If there’s a downward trend stay at this amount until it doesn’t work anymore. If it stays the same, drop calories by another 5%.
I use this way with clients 90% of the time. It’s more accurate and most of the people that sign up with me are about the long term sustainable weight loss.
Then there’s the quick and dirty way:
(This is all based on weight in pounds, because I’m American and we poo-poo the metric system)
Over 40% bodyfat: 7x your bodyweight
30-40% bodyfat: 8x your bodyweight
20-30% bodyfat: 9x your bodyweight
15-20% bodyfat: 10x your bodyweight
Under 15% bodyfat: 11x your bodyweight
This doesn’t factor in your maintenance and most of the time is really aggressive so it leads to a lot of yo-yoing.
You just have to know if you want short and unsustainable or long and sustainable. I recommend taking the long road because it’s more sustainable, but you’re an adult and you’re going to do whatever the fuck you want anyway.
Keep in mind a good rate of weight loss is 0.5-1% of bodyweight a week. Proper expectations is a must when taking this journey.
Setting Up Macros
For me, the easiest way to reduce calories is to reduce carbs. Fat loss is not better long term if you go low carb. What really matters is what you can be consistent with. For me, I know I can be consistent eating like this.
I don’t eat a lot of fat. The only real fat I eat is from my meat so pulling that away would have been more difficult. I would have prob had to switch from ground meats to a leaner chicken breast. Which would be fine, but the fat adds a little bit of flavor.
So I removed my morning banana, peanut butter and toast, and any lunch carbs. I don’t usually eat carbs at dinner, but if we did I would have removed those first because they are furthest away from my workout time.
There’s really no rhyme or reason why we don’t eat carbs at dinner, it’s usually meal dependent. If there was a reason, I would say laziness. Not any health or weight loss reason.
So by reducing carbs, it took me down to 2200 calories with my macros looking like this:
If you’re trying this at home, here’s some ranges to go by:
(Again, Murica 💩 on the metric system. Bodyweight in pounds here)
Protein: Take your bodyweight and multiply it by 0.6-1.1g
Fat: 0.25-0.5g per pound of bodyweight
Carbs: The rest of the calories. This is usually in the 0.5-2g per pound of bodyweight range.
Now, little caveat. If you are obese use your lean body mass to figure these numbers out.
Lean Body Mass = (Weight X Body Fat Percentage)-Weight
If you can get within 10% of your macro numbers, that my friend is a good day.
How I Added Alcohol
Now, let’s get into the good stuff. How to incorporate the “bad stuff”.
I’d check out the drink’s nutrition on the internet or MyFitnessPal.
I’d add that to my food log.
Now, all that is left is filling in the rest of the foods so I can hit my calorie goal for the day. I would figure out my protein next, then carbs would fill in the rest of my calories.
Yep, that’s it.
What I Eat In The Course Of A Day
In my online coaching program I don’t give meal plans because it’s not individualized to the foods you like and enjoy but I will give templates if asked.
Sometimes a template is good to see how things are structured, which is fine as long as you zoom out a little and focus on the framework behind it.
Over the course of the 27 days my meals looked like this or some close variation:
Breakfast (7:30 am)
Protein – 2 scoops of protein powder
Carbs – 1 cup of oatmeal
Mid Morning Snack (10 am)
Protein and Carbs – Greek Yogurt
Protein – 8-10 oz chicken breast or ground beef/turkey/chicken
Carbs – Big Ass Salad
And wash it down with a diet soda (Diet Dr Pepper or Diet Mountain Dew usually)
Snack (4 pm)
Carbs – ½ serving of Tostitos Scoops (6 chips)
Dinner – (6 pm)
Protein – 8-10oz chicken breast if I had ground meat at lunch or vice versa
Veggies – Frozen roasted in the oven
Drink – (7 pm)
1 glass of wine or a beer
Everyday I followed this template. On Saturdays I would make a few changes. I’d push breakfast (oatmeal and protein powder) later, skip the greek yogurt, Scoops and skip the Big Ass Salad. Lunch would usually be 6 oz of chicken breast.
The process I outlined to incorporate alcohol is the same thing I did to Saturday.
I’d check out the restaurant’s menu on the internet. If you’re going with a big chain the next step might already be done for you.
Once you find something, go into MyFitnessPal and type it in. If the exact food from the exact restaurant is in there, ya good. Skip the next step.
If not, find 3-5 entries with the same name and serving size you plan to eat.
Average them out and use that calorie total. Pick one of them to put into your food diary using the average.
By saving these calories (skipping the foods and eating a leaner cut of meat) I could save calories for dinner when my wife and I usually get take out. And I would only eat about ½-3/4 of what I got because entrees are generally in the ballpark of 1200 calories.
So I was able to enjoy alcohol, chips and going out with my wife all the while losing weight. That’s what a sustainable diet looks like.
Side Note: Next month I have an article coming out that will show you exactly how to make your own meal plan. Be on the lookout for that.
For the entirety of the challenge my workout didn’t change. It actually has been the same since mid September.
Here’s what it looks like:
3 days a week. A full body workout on Sunday, Upper on Wednesday and Lower on Thursday.
I don’t do heavy squats because it still freaks me out after having back surgery. My goals are to build up my chest and increase my vertical. I used to be able to grab rim, then after having back surgery I stopped jumping and it all went away.
For cardio I like to keep it minimal. 20 mins of incline walking on Sunday, Airdyne bike on Wed and timed walking lunges on Thursday. That’s it. I never did anymore than that. Even after my friend’s b-day dinner got a little out of hand and I ate waaaayyy more than I intended. I just did my 20 mins on an incline and ate what I normally do and the weight came off that week. ←-Lesson there. No need to overdo it after you ate more than intended. Get right back to what you were doing.
My Weight Chart
In a perfect world your weight would go down linearly, everyday the scale would read just a little bit lower. Motivation would be high and all would be good in the hood.
That’s not real life.
Here are my weights over the 27 days.
Ups and downs. Spikes and valleys. Like real life, it’s messy.
And at one point there was a plateau due to my son hating me getting a full night’s sleep. In his defense he was sick.
If you take nothing else out of this, take this away:
Scale weight fluctuates based upon a million things, 99.9% of which are not fat gain. Don’t freak out because it spikes one day. Look at what is happening over time.
One of the most troubling yet satisfying things about fat loss is the whooshing effect.
The whooshing effect is when you lose a ton of weight seemingly overnight. In the 30 Days of Drinking Challenge this is when I’ve drop 1-2 pounds overnight.
Here’s what actually happens. ⠀
Fat cells filled with fat…duh, right? When you are in a calorie deficit that fat is removed from the cells and used for energy. ⠀
As anyone that has removed something from a container knows, that leaves space in the container. Space which is then filled with water. ⠀
So on the outside and on the scale, it looks like nothing happened or in some cases the scale creeps up due to the increase in water. The funny thing is that you are actually making great progress. This is usually when people quit.
If you do stick with it more and more fat is lost, and that space is filled with more and more water. You’ll notice your fat will get more jiggly and the areas become warmer to the touch after you do cardio.
Then one magical night the whooshing fairy taps you on the nose with her magic wand and you wake up 1-3 pounds lighter with a noticeably thinner waist… and you pee a lot. Like a lot.
After that, there’s usually a little spike as you get ready for another whoosh.
Lesson from this: small upticks in weight happened. Don’t freak out, stick with it you might be building up for a whoosh.
My Waist Measurements
I get the question a lot, “How do I know the weight I’m losing is fat?”
The scale won’t tell you where the weight loss comes from so I like to add in waist measurements. If you’re losing inches there (or another fattier area) there’s a high probability you’re losing fat.
With that in mind, here are my waist measurements from the last couple of months. I try to take them on Tuesdays but sometimes my back is swollen and so I push it off until later in the week. #backsurgeryprobz
A: Above bellybutton
O: Over bellybutton
Un: Under bellybutton
Oct 7 I started the challenge. Nice downward trend, right?
And this is the importance of having a couple different ways to track progress. Just taking your weight will work until yo freak the fuck out. Have a backup plan to feel successful.
1 Drink vs 3
Throughout the challenge I had 1 drink a night. So the question becomes…
“I’m not an alcoholic that drinks every night, but what about 3 drinks on a Saturday? Can I still lose weight doing that?”
In theory yes, but it’s going to be tougher IMO. I couldn’t find any specific research that looked at this exact scenario but let’s look at what we do know:
Alcohol contains calories (yes even vodka)
Alcohol makes you a better dancer
Alcohol contains calories like your food does and if you go over on calories you gain weight. So incorporating more alcohol calories means you have to remove more food calories so you’re still in a calorie deficit. This makes things tougher especially when you’re downing your 3rd beer.
Your inhibitions lower and that bucket of Cheese Balls looks amazing. This is when snacking can really become an issue.
Another thing to consider is alcohol is considered a toxin in the body despite how much you love it. When you drink, your body works to breakdown and get rid of the alcohol as fast as possible. Digestion of food in your stomach and fat burning stop so your body can get rid of the alcohol. The more you drink, the longer you aren’t digesting the food in your stomach and burning body fat.
Having said all that, a few hours of not burning fat over the course of a night really not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. The bigger concern for me is the lowering of inhibitions and having to restrict more food prior to drinking. To me this is a slippery slope. But if you can handle it, more power to you. I can’t.
One of the beers I had was Founders Breakfast Stout. The alcohol is roughly double of a Bud Light. Being the lightweight that I am, I immediately felt the craving to snack after I finished it.
At the end of the day you have to do what’s right for you. And if you can pull off 3 drinks in a night and not blow your shit up, have at it. And if you do, just get back on track the next day. Remember this fat loss thing is a long term play.
But if you’re struggling to lose weight and have been for a while, this would be my first thing to work on.
Wrap It Up B
I’d like to thank you for reading this and I hope you found it helpful. To be clear, I do not recommend drinking everyday. I don’t even recommend drinking at all.
I wanted to show you that you can have foods (or drinks) you enjoy and still lose weight. The main thing to focus on is your calorie intake. I also wanted to show you the craziness that is your weight. The ups and downs, the drops and spikes happen to everyone. The important thing is to not quit. Your weight is just data and not a reflection of you. Don’t let a spike in water weight shit on a potentially beautiful day.
Weight loss is not a linear process, it’s messy like life. The important thing to do is to keep going because you didn’t fail. You only fail if you quit.
Like I tell new clients, you can’t fuck this up.