Effects of Alcohol on Body Composition

By: Coach Mitchell

Alcohol is a chemical nutrient that is called ethanol, and it does contain calories. One gram of alcohol contains 7 calories, and although it is essentially made of sugars, it is metabolized and processed in the body similar to fat.

The body will process alcohol first over any calories it’s being given from carbohydrates, protein, and fats.

Now, will alcohol intake cause you to gain weight faster or does alcohol get stored as fat? Not so much if you are having it in moderation and only partaking in drinking it every so often. In fact, it’s likely a better choice to have a few glasses of wine one night a week than to have 1-2 every night. You see, drinking alcohol can have a negative effect on muscle protein synthesis, so you’re not optimally rebuilding lean muscle tissue and recovering. So when we’re talking body composition, yup, it can deter from the results you want to see.

In terms of hormones, alcohol could also raise estrogen and promote imbalances in testosterone levels. What’s the implication here? Could lower your ability to build lean muscle.

Be ready for some fluctuations in scale weight for the next few days – don’t freak out or take it too seriously, it’s bound to happen. The next day after drinking, you’ll probably weigh less, but then 2-3 days after the scale be up a little above normal.

Now, onto the good stuff everyone wants to know – how to incorporate alcohol into your lifestyle…

A few common drinks and their calorie content:

  • 1.5 ounces of vodka, rum, gin, or tequila: 100 calories
  • 12 ounces regular beer: 150 calories
  • 12 ounces light beer: 100 calories
  • 4 ounces of wine: 120-125 calories
  • 4 ounces of champagne: 85 calories
  • martini: 120-150 calories
  • mojito: 150 calories
  • pina colada: 500 calories
  • Margarita (4 ounces): 170 calories

How to Plan for Alcohol in Your Macro Count

To allot for this in your meal plan (tracking your macros), you will take the overall calories for the beverage and you can decide if you’d like to use your fats or carbs.

For example, if you want to use your carbs for a glass of wine, you will divide 120/4 (calories/ 1 gram carb) = 30 grams of carbs

You can also use Fat grams if you’d like: 120/9 (calories/ 1 gram fat) = 13

If you’d like to use some of both, you can decide how many you’d like to use, but here’s an example:

Glass of wine: 120 calories

Use 60 calories from carbs: 60/4 = 15 grams of carbs

Use 60 calories from fats: 60/9 = 7 grams of fat