4 Ways Alcohol Is Hurting Your Fitness Goals

4 Ways Alcohol Is Hurting Your Fitness Goals

4 Ways Alcohol Is Hurting Your Fitness Goals

So, you’ve just had an extremely productive day at the office, taken down all the meals you prepped the night prior, and followed it up with a dominant workout at the gym. You’re heading home about to get a hot shower or bath, ready to unwind and relax for the rest of the night with a nice little bottle of your favorite wine you’ve been saving or maybe it’s a nice cold beer that’s been calling your name from the fridge.

You figure it can’t be detrimental to your physical health because you’ve been working out hard and dieting -- it can’t hurt to pop back a few drinks and get a little bit tipsy. After all, it’s only a few drinks – what could it do to harm your progress?

While being this positive-minded is nice, it’s not necessarily the outcome you should expect as alcohol can play a major role in hindering one’s progress in the gym and in the mirror.

Now, does this mean alcohol is bad for your fitness goals and should be avoided altogether?

Well, to an extent – yes and no. There are many reasons why alcohol is frowned upon in the diet and fitness realm as there are a lot of contradicting claims and studies out there proving each side of its beliefs.

Drinking alcohol and fitness has been a common subject within the health and wellness community as there’s much debate over how mixing the two together can cause negative impacts even when there’s an importance on properly balancing the two.

For this portion, we need to discuss how alcohol can negatively affect your fitness and health goals both long-term and short-term. 

Alcohol Slows Down the Metabolism

Slowed Metabolism

The empty calories in alcohol serve no nutritional benefits and provide no real value as your body spends less time trying to burn fat and converting nutrients to energy but rather using those resources to help eliminate the alcohol from your body. 

Your body considers alcohol as a toxin instead of focusing on the absorption of other nutrients. This can also lead to a build-up of fat stored in the liver while potentially creating more severe diseases associated with this.

There’s a good reason for the term, “beer belly” – and you’ve probably seen how alcohol can turn abs into flab. You also don’t see many individuals with lean physiques overly indulging in alcoholic beverages daily.

Even just one night of drinking can cause a great deal of stress on the body and is deemed to be more impactful on a negative level as it’s directly attributed to weight gain as your body builds up stored fat that cannot be metabolized.

Alcoholic Drinks are High in Calories

High Calories

Alcohol can significantly impact your weight loss goals as most drinks are very high in calories. Even your favorite Moscato is loaded up with sugar, it’s just hiding on the back of the label where you don’t think to look at first glance.

Opting for a mixed drink? You may want to think again about what’s going into that – sugary sodas or juices are commonly used for mixed drinks and will only increase your caloric intake for one drink, making it extremely detrimental to your overall diet.

While opting for a light beer and/or clear liquor is a much more “diet-friendly” option, the calories and carbohydrates will add up after you continue to drink more and more. Your favorite “low-calorie” light beer that consists of around 90-95 calories can turn into 500 before the blink of an eye. By then, you’ll have to account for that in your diet as calories consumed in which there’s no general nutritional value.

Alcohol Can Cause Hormonal Imbalances

Hormonal Imbalance

Drinking too much alcohol has been proven to cause hormonal imbalances and reduced testosterone levels which can sabotage any type of weight loss goals you have. Weight gain and softer body composition are associated with the consumption of alcohol as the body produces higher cortisol levels and drastically reduces overall natural testosterone levels in males.

So, while it may not be visible on the outside while drinking – you can typically start to feel the effects take place the very next day. You’ll notice your body starts to soften up and may not be as hard as it was prior – this is caused by the increase of estrogen your body produces when persistent alcohol is introduced to the body.

This will significantly slow down progression as it takes more time for your body to recomp after a few nights and weeks of drinking. Even if you think you can outwork the alcohol in the gym, you cannot outwork the negative hormone imbalances that alcohol consumption brings to your body.

Poor Diet Choices When Impaired

Poor Choices

We’ve all been there before; nothing hits the spot when you’re feeling inebriated quite like a greasy meal that includes all your guilty pleasures. With alcohol comes impaired judgment and decision-making that can really throw off your diet as you start to slide into those levels of drunkenness with each drink. It’s much easier to cave into your cravings and say “eff it” on your diet as you stroll into the uber eats app ready to drop a heavy dime on bad food when you’re not thinking on a clear level like you would sober.

If you’re going to drink, please do so responsibly and make sure you have someone available to help you resist the urge to go and order fatty foods that will make you feel more terrible and guilty come the morning. 

Grab one of your prepped meals before and eat that prior to a night of drinking so you remain full and don’t have the urges/cravings to eat whatever sounds good at the time. If you’re still hungry throughout the night, make sure you pack another pre-made meal so you can fulfill your hunger without stopping at a nearby Taco Bell for a burrito fix, your toilet and stomach will thank you later.

Is It Okay to Drink Occasionally Without Losing Gains?

Of course, it is.

Drinking responsibly and only having a few alcoholic beverages on occasion is not enough to derail your entire progress in one night. It’s all about strategizing how you can fit it into your diet for the day as you will need to subtract calories away from normal food to make it fit but if you do this and don’t go crazy, you will be perfectly fine.

This doesn’t mean drinking every night or even every other night though; simply consuming alcohol once a week or every other week is a great middle ground to enjoy both the social life with drinking as well as keeping your physique at an optimal level without sacrificing your gains.

Try opting for smarter choices at the bar or liquor store, don’t load up on too many mixed drinks that have sodas and juices. Instead, go for the smarter, low calories options that still get the job done but don’t overload you with empty calories.

Best Alcoholic Drinks for Losing Weight

If you’re adhering to a strict diet but still want to introduce some alcoholic beverages on occasion, don’t sweat it as there are plenty of good alternatives for you to choose from without having to sacrifice your diet.

Enjoy some of these low-calorie, low-carb alcoholic options that better suit your fitness and health goals:


A sure-fire option that comes in at 100 calories or less that can be mixed with any diet sodas or zero-calorie mixers.


100 calories or less and can be taken as a shot rather than mixed with something that isn’t diet-friendly like a margarita.


Shoot for a whiskey on the rocks if you’re looking to stay lower on your caloric intake for the night. Don’t opt for any sodas or request a diet soda instead.

Light Beer

Michelob Ultra is a great option when looking for a beer that is low on calories and net carbs. Under 100 calories and can be a great alternative when looking for a nice beer selection.

The Take Home

The bottom line here is that while alcohol has many negative effects that can significantly impact your weight loss goals, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it from time to time without worrying if it will hurt your progress in the gym.

If you aren’t creating a habit of drinking too much or making it more than a once-a-week enjoyment, you can certainly kick back or head out for a night of responsible drinking. 

Indulging in a few alcoholic drinks on occasion is perfectly fine and improvements can still be made within your health and fitness journey without the negative effects associated with alcohol. 

Stay ahead of the game and prepare your meals to resist those drunken cravings, drink plenty of water, and reduce your risks of a dreaded hangover the next day by incorporating some amino acids such as Essential Energy by NuEthix Formulations. Go a further step ahead for all of your hormonal regulation needs by taking Cort-Eaze daily to reduce increased cortisol which can be affected by alcoholic consumption.

Author | Austin Perry

Austin Perry

Veteran fitness and health writer Austin Perry has accrued almost a decade worth of experience in sports nutrition and supplementation while having numerous featured articles published and shared within the wellness community.

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