By Michael Berg, NSCA-CPT
1. If you’re planning on drinking tonight, it pays to prepare today
You can’t completely shield yourself from the effects of alcohol, but you can set the stage to protect your muscle mass before the party starts with a few well-chosen supplements. So, if you drink on a fairly regular basis, you may want to add these three supplements to your regular regimen, as suggested by Dwayne N. Jackson, PhD, an assistant professor and the director of the Alan C. Burton Laboratory for Vascular Research at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada.
“This is likely the best one to take, as alcohol depletes zinc and magnesium and vitamin B6, all of which make up ZMA,” Jackson says. “It should be noted that even if you consume only 2–3 drinks per day, you’re at risk of zinc and magnesium deficiency, especially if you train hard and live a relatively stressful life.”
>> Tongkat Ali and LCLT:
Drinking is known to decrease luteinizing hormone (LH), which is a precursor to testosterone production. “Most guys notice they’re super horny the day after a binge,” Jackson points out. “This is because the night before they suppressed LH and testosterone production — the body senses this and responds with an LH surge to attempt to get testosterone back to normal. Having hormone levels fluctuate isn’t a good environment for growth or fat loss, but regular use of Tongkat Ali and LCLT have been shown to normalize LH levels and may keep things balanced.”
2. When it comes to liquor, the higher the alcohol content of the drink, the higher the calories
One ounce of 80-proof vodka, for instance, which represents 40% alcohol by volume, is 64 calories; step up to 100-proof and you’ll be taking in 82 calories per ounce.
3. Steer clear of the so-called “girly” drinks
Chances are you would anyway, but those with a sweet tooth beware: The high-sugar mixers in everything from white Russians to piña coladas can pile on the excess calories, to the tune of 500 calories or more depending on the size of the drink. Consider a 10-ounce long island ice tea or margarita, which can net out to a whopping 550 ab-skewering calories — about the same collateral damage as scarfing down a McDonald’s Big Mac.
4. Dark beer really is higher in calories
Although it’s true that Guinness doesn’t tip the calorie scales as much as you’d think, at 126 calories per 12-ounce serving, in general, dark beers are more calorie-dense than light ones. So if you must drink, go with the light varieties of your favorite brews, or limit yourself to just 1–2 dark concoctions and make those last the evening.
5. Toast to your health with some wine, within reason
Not that we’d ever suggest guzzling wine like you would beer, but if you’re not in get-lean mode and smartly avoiding sugar, 1–2 glasses a week could actually provide health benefits. Studies have shown that moderate wine intake may raise HDL cholesterol (that’s the good one), promote vasodilation — i.e., the opening of arteries for improved blood flow that could help nutrient circulation — and reduce free radicals in the body.
6. Know the serving size of a “drink”
One drink equals 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of hard liquor. Be wary of extra-large wine glasses, oversized mugs of beer (often offered at restaurants and bars), and amateur-mixologist buddies pouring drinks at the party you attend.
7. Raise one more glass before you’re through
The next morning, hopefully you’re hangover-free, but you’ll definitely want to shift gears back to your bodybuilding goals. To get some quality protein and nutrients in your body (and to your starving muscles), try MMI’s specially concocted “Hangover Helper.”
Bottom line, alcohol can sneak up on you, and if you’re not careful it can thwart the best of intentions inside the gym and out. But if you’re still going to sensibly enjoy a drink or two from time to time, read on for a full-body portrait of alcohol’s effects — both ill and, perhaps shockingly, some good — as well as some more tips on how to drink a little smarter the next time you head out with friends.