ALCOHOL & YOUR MACROS
HOW TO TRACK & WHAT TO DRINK
By now I’m sure you’re all familiar with the three essential macronutrients - protein, fats, and carbohydrates. But did you know there is technically a fourth?
Alcohol is that fourth, but nonessential, macronutrient. It provides energy in the form of calories, but is not necessary for sustaining life. There are 7 calories per gram of alcohol, so alcohol sits between carbs and protein (both 4 cal/gram) and fats (9 cal/gram) as far as calorie density goes.
The idea of tracking your macros as a tool for fat loss or improvement in performance is to have the flexibility to enjoy normal life as you work towards your goals. If having an occasional drink is a part of your lifestyle, then go for it! But, as with anything, moderation is key. Even if you’re diligently tracking your alcohol, it can still impact progress by negatively affecting performance, recovery, and sleep.
The biggest factor when it comes to drinking while tracking your macros is to make sure that you are tracking correctly. Alcohol can be a bit tricky to track - while the nutrition label on a drink may give you the correct calorie count, it doesn’t give accurate macros so there is a bit of math that has to happen on your end.
HOW TO TRACK IT
When tracking alcohol, MFP entries and barcode scans are not reliable because the calories in pure alcohol are not classified as protein, carbs, or fats. So when tracking, you may track alcohol as either carbs OR fats OR a mixture of the two.
There are 9 calories per 1g of fat, and there are 4 calories per 1g of carbohydrates. Using 5 oz. (about 125 calories) of red wine as an example, you have the following options when tracking:
Track as carbohydrates: 125 calories ➗ 4 cal/g = 31.2C
Track as fat: 125 calories ➗ 9 cal/g = 13.8F
Track as both: 62.5 ➗ 4 cal/g = 15.6C
62.5 ➗ 9 cal/g = 6.9F
If you have a go-to drink, keep a note of the macro options for tracking that drink in your phone or create a MFP entry so that you can easily track without having to stop and do calculations whenever you want a drink A few drinks left unaccounted for can add hundreds of extra calories to your day. If done on a regular basis, this alone could be sabotaging your progress and leaving you confused and frustrated.
WHAT TO DRINK
Here are a few of our go-to tips on how to make a drink more macro-friendly:
USE ZERO-CALORIE MIXERS || Swap out tonic water (which has a lot of added sugar) for seltzer (which is just sparkling water); mix your whiskey or rum with Diet Coke instead of Coke; mix drinks with zero-calorie flavored sparkling water or Crystal Light instead of juice or other sugary mixers
SKIP THE MIXER || While not always practical, having a few shots rather than sipping on sugary cocktails can help save you from adding hundreds of extra calories to your night
CHOOSE A LIGHTER OPTION || Opt for a light beer, glass of champagne, or hard seltzer over a heavy ale or lager
OTHER TRICKS || Ask the bartender to serve your drink in a tall glass; they will add extra mixer so it takes longer to drink and you drink less; alternate each drink with a glass of water or a Diet Coke; avoid bottomless drinks so you can account for how much you’ve consumed
If all the information above has left you completely confused, just use the quick chart below for accurate macros of some classic drinks. Not seeing your fav on there? Shoot us a message or drop a comment below and we’ll help you out!
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