Booze and Building Muscle

The first time we became acquainted she made my head spin. I wasn’t yet ready for her. She was too strong for me. Too bold. I couldn’t appreciate how age had brought her character. How it added to her depth. How it gave her layers. Unlike the others I’d tried of different colors and flavors, she needed to be had alone. She couldn’t be shared or paired or mixed.chad howse scotch

I can remember that first meeting vividly. My knees buckled at her scent. My face clenched like I’d taken a bit out of a lemon at her taste.

The first time I ever had a sip of scotch, I didn’t know what I was in for. I’d never been a drinker. Sure, I enjoyed beer, but I was a virgin to the ways of the brown liquors. I’d never had bourbon, nor whiskey, nor cognac, nor brandy. When I drank, which was rare, I mixed drinks to temper the taste of the booze, but scotch, well, it had to be consumed in all it’s oaky, peaty glory.

Now, many years later, I’ve grown very fond of this luscious liquor. And I’ve been spoiled greatly by its presence.

The person who introduced us is a friend of mine, and how lucky I am to have this friend. Not only is he a generous, kind fellow, but a liquor rep as well. He first introduced me to a lovely scotch that is now one of my favorites, the Highland Park 18 Year.

Because of him, I skipped steps with my booze.

I didn’t start with cheaper whiskeys, then bourbon, and graduate to scotch. I started with the big kahuna, the grand salami, the head honcho. Not because I was born to a place of wealth and could afford this incredibly expensive drink, but because I have a pal who tends to have a few extra bottles lying around every now and then.

And I curse him for introducing me to the brown liquid that I shall never part from…

Why? Well my favorite bottles, for the most part, cost well over $100. Owning my own business, it’s hard to justify such an expense. So once a year I’ll buy one of my favorites and cling to it like Gollum to his precious ring.

I now thoroughly enjoy scotch. I genuinely enjoy it as one of my favorite beverages. I enjoy bourbon and other whiskeys as well (I’ve since gone back an covered the steps I missed early on in my drinking career). These are simple pleasures that do, indeed, make for great writing sessions, relaxing nights, and peaceful moments. I don’t want to live without them.

Alas, I seem to have a dilemma on my hands.

Scotch, and alcohol on the whole, is clearly not the best thing for you. And, being a guy who’s always been a “health first” kind of guy, how do I justify regular booze if it hinders my health?

The same can be said for many of the guilty pleasures that the majority of us simply don’t want to remove from our lives. How do we find that balance where we can enjoy the finer things in life without ruining our health, or our bodies?

Let this article serve as a guide that will help you live life as you want, to eat healthy food, but also tasty food, to drink and feast your way to a better body.

A quick note, much of the info to follow is a blend of my own tactics, and tactics and info that I completely ripped off from a buddy — Nate Miyaki — with blessing, of course. I got some great info from this article he wrote: How to Drink Booze And Burn Fat.

hemingway boozeOn Drinking Alcohol And Building Muscle

Can you drink alcohol and still build muscle and lose fat? That’s the question.

Drinking is a part of society. It’s a part of business. We can forge relationships over a bottle of wine and a candle-lit dinner. We can strengthen bonds over a few fingers of scotch and a cigar. We can ring in the New Year with a bottle of champagne and kick back with the old man and watch some football on a Sunday afternoon with a couple beers.

In decisions related to training and nutrition, I typically adhere to my pal Abraham Lincoln’s advice…

[Tweet “It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”]

Booze in moderation, and at the right moment in time, can, indeed, make life more enjoyable. It can add to the quality of our years. Too much, however, hinders the quality. It lowers our testosterone levels, makes us hold more body fat, and dehydrates our muscles.

Too much of anything can’t be a good thing, but if you use the following guidelines you can enjoy scotch or vino or the occasional beer, and still have that strong, ripped body you want.

Carbs aren’t what’s wrong with alcohol, it’s the calories that have no nutritional value. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram which is almost as much as fat. But fat has nutritional value. The calories from alcohol are useless.

Don’t: Mix your alcoholic beverages. If you’re a vodka guy, go vodka water, not juice. If you’re a rum guy, enjoy that rum on the rocks, leave out the coke (yes, even diet). If you’re a whiskey guy, you shouldn’t be mixing it with anything anyhow.

Mixing your drinks only compounds the negative effects of alcohol. Enjoy your drinks on their own.

2. Alcohol is essentially poison in your system, and your body does everything it can to get rid of it, including giving it priority as to what’s burned for fuel. Guess what’s put to the “back of the line”? Your body fat.

Don’t: Binge drink. Not only will it ruin your workout, it will have a dramatic negative effect on your testosterone levels. Also, don’t drink every night. Heave a couple nights a week where you enjoy a drink. I like my scotch, but I try and keep it to those evenings that follow long days that seem like they’re never going to end. I like capping a long, productive day off with a drink, or an especially stressful one.

3. Alcohol effects insulin. As such, just like you shouldn’t have carbs and fats in the same meal, you shouldn’t have booze and too much fat in the same meal.

Do: Eat protein the day after a night where you had one too many. Lean protein will regulate your blood sugar and help your body start, once again, burning fat.

4. Alcohol does hurt your recovery by lowering your testosterone levels, it also negatively effects fat oxidization. So don’t drink on a workout day. Drink on your day off so you’re not impacting your recovery too much.

Your Diet Shouldn’t Be Painful

One of the major flaws of most “diets”, is that they aren’t sustainable. They require you to completely change to a lifestyle that you can’t keep up. Nate Miyaki, the same guy who hooked me up with much of that awesome info on booze, has a different way of looking at diet.

His program, Feast Your Fat Away, is an incredible program that guys like you and I can easily follow, and enjoy, while helping us achieve incredible success with our training – whether your goals are to burn fat or build muscle, this program is great for you.

And so, if you felt like I was talking to you in the article above. If you’re not a “diet guy”, and you still want to enjoy life, but ideally build a better body as well, I highly recommend you check out Nate’s Feast Away Fat, that he’s also put on sale until this Friday.