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How to Drink Alcohol on a Cut

If your goal is the actor/model type physique I’m sure you also want an active social life.

Alcohol is part of that. On occasions such as birthdays, parties, dates, vacations, and so on, you probably want to enjoy a drink or two. You can. Alcohol will not stop fat loss nor will it interfere with muscle growth if you drink in moderation.

In this article you’ll discover how to fit alcohol into your fitness plan without negative effects on your results.

How to Drink Alcohol in a Deficit

alcohol doesn't stop fat loss

Alcohol doesn’t stop fat loss if you stay in a calorie deficit. If you eat less carbs and fats that day, you can make room for a few hundred calories of alcohol. Your fat loss results will be the same.

The first thing you need to pay attention to is the calorie content of each type of drink. As a rule of thumb, the sweeter the beverage, the more calories it has:

calories per drink

If you want to get a little drunk, it’s best to go with low calorie drinks such as spirits. If you drink for the taste, go with cocktails, beer or wine. You’ll be able to fit 2 or 3 drinks into your deficit.

How save Calories for Alcohol

Most guys lose fat with around 2000 calories per day. To save 500 calories for alcohol, I recommend doing this:

  1. Skip breakfast 
    I assume you go out drinking at night, so skipping the morning calories is the best option. Not eating for a few hours in the morning also has appetite suppressing effects. If you drink sparkling water and a cup of black coffee you will not feel hunger at all until lunch time or afternoon.
    Read How to do Intermittent Fasting for Fat Loss for more info on this
  2. Make your first meal small – protein and veggies
    Again, for the purpose of saving calorie for night time you get only a small meal during the day. However, protein and fiber are both very filling and will stave of hunger even if the meal is only a few hundred calories.
  3. Eat a big meal before going out drinking
    Your dinner should include the rest of your food for the day. Make sure you get low fat meat or cheese in this meal to hit your protein intake. Avoid sauces and oil. You want to keep your fat intake as low as possible.
  4. Go out and enjoy yourself
    You can now have 2-3 drinks and still remain in a deficit.

What if I want more than 3 drinks?

For some people 2 or 3 drinks is not enough to feel good. They want more.

Well… getting wasted all the time doesn’t go well with fitness. Moderate drinking doesn’t interfere with muscle growth or strength. But heavy drinking does affect recovery and performance. It also puts you in a calorie surplus leading to fat gain.

So I guess you choose which one is more important to you.

But I would explore why you feel the need to drink more. Most people use alcohol to mask their insecurities.

This was the case for me. I was a shy kid growing up and during high school and college I relied on alcohol to make me more sociable. I realized that my friends were not judging me for my behavior if I could blame it on alcohol. I could put on a new persona, act differently than normally would without getting criticism from others.

When I started studying myself though, I realized I could do this without the need of alcohol. I believe that each person can identify why they want to drink and create the same feeling without the need of alcohol.

Alcohol and Fat Gain

Now let’s do some mythbusting.

First of all, you should know alcohol can’t be converted directly into body fat.

Our body has no mechanism for turning ethanol into body fat. However, alcohol is the first nutrient to be burned for energy when we ingest it. This means it stops fat and carbohydrate oxidation and leads to fat gain indirectly. If alcohol is burned for fuel, any surplus dietary fat will be stored.

This is why you gain fat very easily if you eat after you drink. We also need to consider that alcohol does not affect satiety like other nutrients and also encourages overeating because it clouds your judgement. Have you ever had fast food after a night of drinking?

I bet.

The good part is that alcohol has a high thermogenic effect. Although it is labeled as 7kcal per gram, our bodies use a lot of energy to process it, so in the end it actually gives us around 5.7 calories per gram.
Some researchers actually wondered if alcohol calories “count” at all because a surplus of calories from alcohol intake did not result in the expected fat gain.

The high thermogenic effect is part of that. If you count alcohol at 7 calorie per gram and you eat at maintenance, you are actually in a slight deficit.

More Information on Alcohol and Fitness

Last year Greg and I did a podcast together where we covered pretty much everything related to alcohol, fat loss and muscle growth. Check it out:

Another great resource is Martin Berkhan’s article: The Truth about Alcohol, Fat loss and Muscle growth


aggressive fat loss

The diet I use for cutting is The Aggressive Fat Loss Program

This is where I picked up the strategy of pushing your first meal back a few hours after waking up and saving most of your calories for dinner. By doing this you can not only enjoy alcohol but have big meals as well.

If you always had trouble getting lean because of hunger and cravings, you should check this program out. It should be the perfect fit for you. You’ll get lean fast without giving up your favorite snacks or starving at night.

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