Do You Have to Give Up Alcohol to Be Healthy?

Mark Willingham Uncategorized

Do You Have to Give Up Alcohol to Be Healthy?

The bottom line is alcohol is high in calories and low in most nutrients and it’s tough to lose body fat, increase muscle or improve athletic performance while drinking a lot of the stuff.

Law.com

By Jonathan Jordan

March 5, 2020

I work with loads of successful, social and often highly stressed lawyers who enjoy the occasional (or more than occasional) glass (or two or three or four) of wine (or cocktails) at the end of the day and especially at work events.

Sometimes they want to talk about it. Sometimes they don’t. But usually at some point, I end up being asked what a reasonable alcohol intake looks like for their fitness and health goals. I don’t tell people what to do. Have you ever tried telling a lawyer what to do? I provide them information and tools and serve as a resource to hold them accountable to what they decide.

The bottom line is alcohol is high in calories and low in most nutrients. It’s tough to lose body fat, increase muscle or improve athletic performance while drinking a lot of the stuff. The potential health benefits of low to moderate consumption are still being debated, and the risks of heavy drinking are well established.

We all know the legal industry is one of the most demanding professions and has high rates of alcoholic abuse, drug addiction, anxiety and depression. For many, drinking is fun and can be a normal part of a balanced social life. But it can very easily get in the way of a balanced, healthy lifestyle.

If you wonder whether you should take a look at how much you drink as it pertains to your goals, give this article a read. It’s a fantastic and informative article by Camille DePutter of Precision Nutrition that explores the real trade-offs of alcohol consumption.

Curious how giving up alcohol can really move the wellness needle? Here’s a typical example as captured by one of my training clients who is a partner at a top law firm in San Francisco. He sent me this screen grab of his MyFitnessPal (a popular food and weight tracking app) data, which tracked his weight over several years.

The long horizontal line near the beginning, at 210 lbs, reflects a period of years when he was not active on MyFitnessPal. Where it starts trending down was January 2017, when he got back onto MyFitnessPal and started tracking calories, refraining from alcohol, exercising regularly and losing weight. By maintaining a simple program of eating a balanced diet of 1800 calories, getting daily exercise through a combination of weight training and aerobic activity, refraining from any alcohol, and getting eight hours of sleep per night, he lost 23 lbs in four months.

Around May 2017 he started drinking wine socially again and stopped getting regular exercise. Each of the peaks since then reflects a new decision to get back on the program, and each of the valleys reflects the day he started drinking wine again and stopped getting regular exercise.

As you can see, alcohol consumption tends to arrest other healthier behaviors like eating healthy and exercising. In his own words “the key takeaways for me are tracking on MyFitnessPal and maintaining a simple program really does work for burning fat and losing weight and, second, at least for me personally, there is a clear correlation between drinking wine and gaining unwanted weight.”

Cheers!