How To Track Alcohol
Like to have a drink every now and then – guess what? When it comes to flexible dieting that’s perfectly okay! Alcohol is technically the shadowy “4th macro,” as it provides your body with 7 calories per gram, but because it isn’t essential for survival it’s not typically mentioned alongside protein, fat, and carbs.
It’s very important to keep in mind that alcohol has value as energy, but no nutritional value such as vitamins, minerals, or fiber. It’s very similar to consuming “empty carbs” like gas station candy or table sugar. So how does one go about fitting alcohol into your macros?
Obviously we’re not going to generate the recommended booze target every day, but we will show you how to plug it in to stay on track with your progress.
You can either count your alcohol as a substitute for carbs, fat, or a mix of both depending on what your macro plan for the day is. Take the total calorie content of your drink and divide it by 4 if you’re going to count it towards your carbs, and divide by 9 if you’re going to count it towards your fat. This is because carbs have 4 calories per gram and fats have 9… Simple as that.
As an example, let’s take a look at a 5 ounce glass of red wine – we’re not even going to worry about the macro content at all, just the total calories. You’d do the same for hard liquors, beer, or any mixed drink as they are almost universally NOT going to have protein or fat content.
Five ounces of red wine has 125 calories. If we decide to fit it into our carbs, we’ll divide the calories by 4; so it counts as “31g carbs.” If we wanted to plug the wine into our fat allotment, we’d divide by 9 and count it as “14g fat.” Doing this will keep you in the right energy balance – you may miss out on some of the health benefits that fats or nutrient dense carbs have to offer, but at least you won’t put your body composition in jeopardy!
Remember the 80/20 rule where 80% of your macros are coming from food that has higher nutritional value and the other 20% can be “junk” foods? Alcohol is firmly placed with the 20%.
It’s probably not a good idea to have a majority of your daily energy coming from booze as this could lead to a wide array of issues that extend beyond body composition, but if you enjoy your drinks it is possible to fit it into your macro targets and keep your progress going.
Plan ahead, designate a driver, and don’t think that flexible dieting means that you have to sacrifice your social life!