Wine: Good or Bad for Fitness?

Wine: Good or Bad for Fitness?

This is a question that comes up...a lot in my business.  Many of you are searching for the answer when it comes to consuming wine & living a fitness lifestyle. Scanning over several heath & fitness sites, some people are now creating wine workouts.  Others are jumping on a recent study that claims red wine will give you the same physical benefits of a one hour workout.


Stay tuned, folks.  In this article I'm going to give you the truth about consuming wine and how it affects you in your fitness journey.

Alcohol & Your Body Metabolism

Beer, Wine & spirits contain ethanol.  Ethanol in the body is given top priority by your body's metabolism.  What that means to you is that it pretty much stops everything else that's not necessary (like breathing) and immediately goes to work to eradicate the ethanol from your system.  The body does this by taking the ethanol and breaking it down into a chemical structure that it can deal with.

During that breakdown process, ethanol has a very high thermogenic effect in your system much like protein does.  Now don't get excited here, just because there is a high thermic effect doesn't mean I'm saying alcohol is like taking protein.  I'm just acknowledging that some properties are similar.  In addition to the thermogenic similarity, according to some latest research, ethanol does not easily convert to fat storage.  Now you are probably far so good.  But wait, here comes the catch.

While this is all true statements, where alcohol gets you is that because the cost to convert ethanol to energy or fat store is so high, it also signals the body to say we have enough.  There is no need to burn any sugar or fat stores for a while until all this stuff is gone.  The end result is that body metabolism you've worked hard to achieve through cardio and weight training just got shutdown because of a night out with friends.

Alcohol's effect on Muscle Building

For many years it has been said that any alcohol will completely shutdown muscle building.  For many reasons, this is a true statement.  Alcohol affects muscle metabolism in many ways that all equal things that are bad to promote muscle development.

Weight training focuses on tearing muscle tissue and muscle is built during the rest and recovery phases of weight training.  Introduce alcohol into the mix and the repair cycle that is so vital to your development is greatly affected and can lead to muscle development failure.  However, studies are starting to show that all may not necessarily be lost if the amount of alcohol consumed is kept to a minimum.  So the bottom line here is that IF you are going to drink, then only do a very small amount & get back to your program as soon as possible.

Beer & Wine’s affect on Fat Loss

When talking about alcohol and fat loss, things start to get tricky.  As mentioned earlier studies show that when metabolizing alcohol it has a very high thermic effect, as does protein.  It is also known to cost a high amount of energy for alcohol to be stored.  Because of these two facts, this shuts down your body’s use of other fuels like carbs and fats.

In addition to not burning fats, wine consumption has an affect on your food intake.  Red wine contains histamine which raises the cortisol in your body and as a result will increase your appetite.  After a few glasses of the vino, your ability to regulate your desire for food diminishes.  Combining a diminished control center, raised cortisol and increase dopamine (the pleasure/reward brain center) will naturally lead you towards increase food intake and increased calories.  All of which contributes to the possibility of fat & weight gain.  


I'd have to say that consuming wine and having a fitness lifestyle is possible.  After all, if you're going to drink, and many of you will, it will not be the end of your physical fitness journey if you follow some simple rules:

  1. Drinking alcohol at meals, avoid carbs and fat.  Stick to protein and veggies.  You'll ramp up the thermic effect of the meal and avoid storing the fats and carb calories.
  2. Go with red wine over white to get the lower calories.
  3. Go with beer & white wine as they have a better effect on appetite.
  4. Avoid mixed drinks due to the sugars and increased cravings to eat more.
  5. Avoid alcohol after doing cardio.  But consuming alcohol after weight training maybe the best times to imbibe.

But overall, I have to re-emphasize this point.  If your fitness journey currently is to loose fat, then do yourself a favor and just skip it altogether for now.  You will thank yourself for it later on.

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