You’re a normal human being, which means you have a social life.
Sometimes that social life involves going out for food and drinks. Sometimes it means a casual beer–or two, or tres. There are also the times where you just want to go on a night out, wolfpack styles.
You know what happens in these scenarios, especially if you’re following a regimented training and diet plan. You simply cannot allow the sweet taste of alcohol pass your lips.
Your progress will automatically be diminished.
So you then wonder what you’re supposed to do in this instance. Sacrifice having a social life, or a part of it that you enjoy. Then there’s the idea that you must live the cliché fitness lifestyle of being in the gym 24/7 and eating tupperware meals at every sitting. Making the diet process even more difficult than Tom Cruise’s ability to not be the same character in every single movie he’s in.
I mean. I love Tom, but can he at least give it shot just the once?
If you do decide to have a drink or a night out, it’s then riddled with guilt. Mainly because of how hungover you are the next day. The food that you ate and then not being able to go train that day. All this leaves the idea of you destroying your progress
WHAT IF THIS DOESN’T NEED TO BE THE CASE?
It’s like I said, fitness and dieting is part of your life. Life isn’t part of fitness and dieting.
The one thing I enjoy on a weekly basis is going to my favorite bar, Brewdog. Trying out their craft beers while doing some reading, listening to music, or catching up with friends.
Another weekend favourite of mine again involves alcohol. Having nice liquor while winding down on a Sunday evening with a movie and snacks.
Despite this, I’m able to progress in the gym weekly in some capacity. Making food choices that I enjoy without restriction. All this while remaining lean and healthy, most of the time.
I say ‘most of the time’ because we all have those weeks where you can get bloated and give less fucks than Hank Moody.
But that’s life. Are you competing in a bodybuilding competition anytime soon?
Lets get to the good bits.
Being aware that there are going to be times that if you make the choice to go drinking then there’s the possibility that you’ll either:
- Drink way too much
- Eat too much when you’re drunk
- Be hungover for a couple of days and not be able to train or exercise
- Get injured while falling through a table attempting a headstand in a bar
- All of the above
Essentially, you can’t complain when you allow actions to overrule your thoughts despite having a specific goal in mind. Only then to complain afterward that you didn’t quite reach that goal.
Enjoying your life and reaching your goals are very much possible. This does require you to work within a specific grey area.
Too much of X means Y is harder to attain.
This is where I’m a big fan of flexible dieting and flexible living. The problem being is, people assume that it’s a free pass to eat an unlimited amount of junk food only to wonder why they’re not progressing.
BE LIKE HANNIBAL
Nope, I’m not talking about Anthony Hopkins. Although, I’m surprised he’s not a hell of a lot leaner since he’s a big fan of a higher protein diet.
I’m talking about this guy…
Hannibal is always on the ball. He’s the main reason the A-Team is constantly ahead of the government and their enemies. He’s constantly planning ahead. It’s the most simplest way to succeed at anything.
So how are you going to succeed in your fitness goals while still enjoying a fine tipple?
PLAY THE CALORIE GAME
Weekly fat loss progression is determined by an overall weekly calorie deficit. Which means you can manage them, much like your finances.
If you know that you’re heading out on Saturday night, plan ahead. Remove some calories from a couple of the days throughout the week to compensate for Saturday.
You can do this in various different ways.
I’m sure you may have heard of this as a popular fat loss method. How this works is by placing you in a weekly overall calorie deficit. Just like any other diet, there’s no magic pill with this. However, by reducing your calories by a larger percentage in two days of the week, you can place them in your calorie saving for the Saturday. By doing this, you’re still able to keep yourself within the overall weekly calorie deficit.
Here’s an example.
Weekly calories for fat loss are at 14000.
Instead of splitting it to 2000 per day, let’s use the calorie banking system.
Add 500 calories to Saturday. Giving you 2500 for that day.
Removing 250 calories from Tuesday and Thursday. Leaving these two days with 1750 calories.
This is enough for you to still not feel like that you’re dieting on either of these two days. However, if the calorie intake is a lot lower –let’s say around 1000 calories– then it’s still sustainable as it’s only for a single day. Not weeks at a time. This makes it still achievable for your fat loss goals.
This is similar to above. With this, you’re adjusting your macronutrient numbers to balance out the overall calorie intake.
Again, let’s say you’re heading out on Saturday night. Ready to crush the dance floor.
You don’t want to be the guy or girl drinking diet coke disguised as vodka and coke all night. Or worse. Having every single person asking you the question “Why aren’t you drinking? Are you ok?” So out comes the balancing routine.
Most drinks that you’re likely to favour have carbs in them. You want to enjoy them. So let’s look to try and keep them in.
They also have calories. Precious calories. So we’re keeping them in too.
That means they have to come from somewhere. That somewhere being Food.
Now I’m not saying that you must starve yourself. Far from it. What I am saying is that you curb the two things that are going to take up calorie space throughout the day.
First, there are carbs, which is self explanatory. However, another easy way to limit calorie intake is by reducing how much fat you consume. With fat being 9 calories per gram you can make a hell of a saving here.
The easiest way to do this is by keeping your food intake throughout the day more protein and veggie dominant. Both of these food sources are more satiating–meaning they will keep you feeling fuller, and will keep your calorie intake lower throughout the day. Saving them for the evening.
TAKE A BREAK
You do know that you’re allowed to take a break from dieting, right?
In fact, I highly recommend this. Especially if you’ve been dieting for quite some time.
This can be extremely healthy for the mind and work in your favour in the long run. The issue with dieting too hard for too long is that it can sometimes lead to actual body image issues and eating disorders. This is due to the extreme levels that people can take it. They can become far reliant on it in the belief that this is the only way to achieve–or maintain–a look.
Here’s the problem. The look is no use to you if a healthy mind and body don’t go hand in hand with it.
It’s like I keep saying. Life is there to enjoy all year round, not when you think that you’re allowedit.
If you’re dieting, then the chances are that you have a good idea on how to estimate food and drinks. This means that you’ll know if you’ve had too much, or not enough in terms of calories. If you do consume too much, then that’s ok. It’s not the end of the world as it’s simply one single day.
Taking a diet break for a day or two can also be great for fat loss in terms of it being used as a reefed of calories.
At times, if you’ve being dieting hard for fat loss, it’ll slow down. This can lead to a possible plateau. So by having a day or two with a higher calorie intake can essentially help kick start your metabolism once again. Giving your body something it’s wanted. And the great thing is, if you give the body what it needs, the body will then give you what you want back. Easier fat loss.
Intuitive eating is the most basic. It can also be one of the more difficult ways to eat and drink. This is because it requires you to actually be in tune with your body and mind.
Sounds a bit complex, right? But it’s not.
Here are two perfect examples:
Your stomach rumbles. You then give it some thought.
Are you actually peckish, hungry, or starving?
Knowing this can result in your following food choices. This is why it’s always advisable to never go food shopping while you’re hungry as you’ll end up buying things you don’t actually want or need.
A simple rule to follow here is to drink a glass of water and give it 20 minutes. If you’re still hungry, then this means you actually are. So go eat some food.
This is where the second example comes into play.
When you do sit yourself down to eat, you have three stages.
Satisfied, full, and stuffed.
Satisfied, means just that. You’ve eaten enough and the meal is finished. If you have food left on your plate then you can save it for later, once you’re hungry again.
Full is where you continue eating. You may feel a little uncomfortable and know you’ve eaten a little too much. The problem was that there was food left on the plate and you didn’t want it to go to waste.
Stuffed is, exactly that. You’ve gone way passed the threshold of feeling full and asked for seconds. Then moved onto dessert and had seconds of that too. Think of the times you’ve been to a buffet or Christmas day.
I’m not telling you not to eat too much at Christmas, but it’s the perfect example.
Tapping into your intuition can take time and discipline. Once you master it, even Mr Miyagi can’t stop you.
GET YOUR ASS IN THE GYM
You know you’re about to hit extra calories this weekend, so make it count.
If you have a lagging body part or a lift you want to hit a personal best on, then this is the perfect time to do it as you’ll now have the extra calories to back it up.
Extra calories result in extra nutrients. Just what the body is waiting for.
Not only can you improve your training, but you can also have some fun and go a little “bro”. You can start throwing in some drop sets and adding fun exercises such as bicep curl rep challenges, or lunge challenges for the females.
I also like to add in some finishers on the odd day when I’m feeling up to it. These days are primed for it.
A favorite of mine something called density training.
Basically, take a number of exercises. Assign a number of reps to each exercise. Set a timer, and then begin. Repeat this circuit in perfect technique until the timer runs out.
Here’s an example for you.
For 10 minutes, perform the following circuit:
A1) Kettlebell Swings x 10 reps
A2) Bent Over Dumbbell Rows x 10 reps
A3) Push-ups x 10 reps
Repeat this until time.
Simple, yet effective.
Another method I like is every minute on the minute (EMOM).
This is similar to density training as it’s timer based, but in a different manner.
Let’s take the deadlift in this example.
You set the weight at 50-60% of your current 1 rep max (if known), and the timer to 10 minutes.
When you start the timer, you perform 3 reps and rest until the timer hits minute two. You then perform 3 more reps.
You do this until the 10 minutes is up.
Not only will you be absolutely toasted. You’ll be super pumped, stronger and ready to soak up all them calories.
TIPPLE OF CHOICE
Wait, you didn’t think because I mentioned above about you having all your favorite drinks that this will always be the case.
Remember, booze has calories too.
In fact, alcohol itself is the unofficial fourth macronutrient. The black sheep.
Per 1 gram there are 7 calories, which means that this can add up fairly quickly. Especially when it comes to drinks such as beers, wines, and most definitely cocktails.
Here are a few examples:
- Long Island Ice Tea. Calories up to 780.
- Margarita. Calories up to 740.
- Pina Colada. Calories up to 644.
And it doesn’t often stop at one drink either.
So what’s the solution, just not drink?
Well, that’s up to you. If you do want to drink then there’s a way around this dilemma. It’s ok, I’ve got your back.
You see not all alcoholic drinks are high in calories. In fact, there are quite a few firm favorites that you can manage into your diet without affecting it too much.
A simple method I adopted a while back is drinking more non-cheap vodka with soda water and lime. When I first read about it I thought it sounded pretty hardcore and would surely get me hammered in no time. But, the opposite happened. Because it was more expensive vodka, the quality is better. This meant it wasn’t leaving me in a mess. This was also down to the soda water keeping me hydrated. Keeping it an all round win, especially on the hangover side of things.
However, if you don’t fancy having a dreaded look on your face as if you’re drinking for a dare, then there’re some other options here for you.
- Rum & Diet Coke. Calories as low as 65.
- Gin & Diet Tonic. Calories as low as 115.
- Cosmopolitan. Calories as low as 150.
And just so you know, a Jagerbomb comes in at around 200 calories.
We can’t be blaming the alcohol for everything now, can we?
Even if you do aim for the lower calorie drinks and are on course for a massive win, your drunken self may still guide you to the nearest kebab shop before heading home. Oh, that lovely 1000 calorie kebab.
One sure way I’ve found that works here is to have a decent sized meal before you go out. Keep it higher in protein and veggies so that you’re feeling more full while you’re out. This will keep you from snacking, and also getting the post night out munchies.
Of course, this isn’t bullet proof. You might just decide to drag yourself to the kebab shop regardless.
Then there’s the following day. Dialing for a takeaway because you can’t be bothered preparing a highly nutritious meal for yourself that you know will make you feel better in no time.
The thing is, the time it takes for you to wait for the takeaway to arrive tends to be longer than how long it would’ve taken to actually go and prepare a meal. Go figure.
A simple strategy around this is to have something in place the day before. You don’t even need to prepare a meal. By just having it all in place so that you can easily do the rest when you’re tired or hungover makes it a whole lot easier.
This way you’ll be feeling better in no time, all the while still keeping on track with lower calorie meal choices.
It’s like I’ve mentioned above, we all have lives to live, and they don’t need to be mega regimented or over the top partying.
Be conscious: Think before you make an action.
Be like Hannibal: Have a plan in place.
5/2 Method: Bank calories for the weekend.
Macro Counting: Save on carbs and fats for your evening.
Take a break: Use it as a day off, or a refeed.
Intuition: Master your body’s cues.
Get your ass to the gym: Hit PB’s. Work on lagging body parts. Throw in challenges and density training.
Tipple of choice: Remove higher calorie drinks such as cocktails or lower calories options.
Munchies: Eating a decent sized meal before going out to prevent hunger.
PS – You might like my award-winning email newsletter below, especially if your weekends are for enjoying a nice tipple, hanging out with other great folks all the while achieving elite status.