Fitting Alcohol into my Macros – Thoughts & Resources

Ok – so I’ve been getting a ton of questions from my clients about fitting alcohol into their macronutrient program and IF it can be done.  Well, I’m not going to burst your bubble because it CAN be done!  We just have to do a little math to make it fit while planning ahead.  Again, if it fits your macros (IIFYM) is a concept (NOT a fad diet) that helps keep you accountable to your long-term goals; it’s understanding how your body responds to YOUR optimal macronutrient intake levels, thus achieving your OWN personal goals.  Some of us may be cutting overall calories to get really lean, while others may be on his or her journey of a reverse diet regime after being in a caloric deficit for a long period of time.  Either way, if you want to enjoy a drink here and there, you just have to plan accordingly to make it fit within your prescribed macros.  Here’s some thoughts and resources I’ve found to get and keep you on the right track.


THE BIG QUESTION:  So how do I track alcohol within my macros?

According to Dr. Layne Norton’s video log #40, BullsEye Nutrition utilizes this strategy the same exact way.  When consuming alcohol, it is known that alcohol yields seven (7) calories per gram, which is very caloric-dense just like fat (which yields nine (9) calories per gram).  On the other hand, carbohydrates will yield four (4) calories per gram.  Either way, you get to choose which macronutrient you want to substitute for in place of alcohol intake – it depends on what you’re willing to “give up” that day in order to enjoy a drink or two.  Here’s an example that may help you decide which macronutrient you want to use for substituting for alcohol intake:

Upon researching Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey:

1.5oz shot = (about) 100 calories

If substituting for carbs –> 100 calories / 4 calories = 25C

If substituting for fats –> 100 / 9 calories = 11F

FIRST:  Stay mindful with your beverage choices

Choose your alcohol beverage wisely!  Most beers tend to range from 90 to 200 calories, pending the choice you make.  If choosing more caloric-dense drinks of which include mixing some type of soda with liquor, then the overall calories will be increased (which some could be more than 300-400 calories, especially if choosing regular soda…and not diet/zero calorie).  Wines are typically in the the 100-150 calorie range.  But don’t hold yourself super strict – learn the difference between casual drinking and the “other” way (ya’ll know what I mean…oh the college days).

SECOND:  Plan ahead

Learn to plan your day!  This is super useful for when the weekend rolls around – it’s all about give and take and knowing your schedule ahead of time.  If you think you’re going to utilize alcohol intake for substitution of your fat intake, then eat LESS fat that day.  Same goes for carbohydrate substitution – just eat LESS carbs earlier that day.  This just requires a bit of math initially because we still want to hit our prescribed macro intake levels provided by our nutrition coach.  Lastly, always, ALWAYS hit that protein level (more on this on the resource section below) to still make sure we’ve fed those starving muscles daily!

THIRD:  Do your research

Know where you are going out to.  Maybe you see something fun and exciting on the drink menu and want to try it – most menus are online and you can research them prior to going out.  Again, mixed drinks will most likely yield higher calories so STAY MINDFUL, because you’ve planned ahead anyways!

FOURTH:  Enjoy the presence of others

Don’t sit in the corner and feel like you can’t enjoy your friends and family at a social gathering! You’ve got to know where your goals stand and how far/close you are to them!  If you’re not up for drinking that night, then it’s not a big deal – you can still get another beverage or water to sip on throughout the night!  Don’t seclude yourself from the crowd – just because you’re on your flexible dieting plan doesn’t mean to put your nose in the corner!  YOU’VE GOT GOALS – people should understand that!

FIFTH:  Stay committed to your long-term goals

Number four led into number five here.  It all comes down to your goals and WHERE you are on that pathway to your goals.  Can you sacrifice a bit and enjoy two to three drinks tonight?  Do you have to get up early tomorrow and train?  Did you even workout today?  Remember that light at the end of the tunnel, take a self-check where you stand on your pathway to success, and then make a decision for the night.  Again, MINDFULNESS IS KEY!

Concluding thoughts/suggestions

I hope these small suggestions will help you maintain your sanity when going out to socialize with friends/family.  Remember, we are all human and it’s ok to be normal and deserving of a night out with friends without any limitation – BUT you must always keep your goals in the back of your mind if you want to succeed on your road to commitment!  Alcohol moderation is KEY to success within your IIFYM program regime as well as where you stand with your goals.  Hope this helps and happy, responsible drinking!

Suggested references/resources

  1. BioLayne Video Log #40 – Alcohol + Lifting
  2. On The Regimen – Alcohol Part 1
  3. On The Regimen – Alcohol Part 2
  4. On The Regimen – Alcohol Part 3

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