Staying in peak physical shape is a challenge for just about anyone. It is doubly difficult when one is attempting to stay in bodybuilding shape. Not only must you keep in mind general caloric intake. You must also keep in mind protein-to-carb ratios, as well as monitor your overall daily fats consumption. One of the most overlooked aspects of any diet is the effects of liquid calories. Still, many bodybuilders swear on weight-gain drinks, supplemental additives, and general “water-plus” liquids. While these items can be useful supplements to water, nothing is more important the basic proper hydration. Anyone who is interested in cultivating a healthy daily liquid intake can follow the basic principle of: Water, Supplement, High-Carb drinks. If at all possible, alcohol should be avoided entirely. If that is not a possibility, then it should be consumed sparingly, and only during cheat days.
Start with Water
The first thing to do whenever you are taking in liquids is to drink water. You need plenty of water no matter what else you are putting into your body. Your body does not just desire water; it relies upon it to survive. This should not come as a surprise to anyone, but the extent of the need is sometimes lost on some. Your blood is 90% water while your solid bones are still made up of 20% water. Every function of the body relies on water to work efficiently. Therefore, when you want to put liquid into your body and hydrate yourself, water is always essential. This does not mean you cannot have “water-plus,” which means things like coconut milk or Gatorade. But be careful that what you are drinking will actually hydrate you and not leech from you. The easiest way to avoid any concern is to simply take in water when you can. 60-100 ounces per day (depending on weight) is the common rule.
There are certainly products and liquids that can be a quality supplement to basic water consumption. These products should be considered supplements and not substitutes to water. While they can provide your body with nutrients and vitamins that are not found in water, they can also contain additives and calories. This is no necessarily a bad thing if you take them before or after a workout. Individuals who have specifically vigorous workouts especially have such needs. They might actually depend upon the electrolytes (sodium) or calories that can be gained from Gatorade, Fruit Nectar, or other supplements. Drinking these products is no reason to not also take in at least an equal amount of water.
Diet and No-Calorie Products
When you are consuming something other than water, you have to remember the same basic rules as eating. How many calories are in what you are drinking? Does what your drinking have high levels of sodium or additives? Does what your drinking have high-fructose corn syrup or other sugars? Liquid calories are no different from solid calories. If you drink 200 calories, it is no different than eating as much. Just like with many foods, drink will often carry the titles “Healthy” or “Natural” on their label, whether or not they are actually good for you. Reading labels is of utmost importance to avoid negative effects caused by over consumption of supplemental liquids.
Alcohol’s Effects on Calories and Fat
When it comes to losing weight or getting into shape, alcohol should generally be avoided. Depending upon how intense your workout regimen, alcohol can easily set you back. Alcohol actually has the second highest caloric density of macronutrients after fat. Alcohol has seven calories per gram while fats contain around nine calories in the same dose. It is easy to note how alcohol could affect the body negatively for those trying to lose weight. Another problem connected to alcohol consumption is the effect on the liver. The liver has more trouble converting consumed items into usable energy. Instead, the calories are collected and preserved as fat cells much more easily. This is due to the metabolism slowing down due to alcohol consumption.
Alcohol’s Effects on General Nutrition
Outside of the metabolic suppression, the body does not contain a storage capacity for alcohol. Unlike carbohydrates and fats, the body simply has no place to put the alcohol. Since the alcohol must be detoxified, it takes priority in the body. As one can imagine, when the alcohol has priority, the other functions of the body take a backseat. This includes flushing toxins, metabolizing food, and in general efficiently running. No matter where the calories are coming from, they are being stored more readily during and after alcohol is consumed. Your blood sugar level is also drastically affected by drinking. With excessive drinking, especially in mixed drinks, your blood sugar level rises. The sharp increase often leads to the pancreas producing more insulin, which in turn causes the body to fall into a “survival mode.” This is a natural reaction of the body to hold onto any and all calories it can. For those attempting to convert calories to energy via activities and exercise, the effect is devastating to the intent. Finally, alcohol contributes to the overall level of dehydration one experiences. Dehydration causes all functions of the body to slow to inefficient levels. When this occurs, the body may once again fall into a survival mode regarding its fat cell conversion. It also leads to toxins being inefficiently processed by the liver.
How to Manage Alcohol in Your Diet
Being vigilant of your daily caloric intake is the easiest way to keep alcohol from affecting your overall fat-loss or lean-muscle cultivation goals. Unless you are working out all day, or staying considerably active more than four hours a day, chances are you cannot take in more than 1,000 liquid calories per day. By simply following the “more out than in” policy of any diet or workout regimen, you can avoid damaging consumption of alcohol.