What’s the secret of staying lean without completely cutting out alcohol? First, keep in mind that alcohol is an energy substrate, so when you drink it, your body burns it first. That means any carb and/or fat you eat around the time you drink alcohol goes to fat cells—like pretzels, chips, peanuts and even the carbs in your “fun” beverage.
So the first rule is to choose the lowest-carb libation. A good choice is wine at four grams of carb per glass.
Next: Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Alcohol lowers blood sugar, which can make you ravenous for high-carb foods. The solution is to eat a meal of lean protein—chicken or fish—and a high-fiber, low-starch cruciferous vegetable like broccoli—not potatoes, rice or pasta.
Last is moderation: Three glasses of wine should be the limit, and stopping at two is better—and don’t eat carbohydrate around the time you partake. That’s very important because, as mentioned above, it goes right to fat cells.
Because your body must burn off the alcohol first, fat burning is essentially switched off till it is metabolized. That’s why you don’t want to chow down on carbs and fat while you drink, and it’s also why a low-carb beverage is best.
Other than those fruity, high-sugar mixed drinks, beer may be the worst fat-adding alcohol because each 12 ounces has about 15 grams of carbs and 150 calories, compared to the 75 or so calories per glass of wine. So if you drink four beers, that’s 60 grams of carb potentially being stored as fat—and 600 extra calories. Ouch. That’s going to take you at least an hour of cardio to burn off.