Here’s a question I get all the time: “Do I need to stop drinking to get in shape?”
Unlike most questions that get asked repeatedly, this one isn’t annoying; in fact, I kinda love it.
Probably because it’s always got some other coach’s name attached. “Do I need to give up alcohol? Coach Chad says I do.” All right, Chad.
In an admittedly petty and completely condescending sort of way, I love hearing this—it’s a really easy way to identify coaches who operate completely outside the bounds of reality.
Telling anyone they “need” to completely stop doing anything—especially something with as much social interaction tied to it as drinking—is pretty insane.
Of course, in a vacuum, that makes sense: any amount of alcohol will things more difficult.
Firstly, it adds extra calories (7 calories per gram, for those keeping score at home). Secondly, it may hinder performance, making it a harder to hit your goals (1).
And most importantly, alcohol tends foster poor dietary decisions.
So, if it undeniably makes things harder, why not eliminate it completely? Why does anyone who wants to make a change in their body drink alcohol at all?
What I mean is, life doesn’t take place in a vacuum, so neither can a fitness plan.
People who demonize alcohol in any absolute sense are missing two very important things.
The first is that most people enjoy drinking. Your opinion on that, as a coach, is irrelevant.
Secondly, there’s the broad view of things.
Every single culture in recorded history has—independent of one another—found a way to ferment something and create a concoction that creates a euphoric experience.
From the Mesopotamians to the Babylonians to the Egyptians to the Aztecs to the Greeks and Romans to the Germanic tribes to the Vikings—each had some form of alcohol and used it in various ceremonies.
And they still managed to build pyramids and temples, invent democracy and philosophy, and conquer half the known world.
So, if alcohol is good enough for Ramses, Aristotle, Caesar, and Alexander the Great, maybe your coach is being a bit of an alarmist when he tells you that drinking is going to “kill ya gains.”
Let’s get down to brass tacks, friends.
Yes, in a number of ways, alcohol can inhibit your fitness progress.
In fact, if you’re willing to practice moderation—either while you’re drinking, or in terms of how often you drink—you really don’t need to abstain at all.
When I share this with clients, they are endlessly relieved..and a bit skeptical.
You might be, as well.
But it’s true—even if you’re trying for MASSIVE fat loss.
Here’s the trick: if you give up alcohol for the first 30 days and the final 30 days of the average diet or (16+ week) body transformation, you can still drink in the middle, and everything is going to be just fine.
If you’re willing to abstain from alcohol for a total of 60 days—30 days on either end of your transformation period—and as long as you’re not going on complete benders, you can drink and still drop all the weight you want and look great.
Not only is this what I do personally, it’s how I run things for all of my clients.
And trust me when I say, they still kill it.
Check out our testimonials page to hear about people like Seb.
He was a mostly in shape dude that we turned into an absolute beast. Check him out below.
Seb dropped 10 pounds of fat, gained 7 pounds of muscle, and built abs and a torso that I still have dreams about.
Look, this fitness stuff doesn’t have to take over your entire life.
Sure, you have to make changes, and there’s obviously some sacrifice. I’m not saying that you can booze it up every weekend and coast your way to a six-pack.
What I am saying is that being on some sort of transformation plan, or a coaching program, or trying to change your body doesn’t mean you can’t indulge at all.
You can’t pound beers after work every day, but if you’re on a date and want to enjoy a glass of wine (I prefer whiskey but whatever), go for it.
This is what I tell all of my clients. And how I teach them to work things into their daily lives, whether it’s drinking or donuts.
All of which is to say—I get that there are dogmatic coaches out there. I’m just not one of them. I’m not interested in black and white statements, or labeling things as all good or all bad.
My thing is helping people look awesome without having to give everything up. So if you’re trying to spend the next 6 months of your life being miserable, I’m not the coach for you.
But if you’re sitting at your cousin, Rich’s wedding feeling pretty sure that drinking to excess is the only way to get through it, and you want to work with a coach who’s going to make sure you lose fat regardless, I’m your guy.
As an aside, why is cousin Rich so lame?
PS – I actually made an entire video about how you can drink and still hit your goals (and never get hungover again); check it out here.
PPS – Before anyone gives me any BS prohibitionist argument, don’t bother. From my perspective, alcohol is not a party drug; it’s an ancient plant medicine that has been used to foster connection, enhance creativity, and consecrate with either solemnity or celebration every conceivable cultural ceremony imaginable. Chill.