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  • Coach Collins

Training & Alcohol


“I’m training really hard at the moment, but am I undoing all my hard work by drinking a couple of beers every now and again?”


This depends entirely on who you are, but before I have a stab at answering it, first we should clear up a few things…


- Alcohol is NOT easily converted into fat - it’s true, look it up...

- Alcohol CAN put the brakes on fat burning and muscle building - it’s true, look it up...

- Alcohol IS fun - it’s true, look it up…


Now we’ve cleared that little lot up, let me ask YOU a question…


What is it that you are training for, and realistically, what are you going to get out of it all?


For people who just want good naked:


At the risk of encouraging everyone to binge… Most [but not all] people trying to lose weight should probably have a cheat window once per week… This is of course assuming that they’re following decent nutrition guidelines geared towards fat loss…  


There’s a whole list of reasons for this cheat window - an occasional epic calorie spike causes a host of hormonal changes that improve fat loss from increasing cAMP and GMP to improving conversion of T4 thyroid hormone to the more effective T3 and blah blah blah, keeps you out of starvation mode etc etc etc - I’m not going into that fat loss science crap here, but basically, in this cheat window - f*** it - eat and drink what you want.


Outside of this window, most types of alcohol are probably best avoided… Here’s why... While alcohol is not easily converted into fat [so alcohol itself won’t make you fat] alcohol does mean ethanol, and ethanol means acetate and acetyl-CoA. The acetate and acetyl-CoA showing up in your cells signals to the body that no sugar or fat needs to be burned, making alcohol something of a fat burning suppressor rather than a fat storer.  


If you have 3 stone to lose in 3 months, you aren’t eating and drinking for taste or for fun, you’re eating for fast and effective fat loss… It is boring, but if it’s a priority and you’re a grown up, you’ll deal with boring meals and glasses of water 6.8 days a week. 


If you do have to drink, stick to dry wines, preferably red… Dry being defined as less than 1.4% residual sugar... So think Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot… No more than two glasses in the evening and you’re golden.


If you don’t have loads of fat to lose and a specific time and date for it to happen, then f*** it, if you want a beer, sit the f*** down and have a beer… As long as you don’t go overboard every evening [or morning, Patrick…] on high sugar varieties the fat will still melt away…


For Functional Fitness Enthusiasts:


Will it affect your performance? A review in the June 2014 issue of Sports Medicine provides some pretty good guidelines.


To save you time, here is the rough translation...

- 3 drinks after training and you’ll recover normally (maybe 2 for the average female)

- 6 drinks and your recovery will be f***ed… (maybe 4 for the average female)


There’s the science, now for the common sense…


If you are - or potentially are - a world class CrossFitter with $275,000 at stake every year, along with all the sponsorship deals, etc, you probably shouldn’t entertain the thought of boozing… Cross your T’s, dot your I’s, don’t leave anything to chance… First place takes $275,000, second place takes $75,000… Quite a drop... 5th place probably gets a gift voucher…


If you aren’t world class, then there’s no money up for grabs - well, no real money at least - so why worry?


There’s a lot of people running around doing two CrossFit sessions a day, 6 days a week. Half of them own their own abmat, most of them have unspectacular lifts and times, and many of them would bluntly refuse a drink because they need to retest their ‘Annie’ time the next day... If this sounds like you, then you’re a b***end.


CrossFit was intended to be the minimum effective dose - meaning the smallest amount of work for the most amount of gain - that way you could go out and do your thing: surfing, climbing, drinking, whatever… CrossFit was never meant to take up 3 hours of your day, and it was never meant to take more out of your life than it gives back… 


Obviously it’s down to you to decide if those 18 hours a week are well spent, or whether you’d be better off training just 4 hours a week… Are you anywhere close to regional level? Does training put food on the table? Are those 18 hours yielding as much progress as you’d hoped? I get it, it’s good to have things you want to achieve in the gym, but what about everything outside the gym? How’s the family? You seen them much? How’s the business? How are your friends? You stepped foot on every continent yet? And when are you going to learn to play the piano?  


What I’m saying is: if you’re not world class, maybe simmer down and have a beer.


~ Coach Collins



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