Guidance when eating out a group of friends enjoy a sociable meal


How impactful is alcohol on your health and quest for a better body? How do you enjoy alcohol and still stay fit and well? And can it actually be beneficial for you health? These are all questions we explore and more in this article. 


A psychoactive substance consumed by millions of people all over the world. Manufactured through the fermentation and distillation of starches and natural sugars (carbs). It can affect our cognitive function, mental capacity and emotions. distorting our judgment, lowering our inhibitions and response times and sentience.

From a nutritional perspective alcohol is considered the fourth macro nutrient, although has no nutritional value at all. Which means no macro or micronutrients. 

There are 7 calories per 1g of alcohol. Which is the second highest macro, after fat that has 9 calories per gram. Practically speaking thats 230 calories in a 500ml can of Cider, or 238 calories in a small glass of red wine (250ml), around 700 calories in a bottle, on average! 


The effects of alcohol largely depend a several factors:

  1. How Much & How Often Alcohol is Consumed 
  2. Age 
  3. Genetics 
  4. Weight 
  5. General State Of Health

Your health response to alcohol largely depends on these above characteristics. However research regularly demonstrates that chronic use of alcohol can be detrimental to your health. In fact chronic alcohol use can affect every system in your body and  has been linked to over 60 problematic health condition.

After drinking alcohol, it ends up in our liver, where it is metabolised. Alcohol is rapidly  turned into its basic form, ethanol. This is very toxic to our bodies, which makes it an urgent priority for the body to “get rid of” (metabolise). As alcohol is metabolised it is turned into  less harmful and potentially usable sources of energy. This though impacts other metabolic pathways. Including the digestion and absorption of proteins, carbs and fats. Alcohol in the system uses up molecules needed to break down these macros, which reduces the ability to efficiently use the nutrition from the other sources (protein, carbs & fats). Because alcohol metabolism is prioritised over other nutrients. There is greater potential for these to be stored as body fat and metabolised for energy much later. Which in brief can make you fatter. 



Alcohol, Liver Damage
Alcohol is metabolised predominantly in the liver which is why this organ is at high risk of developing disease. The severity of this impact is leveraged by the amount and length of time alcohol is abused. Persistent heavy drinking increases the risk and severeness of damage done. Consistenrt excessive drinking increases the risk of a fatty liver. With care and attention this can be reversed in many cases but continuous abuse causes further issues. Abusing alcohol alters the liver’s metabolism of fats, and excess fat accumulates in the liver. Symptoms of this include: Nausea, abdominal pain, swollen stomach and legs, tiredness and mental fogginess and physical weakness.


Alcohol, Gaining Fat, Excess Calories

Alcohol has no nutritional value. Studies that have looked at the affects of alcohol and weight gain are interesting. It appears those who drink heavily gain will likely gain weight, while low to moderate drinkers may even loose weight. Its though thought this is more to do with lifestyle and personality rather than the alcohol itself. A study that found people to loose weight after drinking recommended amount also had a better adjusted and well balanced lifestyle, which arguably is the reason they lost / sustained weight. Whereas those who drank heavily had other in balances in areas of health, which could by why they gained. 


More studies need to be conducted for more definitive outcomes, but again it looks like moderation is key. 

Understanding how many calories are in drinks may also help you make better choices. Here are some typical examples of some well known alcoholic options: 

1 Pint Draught Beer – 182 calories

1 Pint Larger 4% – 180 calories

1 Pint Cider 5% – 249 calories  

5 fl oz Red Wine – 125 calories

5 fl oz White Wine – 120 calories

1 Shot of Vodka & Diet Coke – 100 calories 

1 Shot Single Malt Whiskey – 100 calories 

1 Shot Baileys – 164 calories 



Alcohol, Heart Health, Muscle

Similarly to weight gain and alcohol. The association with heart health appears to be comparable. Heavy drinking dramatically increase the risk of heart attack ad stroke mainly, but also increase blood pressure, high triglycerides amongst many other health issues.  

Stick to the recommended daily allowance or under and reduce the risk to yourself. 

Occasional drinking of red wine may improve heart health some research suggests.


Brain, Alcohol, Health, Cognition

The link between alcohol and brain health seems to be linked to the volume and frequency in which your drink. In short binge drinking tends to result in more short term damage and in rare instances fatality. Whereas the effects of long term heavy drinking are far more serious and mostly irreversible.

Binge drinkers tend to experience confusion, attention deficits, lowered inhibitions and even blackouts. Consistent moderate and heavy drinkers increase the risk to their health in many serious ways. Brain damage, dementia, heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, depression, psychosis, cognitive functioning, nerve damage, digestive issues, diabetes, liver disease, many cancers, infertility, premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunctions, chronic pancreatitis, plus more! And thats just the physical effects, emotional, financial and relational impacts are also very seriously associated with long term dinking. 


Sorry to keep banging this drum but the same associative drinking patterns and risk levels are seen here. Moderate drinking is less impactful, while high volume, long term drinking may cause serious nerve related issues. Because alcohol hinders the absorption of certain essential nutrients this can result in nerve damage. Typically people who drink lots may start to experience tingling or pain in their limbs. This can be a sign of nerve damage (alcoholic neuropathy).

Those with alcoholic neuropathy have considerable damage to their peripheral nerves. These nerves pass signals through the body, along the spinal cord, and to the brain. The vitamins listed below (“vitamin disruption”)  are blocked by alcohol which impact this area of health. 


ARD (Alcohol Related Dementia)

Otherwise know as Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. Alcohol directly impacts your brain cells, which in turn affects cognitive functioning and memory. Alcohol also block and disrupts the absorption of some essential vitamins like thiamine (B1), zinc, folic acid and B12. 

In chronic alcohol use the lack of thiamin (B1) permanently damages the nerve cells. Thiamine  helps brain cells produce energy from glucose. where there is a deficiency in thiamine, brain cells don’t produce sufficient energy to function properly. It is this affect that can cause alcohol related dementia. Personality changes are also sometimes seen in people who have this type of damage. 


Furthermore, failing to address and treat Wernicke’s syndrome may result in Korsakoff syndrome, or Korsakoff psychosis. This is an impairment of cognitive functioning and memory. An indicating factor a person has developed this disease is confabulation. Which essentially means people tell elaborate, but believable untruths because they have significant gaps in their memory. Although many other parts of their brain are still highly functioning. The impaired cognitive functioning can also reduce a persons ability to learn and remember new skills.


Depression, Head, Sad, Upset, Struggle

Alcohol and depression are closely linked. Often people feel they need to drink to manage depression or low mood, whilst drinking can invoke low mood and lead to depression. 

Alcohol is a suppressant and can, you may feel “better” when drinking this is merely a short term mask. The long term negative  impacts are far greater. 

Often treating alcohol addiction as the priority over depression can drastically improve a persons wellbeing.



Nuzest - Good Green Vitality-750g

Consuming alcohol, even small amounts short term, but especially larger amounts long term, impedes your aerobic metabolism and endurance abilities. To underside this better it would be useful to know a little more about the vitamin deficiencies associated with drinking alcohol.

As we’ve already discussed alcohol hinders the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals.

  • Thiamin (vitamin B1) is needed to help our bodies use carbohydrates for energy. helping electrolytes flow in and out of muscle and nerve cells. It keeps our nervous system healthy and metabolises proteins and fats  to help form haemoglobin. Important  for the transport of oxygen.  

  • Zinc is vital for both chemical reactions in the body and metabolising energy. Also helping to create DNA cells, repair damaged tissue, build proteins and support our immune systems. With this not being absorbed properly by you body because of alcohol, it greatly impacts your endurance capacity.   
  • Folic Acid (Vitamin B9) helps the production of healthy red blood cells. Which help carry oxygen from the lung to performing body tissues. Alcohol impacts this production, thus reduces aerobic capacity and performance. 
  • Cobalimin (Vitamin B12) cannot be produced by our bodies and therefor need to be ingested. It’s required for the production of red blood cells. It is used to create energy, maintain eye health and help memory. The impact of Vit B12 being blocked by alcohol increases lethargy, mental fogginess and the risk of eye diseases. 


Young caucasian tired athlete man wipes sweat from forehead sitting on work out area outdoors

Alcohol is a diuretic and increases the risk of dehydration. Consuming alcohol also interrupts metabolism one impact associated with this is increased insulin secretion, which lowers blood sugars, also known as hypoglycaemia.

Sugar is needed in the blood to give us energy. Its simple therefor to identify that less sugar in the blood, meals less energy for performance.

Drinking alcohol also negatively impacts our nervous system, balance, coordination, reaction times and motor skills. All of which decreases performance and increases the risk of injury.

Increasing water intake can help reduce the affects of alcohol, but alcohol will need to be metabolised before optimal hydration can take place. 


Photo of unimpressed European man shows small gesture, tells how much he worked on muscles, lifts dummbell, wants to have perfect biceps, wears sport gloves, poses against yellow background free space

Drinking alcohol before a workout is clearly not advantageous at all. In fact doing so would increase your risk of injury considerably. Consuming it directly after is also negatively impacting on your progress, particularly with muscle gains and recovery. 

A workout sends signals to your muscles to adapt and grow, especially a weight resistance or intense one.  Alcohol interferes with this signalling pathway. which prevent proteins broken down into amino acids and used for muscle growth and repair. To make this worse, alcohol also send signals to initiate catabolism (muscle breakdown). A lose; lose situation.

Our lean body mass (muscle) is in a constant state of breakdown and repair. Eating protein is essential to sustain. and build muscle. This biological process is called protein synthesis. Alcohol inhibits protein synthesis preventing muscle from being repaired properly.

Heavy alcohol consumption lowers testosterone and increases oestrogen. Not only does this impair you ability to build muscle it can also reduce fertility and lower your sex drive. Testosterone levels usually normalise around 3 weeks after in otherwise healthy people. 



Drinking alcohol increases cortisol (stress hormone). Elevated levels for extended periods of time can begin to breakdown lean body mass. Furthermore your natural production of growth hormone also declines. This impacts mood, libido, muscle degradation (muscle loss), memory, attention span, fatigue, MPB (male pattern baldness) even increasing the risk of stroke and heart disease.   

 Alcohol decreases growth hormone which has negative effects on blood sugar maintenance and metabolism of muscles, bones, and the brain. Alcohol decreases luteinizing hormone, which in turn reduces testosterone production. Alcohol increases estrogen, which can have feminizing effects in males.


On top of the changes, alcohol induces on metabolism and hormones, it also creates damaging products in our body that damage cells. As mentioned previously, the body registers alcohol as very toxic. When alcohol is metabolised it creates reactive oxygen species, which are molecules that cause a lot of damage to other cells in the body.


So we’ve established that alcohol doesn’t really favour your efforts when trying to get fit and healthy. Shocker?! However for millions of people abstinence isn’t practical. And actually some studies do show that alcohol IN MODERATION and less often may have some benefit for brain health, but hold your horse’s. One large study did show that those who consumed alcohol moderately did have a lower risk of heart disease compared to those who abstained. However it was recorded that it wasn’t because they drank it was because generally they had a better balanced lifestyle. In fact the study demonstrated that any level of alcohol consumption increase the risk of cardiovascular disease even if the risk is low. 

Hopefully you’ve spotted the pattern here. MODERATION! So what is moderate consumption. See below the recommended daily maximum for your alcoholic treat. 


Ok so if your going to drink, its highly advisable you so so in moderation. What you drink matter less in comparison to how much your drink. Different fermented drink however can have varying impacts on health in different ways. It ultimately depends on what your goals are. 

If you want to enjoy alcohol and stay lean then clear spirits with diet sodas would keep the calories down in comparison to drinks like ciders, beers and lagers. A small glass of red however does have antioxidant benefits. 

The Run down

So what’s the practical takeaway from all this?

  • Alcohol is a toxin and treated like one by the body. It’s where the phrase “pick your poison” comes from after all. 
  • Some studies do she that alcohol may benefit aspects of health, but that should not be the reason drink alcohol. You’d gain much more health benefits from hiring your 5 day, with far less side affects and potential risks. 
  • Ideally no alcohol consumption is best. Especially if your trying to maintain good health, stay lean, increase quality muscle and improve your sporting performance.
  • In the UK and many countries all over the world, drinking alcohol is widely accepted as sociable and relaxing. It can for sure be enjoyed in this way. However here in the UK binge culture is a considerable risk especially amongst younger people. Whilst older people tend to drink more often but in less short term volume.
  • Binge drinking and consistently drinking larger amounts is extremely dangerous and sometimes fatal. Long term effects are very damaging to health, with an increased risk to over 60 related and preventable diseases.
  • If you can enjoy a drink and stop at the recommended amount, then drinking alcohol could be beneficial if its . Particularly to help you relax and socialise. Which are also important factors to your overall health. If though your a person that binge drinks and having one will lead to lots then I’d advise to take a no alcohol approach. 
  • If you’ve worked out or taken part in intense exercise then avoid drinking fro at least 24 hours after. Your body needs to recover and heal. Alcohol will hinder this. Again depending on the amount, but if you’re serious about making gains, put the beer down and pick up a water. 
  • To better manage weight, look at lower calorie options like spirit with die, sugar free mixers. Ensure to eat, preferably a few hours before your first drink. Aim to eat higher protein during this time avoiding too much fat and carbohydrate.   
  • Alcohol doesnt just impact your physical health. It can affect every aspect of your health swell as the health of those around you. Abusing alcohol is detrimental to your body and can impact the lives who love you. This often includes psychological, emotional and relational health deteriorations. Seriously think about getting help if you or others are impacted by your drinking. This link has helpful information and contacts to further support you.  
  • Creating a balanced approach to alcohol, understanding the associated risks and small health / social benefits may help you to adjust your behaviours or curb unhealthy habits. Ultimately if you’re able to cut alcohol form your diet then you’re on to a winner. If you are going to drink then avoid binge drinking and moderate, heavy consistent consumption.