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Napsgear: How To Track Alcohol For Macros

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  • Napsgear: How To Track Alcohol For Macros

    Alcohol is a big part of so many people's social lives and lifestyles, and many turn to their nightcap as a way to unwind. So much so that it's often a reason people use for why they "can't" start living a healthier lifestyle.

    We hear things like "I can't give up drinking," "What if I want to crack a cold one with the boys?" or "How will I enjoy a night out with my friends?" I've heard all of these, and it's important to acknowledge that some people may not be ready or willing to give up alcohol forever, even on their fitness journey. And that's okay! Alcohol can be part of a healthy lifestyle in moderation.

    So how do we incorporate alcohol into our plan without ruining our results and continuing to see progress? This blog is about tracking alcohol, especially for those who follow a macros-based diet (or IIFYM). I'll explain how you can include alcohol in your healthy lifestyle (always in moderation). I won't be discussing all the more detailed scientific information on how alcohol affects your fitness today. I'll save that for a future blog. Today we're going to keep it light.

    Living a healthy and balanced, sustainable lifestyle looks different for everyone. So if your lifestyle includes indulging in an alcoholic beverage here and there, I'll show you some simple pieces of knowledge on how to fit that into your plan while staying on track toward your long-term goals.

    How Alcohol Fits In The Plan
    We all know every gram of protein, fat, and carbs has calories. But alcohol tends to be overlooked as the fourth macronutrient. Alcohol has 7 calories per gram, to be exact.
    Let's review the calories per gram of macros:
    • Protein: 4 calories per gram
    • Carbohydrates: 4 calories per gram
    • Fat: 9 calories per gram
    • Alcohol: 7 calories per gram

    So if you follow a set calorie/macro goal, you might wonder how you track alcohol. Unfortunately, most diet tracking apps like MyFitnessPal or MM+ don't even have an entry slot for alcohol. So we need to go back to our goals. Whether trying to gain or lose weight, most of us track our overall calories (since macros make up calories). But you still want to ensure these calories from alcohol aren't putting you over your calorie goal. Obligatory reminder that our daily protein intake is crucial to getting the results we want and the physique we desire while ensuring our body is operating efficiently.

    So, we now have two factors to keep in mind: our daily calorie goal and protein goal. We need to make sure alcohol doesn't make us exceed our calorie goal but also make sure that we're able to hit our protein goal. To do this, add the total calories in the drinks we consume, then subtract that from our total calories for the day. And assuming you've hit your protein goal, those calories must come from somewhere… Should they come from fats? Carbs? Maybe both?

    It's really up to your personal preference. Based on your goals, lifestyle, nutrition, and how you feel that different macros affect you, you'll be the best judge for what works best for you. That said, here are 3 equations that are the simplest ways to figure out how many of those calories will subtract.

    Tracking Alcohol As Carbs:
    Total Alcohol Calories