Rule No. 2: Avoid binge food
When it comes to gaining weight, alcohol gets a worse rap than it deserves. Nutrition researcher Alan Aragon who, despite looking like the lovechild of Bruce Lee and The Hulk, has been known to kick back a beer (or four), took a look at the evidence to see how alcohol contributes to weight gain.
“One study found that men consuming an average of 56 grams of ethanol per day (four beers) took in 16 percent more total calories than a matched group of non-drinkers. The two groups -- drinkers and non-drinkers -- had identical amounts of physical activity. So, logically, you'd think that the drinkers packed on some pounds. They didn't. Both groups had the same body-mass index, despite all those excess calories for the drinkers.”
As it turns out, the reason that alcohol seems to make people fat is the good ol’ phenomenon of correlation-not-causation. It’s an easy trap to fall into, and many people simply blame alcohol for any weight gain. But they’re probably forgetting the late-night kebabs and burger runs that came with the booze. And those are the real culprit.
Let’s say that you need 10 shots to get you through a Saturday night, which, whoa, but no judgment. That’s less than 1,000 calories, much of which you’ll probably expend thanks to the aforementioned questionable dancing. In contrast, the double quarter pounder meal that you consume afterwards might contain somewhere around 1,600 calories.
Realistically, even the most committed can (and probably will) make this mistake. You’ll probably be out with friends, and despite bragging about your bench press and your “nearly there” abs, you might be peer pressured into a late-night feed. And just like that, a minor case of the munchies sabotages your quest for a six-pack.
I handle this common scenario using two practical tips. First, steer your posse towards a diner. Diners are a great option, because while others can indulge in greasy, fatty food, there will always be a relatively lean, high-protein option -- chicken breast and fish, for example, are fair game.
Second, while you’re still sober, write future-you a note telling you exactly what you’re going to do at the end of the night: “We’re going to go to Denny’s and get the grilled chicken breast with a side salad instead of mashed potatoes.” Yes, this might seem silly, but it works; reading this message will remind you of your overall goals when you’re more prone to making bad decisions.