Skip to main content

Think your drinks don’t matter?

Here’s a sobering a thought.
Alcohol Macros
Alcohol Macros

By Adam Lewinski, Director at Wynyard

At Vision PT Hunter Street, we believe nutrition forms a fundamental part of our client’s success in their health and fitness journey. Understanding how nutrition plays a role in achieving their goal is key for not only short-term results, buts sets the tone for long-term improvements to your health and fitness. 

To achieve their health and fitness goals, each client is prescribed a certain number of macronutrients which include carbohydrates, proteins and fats, based on several criteria to achieve a certain goal in a particular time frame. Most people are familiar with these major ‘macros’, but did you know that alcohol is the 4th macronutrient? It plays a major role in influencing your health and fitness results. Today we are going to discuss how it’s process by the body, it’s energy value and how it impacts your health and fitness goals. 

It’s no surprise that weight loss is the dominant reason most people undertake a journey to improve their health. To lose weight, the most important factor is creating a caloric deficit by manipulating your nutritional intake and training volume. However, most clients, if not all, fail to account for the energy value of alcohol. This is turn hinders their success by moving them out of their calorie deficit and slowing down their chance of success.  


Alcohol Metabolism 

Alcohol (ethanol) is metabolised (processed by the body) via several processes or pathways. The most common of these pathways involves two hepatic enzymes, namely alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH). Once consumed, alcohol is first oxidised to acetaldehyde, a toxic substance and known carcinogen (an agent that may contribute to cancer). It is then further metabolised to a less active by product called acetic acid, which then can be eliminated via urine or used for energy production. 


Energy Value of Alcohol

Let’s talk about energy. As mentioned earlier, the most important factor relating to weight loss is creating a caloric deficit. Each macronutrient, carbohydrate, protein, fat and alcohol has a caloric value:  


  • Carbohydrates – 4 calories per gram. 

  • Protein – 4 calories per gram. 

  • Fat – 9 calories per gram. 

  • Alcohol sits in between – 7 calories per gram.  


What is a Calorie?  

A calorie is a unit of measurement. So, when we talk about calories, we are talking about how much energy our body can extract from a given macro to be utilised in any number of ways, including, but not limited to, fuelling muscles, supplying energy for your digestive and nervous systems and also providing energy for brain function.  


A Real-World Example 

Let’s put all this energy talk into perspective that’s easier to understand. A James Squire 150 Lashes Pale Ale (345ml) has 140 calories per bottle. Another way to look at this, is that the energy value of this alcoholic drink is equal to 35g of carbohydrate or 15.5g of fat. You would have to remove either 35g of carbohydrate, 15.5g of fat or a combination of the two out of your daily macros to accommodate for this one beer. You may consider one bottle of beer as a standard drink, well this isn’t always the case. 


What is a Standard Drink? 

  • Light beer (2.7% alc/vol) 425ml = 105 calories. 

  • Mid strength beer (3.5% alc/vol) 375ml = 90 calories. 

  • Full strength beer (4.9% alc/vol) 285ml = 104 calories. 

  • Regular cider (4.9% alc/vol) 285ml = 151 calories. 

  • Sparkling wine (13% alc/vol) 100ml = 65 calories. 

  • Wine (12% alc/vol) 100ml = 68 calories. 

  • Spirits (40% alc/vol) 30ml = 67 calories. 

*Calorie values of alcohol differ from brand to brand. For more information, visit: 

Keep in mind that these quantities are quite small and this means that many single drinks, can be more than one standard drink. For example, taking our James Squire 150 Lashes Pale Ale (345ml) which according to its label is equivalent to 1.2 standard drinks, meaning that two bottles equate to 2.4 standard drinks, rather than two and so on. The question you may be asking yourself right now is, “am I drinking the standard units of alcohol?”. The answer is probably no. Sorry!  


How does this affect your goals? A simple case study 

Let’s apply the above knowledge to a client who is 80kg and their goal is to slowly lose about 2kg over the next 9 weeks. Their training requirements will be 110min of cardio in addition to their 2 x PT sessions each week. Their daily weight loss macros would be: 

  • Carbohydrates: 130g 

  • Protein: 115g 

  • Fat: 45 

  • Calories per day: 1385 calories per day 

To compare, let’s look at their maintenance macros. Meaning, their daily macro intake to maintain their weight: 

  • Carbohydrates: 165 

  • Protein: 145g 

  • Fat: 60 

  • Calories per day: 1780 calories per day 

This equates to a calorie deficit of 395 calories per day to achieve a 2kg loss over 9 weeks, training 110min cardio and 2 x PT sessions each week hitting their macros everyday 100%. 

Let’s imagine that this client has completed their food diary for the day, it has been accurately recorded using their MyVision app. They are confident their portions sizes have been entered correctly by weighing their food. While having dinner, this client decides to have two additional red wines measuring out at 150ml each. They add the additional drinks to their MyVision app and discover that they have increased their energy intake by an additional 204 calories for the day. 

So, they have reduced their calorie deficit for the day by approximately 50% and this is only true if their nutritional intake during the day is 100% accurate. If they didn’t record their nutrition, they might already have over consumed their energy needs and with an additional 204 calories no thanks to those two wines, they might now be heading into a calorie surplus without even knowing it! 

Ever polished of a bottle of wine in one night? This is a common occurrence. A bottle of wine is 7.5 standard drinks or 511 calories, so if this client’s nutrition stayed the same, even being 100% perfect, they tracked their nutrition and is 100% accurate, this client would have not only moved out of their caloric deficit, but also moved out of their maintenance calories and now has moved into surplus, or in other words weight gain. You may think this is an ‘extreme case’, but unfortunately this happens often. One drink turns to many when we are having fun very quickly! Not discounting peer and ‘networking’ pressures when with corporate clientele. “I’m expected to drink at my work functions”. Sound familiar?   


A sobering exercise! 

It’s time for some accountability! Let’s do an exercise! 

  • Using your MyVision app, record your nutritional intake for one day where you had a few drinks, don’t be shy, any day where you had more than one drink. Be as accurate as possible. Need help? Check out this video:  

  • Now, add the number of drinks you consumed, adjusting the serving size to suit. Need help? Check our this video: 

  • At the top of the page, swipe Your Macros left to reveal your alcohol consumption and how it affected your energy for the day! 

  • Send it to you trainer using the Save and Share to Trainer function at the bottom of the page! 

  • Your trainer will review your plan and provide feedback! WOWEE! 


Strategies to limit the impact of alcohol 

  • Be honest with yourself, allow yourself a drink occasionally but have a limit. 

  • Create interesting drinks that you can sit on and enjoy, rather than a nip of spirit with a small amount of mixer that won’t last very long before you need another. 

  • Have a few non-alcoholic drinks in-between to spread out the number of alcoholic drinks you consume. 

  • Remove any sugary mixes, a vodka and diet coke can have approximately 60 calories, with regular coke, 130. 

  • Have days where you are alcohol-free. Your body needs a rest and recover. Remember, the body cannot burn carbohydrates and fat while there is alcohol in the body.  

  • Over consumption of alcohol may contribute to health failures in the future. Just to name a few health concerns:  

  • Increased risk of diabetes and weight gain. 

  • Impotence and other problems with sexual performance. 

  • Cancers such as stomach cancer, bowel cancer, breast cancer, mouth cancer, throat cancer, oesophageal cancer and liver cancer. 

  • Fertility issues such as reduced sperm count and reduced testosterone levels in men 

  • Brain damage and brain-related conditions such as stroke and dementia 

  • Heart issues such as high blood pressure, heart damage and heart attacks 

  • Cirrhosis of the liver and liver failure; and 

  • Mental health issues such as increased risk of suicide, depression and anxiety. In addition, alcohol greatly exacerbates these conditions if someone is already suffering from them. 


One final note 

If you’re having trouble with your alcohol consumption. Talk to your trainer. You are not alone and your trainer has experienced many clients potentially with similar challenges relating to alcohol consumption. If that’s a bit too personal still, please consider contacting our affiliated support service, Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or 

Are you our next success story?

Enjoy a two week FREE experience pass, when you book a free consultation today.

Icon FacebookIcon Linkedin