Monday, September 01, 2008

What Your Coach Can Do For You


My good buddy Sterling Purdy sent me Coach Tom Venuto's answer to Eric regarding the effects of alcohol while trying to lose weight. It goes to show you the level of commitment our coaches have when it comes to helping people.

Nice work Tom!

Tony Horton 

QUESTION: Tom, if you are going to go out and have a drink or two with 
friends, which drink is the best when you're on a fat loss program
like BFFM? Would it be wine or a vodka mixed with soda? Is champagne
better or worse than the other two? Thanks, Eric

ANSWER: The first thing I would suggest is that you ask a better 
question! The answers you get are only as good as the quality 
of questions you ask. "Which alcohol is best?" is not a very 
good question when your goal is to get leaner. 
"Which alcohol is best" contains the presupposition that:
(A) that you ARE going to drink and 
(B) a best choice exists. 
If you asked, "How much damage would I do to my body and how 
much would I slow down my results if I drank drinking during 
my fat burning program?" you might get a different feeling 
towards alcohol. This type of question presupposes that there
 WILL be a down side, it's only a question of how bad it will be.
If you think about the consequences of drinking, instead of how
you can best "get away with it," it may change your emotional 
outlook towards alcohol. 
I get asked about alcohol and fat loss a lot. Almost every time, 
I have a sneaking suspicion that the person asking the question 
is really just looking for me to give them "permission" to drink. 
I'm not going to do that. Well, not exactly. But I do have 4 major
guidelines I'd suggest you consider if you're thinking about drinking:
[1] On fat loss programs, I don't recommend drinking alcohol at
all because alcohol suppresses fat oxidation and adds unnecessary
calories to your diet, which either displaces nutritious calories or 
erases your caloric deficit.
[2] For lifelong maintenance, I recommend that if you choose to
drink, that's fine, but only if you do so in moderation (1-2 drinks
 a day is considered moderation according to most health authorities) 
[3] I do not recommend daily drinking as part of a fitness lifestyle,
 because daily drinking can become habit forming. My recommendation
is limit drinking to weekends, holidays and or special occasions. 
[4] I recommend ALWAYS being cognizant of the calories that are 
added to your diet through alcohol and above all else know how 
many calories are in your drinks. 
If someone really MUST know which alcohol is worst on a fat burning
program, then it would be the one with the most calories. Conversely, 
the lesser of evils would be the drinks with fewer calories. 
For example, that would mean choosing light beers over regular beers. 
Bass ale and Sam Adams lager both contain 160 calories per bottle. 
Guinness extra Stout packs 176 calories per bottle. 
By comparison, Amstel light contains only 99 calories, Michelob Ultra
has 95 calories and Beck's Premier Light has 64 calories (Beck's 
pulled off that feat simply by lowering the alcohol content... I've
never tried it, but yes, I bet it tastes pretty watered down) 
On a tangent, I think it's a sin that light beers are marketed as
low carb and advertised with fitness images... but that will have
to be a rant for another day...
Champagne has about 96 calories per 4 oz glass. White wine such
as chardonnay has about the same caloric content as champagne. 
Any pure distilled liquor will contain about 65 calories per 
fluid ounce at 80 proof. When mixed with other calorie containing
 liquids, the calorie count goes up. A 6 ounce screwdriver will
 give you about 130 calories. A whiskey sour about 169 calories.
Naturally, mixed drinks may contain even more calories due to the
sugar in the drink mixes. 
A margarita is one of the worst, with an 8-ouncer packing about 500 
calories and a huge dollop of sugar! A couple of those with your cheese 
Nachos and enchiladas, refried beans, sour cream and guacaomole, and 
you've just knocked back about two days worth of calories in one meal. 
calorie bomb city! Fat loss is first and foremost a matter of calories in 
vs calories out, so the calorie counts are what you look at first.
If you wanted other criteria to judge the "best" alcoholic drink, 
you could also look at whether there is any health value, as in 
red wine, or whether there are any nutrients in the drink, such 
as what you might find in the vegetable juice of a bloody mary 
or the Orange juice in a screwdriver. 
However, I think that's a pretty moot point when you consider the
far superior way to get those same nutrients: eat whole vegetables
and oranges.
The fact is, you can certainly get leaner while drinking, as long
as you stay in a caloric deficit, but that doesn't mean it's the
smartest thing to do for your body and your health. 
Your friend and coach,
Tom Venuto


Christopher said...

Hey Tony,

GREAT POST and a double whammy. First, there are great coaches out there and are very thoughtful in giving their advice. I myself am a Team Beachbody coach and I really think long and hard about any questions asked of me and if in doubt, I'll do the research or just plain say, "I don't know the answer but I can ask someone so we both know". I think being a good coach means letting people know that you don't know everything. Watching the making of P90X, I saw that you, yourself, had gone to speak with people that were experts in the particular areas you wanted to develop. Smart, smart, and smart which leads to the success of P90X. How important it is for us to admit we just don't know everything. There's a saying that goes, "to know to get to the top of the mountain, one must ask the way of those who have been there."

Secondly, the alcohol question is always the question huh? Probably goes hand in hand with motivation. I think that Tom is right, people want permission to do something bad so they can say, "Well, Tony or Tom does it, why can't I?" I think it really comes down to the individual and what they can handle or should handle for themselves. For example, there is always debate on the "free day" for going on a strict diet. The free day of course being a day in which you can eat whatever you want without fear of detracting of your weight loss goals. One side of the argument says, "Well, that's like telling an alcoholic that once a week they can drink, it doesn't help." The other side of the argument says, "It's a way to not feel trapped into eating foods that your body has adapted to liking. (Drug addicts are eased off their addictions by being given doses of the drug and then scaling back little by little)" Personally, I think it's up to what the person can handle. There are people with dependant personalities and probably should not have a free day. There are people that need to have it because it makes them feel like they are not being deprived. I, personally had to have a free day when first starting my diet. It was a great thing to have because it made me look forward to having that day and allowed me a weekly reward for sticking to my diet the whole week. NOW, after awhile, having a free day worked against me cause when I would eat garbage, I felt like I had a food hangover the next morning. So I abandoned the free day because my body actually developed an aversion to garbage. In fact, there are certain restaurants I refuse to eat at because of the fact that there is nothing I can eat there and they give me the food hangover...I won't mention any names but I generally go there on FRIDAY'S.

As this relates to alcohol, I was an every other weekend drinker when I was a fat guy and I must say that I'm really not against drinking one way or another. When I started my diet, I didn't stop drinking as much because of it, rather I developed a desire to work out more than I felt like drinking. But while losing weight, I didn't think drinking on a regular basis was a good idea. I agree with Tom. I think I've drank 4 times in the last year and it was more cause of special occasions. One of those times, I was like, "Yeah, I'm only going to have two beers cause I got Yoga X tomorrow and yoga on a hangover can't be fun."

When I do drink any alcohol though, it's either a few Mic Ultras or with my mom, a few glasses of red wine. That's it, nothing major, can't even remember what it's like to dance around with a lamp shade on my head anymore.

Christopher Ortega (menelaus)


Thanks, for the good information, Tony!Im not a drinker, but I guess if you are really serious about losing weight... not drinking...goes along with not reaching out for that icecream just dont need it...if you are trying to lose weight.Disapline and working out go hand and hand, if you want results.

Amit said...

Great post Tony! I have practically shunned all other kinds of alcohol but i still cannot go without a cold one here n there. I usually finish a six pack over the duration of a week and never have more than 2 beers in a night. i guess thats as low as i can go. I believe that even though in an ideal world i'd love to keep myself away from alcohol forever, i think i have found a good balance. This goes not just to my drinking habits but also my eating habits. And as mentioned in the post, creating a healthy calorie deficit is crucial.

have a good one,


nick from ny said...


This was great advice all around, and the best advice is that advice which is asked for, right? Mmmm, wonder who told me that once??

It never ceases to amaze me how many people attempt to interject alcohol into the fitness equation on a daily basis!?! Ok, you've got the red-wine, anti-oxidant thing, even the wheat beer blood-pressure lowering argument. But, so what? The disadvantages definitely outweigh any other advantages. As so rightly stated by Tom, fat oxidation is hampered, not to mention how habit- forming the stuff can be. If we can honestly ask ourselves what type of benefit do we really get from consuming alcohol, I'm certain that there aren't many. They don't call it "getting pickled" for nuthin'. I mean, that's what's happening when somebody drinks--they're slowly bathing their vital organs in a formaldehyde-like liquid, progressively doing internal damage and even external damage, such as premature aging and excessive bloating.

Most, if not many, of our calories and toxins are derived from liquids. Why add to the misery? Instead of the pub, get buzzed naturally and invite your buddy or significant other to a yoga class, or a run in the park, followed by a steaming cup of sencha green tea. I'll bet the conversation and bonding will be animated as never before-;)

Be blessed,


Anthony said...


Everyone that has already commented has said enough about this is magnificent. I just wanted to thank you for continuing to do all you do! I have changed my life because of you and I appreciate it all!


Matthew Hernandez said...

It's really a nice feeling to see so many people like myself with the desire and motivation to endure the p90x...which i'll tell ya has made me happier and stronger than i could ever have imagined and i'm only done with my first week...i've already made the changes to my diet and have cut back my drinking tremendously...not going to lie..i love throwing back some drinks..i do however love my body more...and if i must drink then it has to be on the weekends...and of course in moderation...just want to thank everyone for the great information on diet and alcohol's the nicest feeling when i'm aching for the answer to a particular question then i find out much more than i bargained for...i can't wait to see my results after p90x lean program is over...then i think i'll begin the classic program after...much love..and good luck to everyone

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