I've been seeing a lot of talk of "Dry January" this week and I think that it is AWESOME. :-D
Yes, I know that I always preach moderation in all things; no good food no bad food, and I do teach my clients how to incorporate it while still working towards their goals. :-) However, in the case of alcohol I do believe that less is better. I would rather that someone ate a cheesedog or donut before alcohol haha, because those at least give us some nutrients that our body can put to use AND they don't lower inhibition and energy.
Alcohol is a legitimate toxin. That word is thrown around, quite often incorectly, so I don't use it here lightly. Our body metabolizes alcohol to a chemical called acetaldehyde, a highly toxic substance and known carcinogen.
Fun fact #1 - it is the only consumable source of calories that is not a member of the 3 macronutrient families (Protein, Fats, Carbohydrates). By some it is classified as a 4th macronutrient, however that is disputed by some since the definition of a nutrient is "a substance that provides nourishment essential for growth and the maintenance of life."
Fun Fact #2 - When we drink alcohol our body immediatly begins metabolizing it; it prioritizes it over anything else that we've eaten or drank in it's effort to rid the body of it. Thus anything else that we have consumed will not be burned as fuel and so is typically stored as body fat.
Fun Fact #3 - Drinking increases our risk of cancer, liver disease, pancreatitis, weakened heart and high blood pressure, and also most commonly lowers our immune system putting us at risk for higher incidence of colds and flu. Heavy consistent drinking can even shrink the brain.
Ok, so with all of that being said, I suggest moderation. Have a drink once in awhile and enjoy it, because life is too short as it is. :-) IF you have a fat loss or performance goal however, I can guarantee you that minimal to no alcohol consumption WILL help you to reach those goals a lot faster. It's not even solely the alcohol causing issues in this scenario, but rather everything that comes with a night out drinking; less quality sleep, dehydration, lowered inhibition to overeat, increased cravings for calorie dense food, less chance of a good (or any) workout the next day, etc.
Try a Dry January, give it a chance to see how it makes you feel, notice the changes in your waistline and the performance gainZ in the gym. <3