My home gym, where I personally work out as well as train my clients, is in my garage. It’s pretty well stocked, with a bike and treadmill, plenty of weights of various kinds, and a kegerator.  Oh wait, that last one isn’t part of my home gym!  But it does show that beer is definitely part of my (and my homebrewing husband’s) life.

But I want to be my healthiest self, right?  I train hard as a distance runner, love to build muscle, plus I am a trainer and a coach.  Good news, faint of heart, alcohol can play a part in a healthy lifestyle.

So, that being said, the first question is, how much?  Obviously binging on a daily basis isn’t going to count as a healthy lifestyle.  According to Precision Nutrition (the organization I received my Nutrition Coaching certification through), moderate drinking is considered 7 drinks a week for women (with no more than 3 a day), and 14 drinks a week for men (with no more than 4 a day).

Just FYI from Precision Nutrition

Now I don’t know about you, but that seems pretty generous to me.  But of course, we have to remember that everyone handles (metabolizes) alcohol differently, depending on factors like age, body size, genetics, and even digestive enzymes available.  So even for two people of the same gender and size, metabolization may be very different.

You may have heard that alcohol can actually have health benefits, even keep you alive longer!  Don’t get too excited, those studies show correlation, not causation (meaning the stats go together, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that alcohol is what is prolonging lives).

But there are some actual health benefits researchers have nailed down:

  • Compounds in red wine may help burn fat, boost your immune system, help keep your blood flowing, and even improve memory.
  • Beer actually contains a decent amount of vitamins and minerals, and darker (ahem, better) beers can have a good iron content.  Beer can also protect your brain cells, keep up bone density, and prevent kidney stones.
  • Hard liquors also have some benefits, such as vodka and heart health, tequila and weight loss, and bourbon and muscle soreness (but of course we are talking straight here, not in sugary mixes!)

However (and it’s a big however), there are obviously plenty of negatives associated with alcohol intake, especially moderate to high intake.  Why?  Because of metabolization.  Alcohol is actually “poisoning” our bodies, and our livers have to take care of it properly.  Obviously making the liver handle too much is not going to be a good thing, no matter what other benefits may arise.  Most alcohol is going to cause weight gain, especially around the abdomen, where it can cause serious health issues.

And then there is, of course, the issue of dependency.  I am not going to delve deeply into that, but obviously having something that you “need” to have in order to feel okay is a dangerous, slippery slope.

To quote PN one more time:

I am going to side with PN, and say if you don’t drink, or don’t drink much, maintain at that level.  Whatever health benefits alcohol may have are not drastic enough to weight out the possible negatives if you start drinking, or start drinking more, and can be obtained from much healthier sources (you know, like fruit and vegetables).  If you drink around the “moderate” standards I explained above, I would consider cutting down back a little, or at least making sure you don’t end up going over.  If you are regularly drinking heavily, I would encourage you to do your best to take it down to a moderate level, and definitely seek help if there is an addiction issue.

As for myself, I will keep enjoying my homebrew from my kegerator (on a low to moderate level)!