Alcohol & Your Health + Fitness Guide
By the time Friday comes around the weekend is well and truly on our mind and a large percentage of us will have come home to unwind from the working week with an alcoholic beverage of choice.
Not only are we more likely to consume alcohol on the weekend, but it is always a large part of almost any celebration or special event – be it a birthday, end of exams, new job promotion, or just going to dinner with friends. It is something that should be enjoyed in moderation, as can have some serious health effects associated with the consumption of it. But how much does alcohol consumption really impact our health and fitness goals?
Alcohol consumption can play a large role in stopping us from reaching our health and fitness targets. Those looking to compete and elite athletes generally limit alcohol throughout competition prep or sporting seasons. Not only can it lead to weight gain, muscle soreness and decreased performance, alcohol is the second most calorie dense compound, after fat. Fat contains 9 calories per one gram, with alcohol containing 7 calories per one gram. (Fat and carbs carry 4 calories per 1 gram). Ever wonder why you have pulled up so sore following a sporting game / grand final that was followed by a night of celebrating? Alcohol can affect soft tissue and increase the likelihood of muscle soreness and can potentially delay injury repair. It also acts as a diuretic, leading to dehydration. Alcohol increases the amount of urine we produce and removes a greater amount of water from the body. I am sure we have all experienced the after effects of alcohol – the dreaded hangover; headache, nausea, upset stomach, shakiness, thirst and body aches and pains.
My tips for those of you that feel you must drink, but still try to keep on track with achieving your goals;
- Limit your intake
- Consume light alcoholic drinks – the lower the alcohol content, the fewer the calories
- Avoid sugary drinks – sugars are a form of carbohydrate, the sweeter the drink, the more calories it generally contains – so sugary, full strength alcoholic drinks are not the best choice.
- Stick to white drinks/spirits – vodka, gin. Sometimes the darker the drink, the worse the hangover – due to a presence that can lead to a hangover effect
- Mix your drinks with soda water – be it wine, or spirits. This will help to better maintain your hydration status
- Factor the calories of alcohol into your daily meal plan, to try and ensure you don’t go over your daily energy intake goals – My Fitness Pal is great
- The morning following kick start the day with a HIIT session. Yep, probably the last think you feel like doing if you have had a few drinks – but how badly do you want to reach your goals? Completing a -HIIT session will help to begin metabolising the alcohol you have consumed, and can also lose some of this through sweating
- Avoid the greasy, processed food! Fuel your body with foods with a high water content that will help rehydrate you, and high in vitamins and minerals – think fruit salad, or a large serving of veggies
- Drink plenty of water
If you are serious about reaching your goals you may just have to cut back on or ditch the alcohol completely. Trust me – you can have a good night out without it and you will wake feeling refreshed and ready to go the following morning. Get your friends in on the action too – and with October just around the corner what better excuse to stay on track!
Keep your goals in check this weekend and don’t underestimate what how the regular alcoholic beverage can affect your health, fitness and weight loss goals.