Alrighty, lets talk about alcohol.
We all know its bad for us, but its also part of the way of life for most people in some capacity. So, lets look at some specific reasons it is unhealthy and not helpful towards health and fitness goals. But because we are not all doom and gloom, we will also look at ways to incorporate into a balanced health and fitness approach for the everyday person.
Ways alcohol can hinder/derail health and fitness goals:
- It is a toxin. That’s right, it is a toxin and the body has no way to use it. It will be processed and filtered out of your body. 0 health benefits. That filtration process, if regular and in large amounts can make the liver susceptible to free radicals.
- Poor food choices. How often would you have a night out with a few drinks and order a salad? And if it’s a particularly big night out, theres always the trip to Mcdonalds on the way home and poor food choices the next day too. This can easily undo a week or 2s worth of progress.
- Calories from mixers. If your trying to lose fat, the extra calories from mixers like juices and soft drinks will quickly add up and double, or even triple your intake for the day.
- Hangovers. There is the obvious challenges with these like headaches, but the more sever ones are basically the body recovering from working over time to process the alcohol consumed, and in some cases still processing and purging it.
- Sleep. Ever noticed how tired you are after a session? Or even just a few drinks if its been a while since you last drank? This is because alcohol inhibits the REM part of sleep where the body gets the most benefits. So while you may get to sleep easier, because alcohol is a depressant, the quality is dramatically reduced.
So those are a few ways in which alcohol will negatively affect us. But in the interest of balance, lets look at how to minimise the impact. Some of these will be pretty obvious, but that’s all because they work.
- Hydrate before during and after consuming alcohol. Drinking plenty of water will help your body dilute, process and remove alcohol.
- Choose low alcohol options. Mid strength beers, and generally lower % options are a great way to manage you intake. And there are plenty of 0% options now in all categories which are great for social situations especially if your driving.
- Low sugar mixers. Zero sugar soft drink mixers will drastically lower your calorie intake.
- Plan food options in advance. Choosing healthy options before an event and having options available for the next day will also give you the best chance to get back on track after drinking.
- Be the designated driver. Being responsible for how family and friends get home will definitely keep you from drinking too much.
If you have health and fitness goals or a weight loss goal and are currently drinking regularly, I highly suggest making changes here. This will have a greater affect on performance and weight loss than food choice and training every day of the week.