Alcohol: Dun, Dun, Dunnnnn by Samantha Mackinnon, RD, LD
One aspect of our lifestyle that can really impact our health goals is drinking alcohol AND because of that, some of the other habits that go hand-in-hand with those beverage choices. That chain of events may start innocently enough with intending to only drink 1-2 alcoholic beverages. Then, the next thing you know, you’ve downed another two margaritas in the spirit of having a good time socializing and letting loose. Most of us have been there. Unfortunately, what usually also follows is some mindless munching on probably not the healthiest foods at 3am followed by a day of UberEats because of the massive hangover.
The problem with these weekend habits is that they can really set us back as far as our body composition and improving fitness. Alcohol is what we in the nutrition world call empty calories, meaning that there are a lot of calories by way of alcohol, carbs and sugar and no purpose nutritionally. Alcohol stuns our digestive system (our intestines get drunk too!) and can definitely affect our digestion and absorption. Have you ever had a really bad tummy ache post night out drinking? Yep, your food choices probably didn’t help but alcohol definitely impacted that too.
The overconsumption of calories in one or two nights also can completely undo your week’s hard work exercising and eating right. In addition, it may also impact your workouts following that alcohol consumption. A study from Barnes, Mündel, and Stannard (2010) suggests that a moderate dose of alcohol may impair normal muscle recovery after very strenuous exercise.
If you’re working on your health goals, it may be time to implement some healthier weekend alcohol strategies and go into it with a plan. Try some of these strategies on for size:
•Sign up for a workout for the following morning to help keep you accountable.
•No alcohol until you finish a big glass of water before the beverage. Aim to switch between alcoholic beverage and water each time.
•Know what you’re ordering before you get there. An easy go-to for minimal calories/carbs/sugar is a clear alcohol (gin/vodka/white rum) with soda water or water in general, with a piece of fruit. Red wine is also lower in sugar than white wine and a good option. If you’re at a cocktail bar, avoid ingredients with simple syrup or ask if it can be made without. You can also be super classy and opt for a scotch on the rocks (definitely SIP this one).
•Savor your beverage of choice and be mindful when sipping. This can help slow you down. Also, focus on the conversations socializing- it’s why you’re there right?
•Lastly, if you know you’re done drinking but are feeling the societal pressures to drink, make like a secretly pregnant lady and ask the bartender to make you a low sugar mocktail with soda water and lots of herbs and fruit thrown in to appear as though you’re drinking 😉
2019 04 28