I’ve heard it over and over again, “I’ll workout, give up junk food, heck, I won’t eat carbs. But, take away my wine? Count me out!” I get it. Not only does a cocktail taste good, drinking alcohol is fun. You feel that post-workout glow, meditative calm, and happiness without putting in any of the work! And sometimes, it’s totally okay to take a shortcut to your mental island get-a-way.
Personally, I don’t drink on a regular basis. When I come home from stressful day at work, it’s not instinctual to pour a glass of Rose. I drink maybe once a week or for special occasions like a friend’s birthday, wedding, date night, or girls night in. If you’re the type to have a glass of wine (or more) four or more times a week, it will get in the way of your weight loss and fitness goals. Cutting the habit will be hard. However, if you’re trying to make strides in your fitness and health, it’ll be totally worth it!
Alcohol does a few things to our bodies that, when consumed on a regular basis or in big quantities, hinders fitness progress. In order to fit in your glass of Pinot, I have put together some guidelines so you can have an occasional drink and lose weight too!
- Keep the junk out of sight. We all know drinking lowers inhibitions. And who doesn’t love feeling confident and relaxed? However, this also means it’s much harder to say no to those garlic fries, piece of cake, or late night bowl of cereal. If you’re home, put a sticky note on the refrigerator as a reminder to keep it shut. You can also make sure all your healthy snacks like fruit, veggies, and lean protein are the first thing you see when you open your fridge. This way, if you’re actually feeling hungry, you reach for the good stuff! It can be a little harder if you’re out for drinks or at a party. Enjoy a little nibble of something if it looks worth it. But then, throw in a stick of gum or have some sparkling water with lemon to cut the temptation to eat more.
- Drink up! Yes, you heard that right. I want you to have a glass in hand the whole night. Don’t get too excited, I’m referring to water! For every alcoholic drink you have, aim to have one to two glasses of water in between. No, it will not diminish the effects of the alcohol (this is a college myth used to get you in big trouble!). Instead, it will keep you hydrated avoiding a major hangover the next day. If people give you a hard time about it, ask for sparkling water with lemon or lime in it. It will look like a fun cocktail, keep their mouths shut, and your goals on track!
- Make friends with B-vitamins. Sometimes it’s the day after drinking that can really disrupt our progress. If you’re hungover you are more likely to skip the gym and make unhealthy food decisions. B-vitamins, specificially B-12, B-6, and B-1 (also know as Thaimine) are key players in alcohol metabolism. Drinking lowers your B-vitamin levels, making it harder for your body to process the alcohol after the first drink. Take a B-vitamin supplement before you drink and before you go to bed to reduce hangover side effects the next day.
- When and what you eat is key. If you’ve signed up for the free Summer Shape Up Series and downloaded your Starter Booklet, you know the importance of proper macro nutrient timing and ratios. Alcohol is actually a macro nutrient of its own! Each gram of alcohol contains 7 calories. It is possible to be in a caloric deficit and drink alcohol. Obviously, it’s one of the unhealthiest things you could do! For one, alcohol contains empty calories filled with zero nutrients to keep your body working properly. Even worse, alcohol can affect your body’s ability to absorb nutrients (not to mention the obvious damage it does to your liver). To make matters worse, it also lowers your body’s fat oxidation. This means your body becomes less efficient at using food as fuel and instead stores it as fat. The best way to avoid excess fat storage is to eat a balanced meal concentrating on lean proteins, green veggies, and less complex carbohydrates before you consume alcohol. It’s also important to stick to lean protein and green veggies only after you’ve been drinking if you get hungry again. Do not try and eat as little as possible throughout the day to “save up” for your inner party animal. There are only a few possible outcomes of doing this and none are pleasant. Eat regularly throughout the day concentrating on micro nutrient rich food like green veggies, lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and fruit.
- Pack your gym bag or sign up for a class the next morning. Having a couple drinks can seem harmless until your alarm goes off the next morning. Cue snooze 1, snooze 2, just one more… An hour later and you’ve missed your morning workout. A cup of Joe and a couple Advil can temporarily cure your sleep deprivation and headache. You make a promise to yourself that the gym will happen later. Evening hits, that coffee is gone, and the lethargy from a long day is in full effect. Now, missing one workout for a special occasion the night before will do zero damage. We deserve to have fun and enjoy life! However, if you didn’t plan for the outing and you have a tendency to say yes to alcohol when you say you won’t, your “rest days” may become more and more frequent. As you lose steam from staying out later and drinking more frequently, the pattern can become habit.
- Not all mixers are created equal! Alcohol is calorie dense as it is. However, it’s usually pretty low in carbs and contains zero fat. A 12-ounce glass of beer has about 150 calories, a 5-ounce glass of red wine has about 125 calories, and a 1.5 ounce shot of gin, rum, vodka, whiskey or tequila has about 100 calories. Not too bad, right? But, if you’re one to order a sweet or creamy drink, it can wreck havoc on your waistline. A Long Island Iced Tea or a Margarita can have over 750 calories, a Pina Colada or a Mai Thai can have over 600 calories, a Grasshopper Martini can have over 500 calories, a White Russian can have over 400 calories! I always order wine, champagne, or clear hard liquor, Patron is my favorite mixed with soda water and a squirt of lime juice 🙂 . Soda water is calorie free AND it helps minimize dehydration. You can find two of my favorite low sugar, low calorie drinks in the Summer Shape Up Series Starter Booklet. Download it for FREE by signing up here!
What are your best tips for having a fun night out while staying on track? Do you tend to drink multiple times per week or save it for special occasions like me? Let me know in the comment box below!
Health and happiness,