and get in shape, and loose fat, and be healthy, and stay active, and get toned.. really any type of body re-composition or fitness goal
Firstly, why is it difficult to fit alcohol into your lifestyle? As a brief overview, alcohol is what is referred to as “empty calories” due to the fact that it provides seven calories per gram ( protein and carbs at four calories per gram and fat at nine). It has zero nutritional value and a negative effect on hormone and blood sugar levels. Multiple studies have also explored the effects on alcohol on physical activity and eating behavior changes which contribute towards hindering fat loss or body composition goals. I.e if you're hungover are you really going to the gym?
Can you have the best of both worlds? Yes! A healthy lifestyle is one that includes a little bit of everything that makes you happy, whilst being fit and healthy enough to enjoy it! Because, in order to achieve anything, you have to be consistent, and in order to stay consistent your going to have to find it enjoyable (or manageable!)
No ones drinking it thinking that it is contributing to their health and fitness, but cutting out alcohol is not a reasonable solution for many people. It may be possible for periods of time, but ultimately you’ll need to learn how to fit it into your lifestyle so you can still make progress.
So, here are my five strategies for enjoying alcohol whilst working towards any sort of body composition or fitness goal:
1. Drink choice is key
Alcohol is calorific enough - swap full fat mixers like coke and tonic water for diet versions. Try out lower calorie beer options for the occasional swap - you don’t always need to drink low cal options but they could be useful on some occasions.
Avoid cocktails - but if you love them, aim for ones with fewer spirits, soda water based rather than sugary mixes. A Long island iced tea = can have anywhere between 500-700 calories!
2. Minimize volumes
Why is it we can drink glass after glass of alcohol but not water... when you are drinking try matching your consumption of both drinks. This will help you to drink less volume but also more water - a win win situation. Also, slow down and enjoy it - try to make it go further.
This one is a bit of a double edged sword… you’ll want to prepare in terms of saving some extra room for those calories (imperative if you are trying to lose weight and working in a calorie deficit) but also having a decent amount of food in you so you aren't hungry which is likely going to make you snack loads or make up for it at some point in the night.
My approach to this would be to have fewer calories in the day, to allow for these to be made up with the drinks but time it so that you have a sufficient meal not near the time you are drinking.
An extra tip here would to also have something at home ready for when you get in that you know you can have if you are hungry - a MacDonald's at 2 am could be the nail in the head for all lost progress.
4. Limit frequency
Try and limit the frequency to a few times per week. This way you’ll have plenty of days in the week where you are completely fresh to stay on track with training and allow your body to fire properly. Even if you limit overall frequency, if you are having one drink everyday you are disadvantaging yourself with training the day after and diminishing your bodies attempts to get rid of fat.
5. Bounce back
An obvious one and a boring one. But the next day - get moving, don’t be lazy, try to get back on track with the food habits and don’t let it effect even more of your time. If you have stuck to two days of drinking per week, but then take a day of to to get back on track you are suddenly down to only 3-4 days where you are actually on track per week. This isn't really consistent enough to make much progress.
Please note, these are just my suggestions. They may not work for you and your goals but they are easy enough to try out and see how they could work for you personally.
Please let me know if this was useful, any questions and as always like, share and comment.