As each working week draws to a close and in rolls the weekend a large percentage of us will head home to unwind, head out for dinner, or simply enjoy an alcoholic beverage of choice. Alternatively, as you hit your alarm button on a Monday morning you may be feeling a little sorry for yourself from having one too many wines with the girls on Friday night - because let’s face it, hangovers last more than 24 hours the older you get, right?
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. It is something that should be enjoyed in moderation, as there are some serious health effects associated with the consumption of alcohol. But how much does alcohol consumption really impact our health and fitness?
Alcohol consumption can play a large role in stopping us from reaching our health and fitness goals. Those looking to compete and elite athletes generally limit alcohol throughout competition prep and 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 or grand final that was followed by a night of celebrating? Sure you might've played a ripper game, but chances are your post match celebratory drinks didn't help in your recovery efforts.
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.
Here are my top tips that I give to clients and for those of you that do enjoy a beverage, but still want 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 following morning 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, make some exciting mocktails or get involved with Dry July when the time rolls around - a good excuse to stay on track! Everything in moderation.
Keep your goals in check this weekend – consistency is key x