Minimising the effects of drinking this festive season
It would be completely misguided to say, don’t drink any alcohol this festive season. Why give people advice that is just not realistic and is not going to be followed anyway? Over the years, we’ve come to the conclusion that the negative effects of MODERATE drinking have been overstated in the fitness and nutrition world and advice to never drink would be hypocritical and unnecessary, because it IS possible to stay lean and still enjoy a drink.
The issue with alcohol is not so much the alcohol itself, as much as the effect it has on how your body processes the other calories you consume. Alcohol affects the liver in such a way that causes other calories consumed to be more easily stored as fat. This, coupled with the fact that we tend to make poor food choices when drinking, is what causes the majority of the weight gain associated with drinking. So, what can you do if you want to drink and still be a fat loss machine?
Here are some Golden Rules of Drinking:
1. On the day you are going to drink, consume as little fat and carbohydrates as possible. Go full-on low carb with things like chicken and green veg or tuna salads. Starchy carbs should be kept as close as possible to zero.
2. Alternate alcoholic drinks with sparkling water. The bubbles slow you down more than still water would.
3. Don’t make stupid food choices the next day. You can start with a half day fast till lunch and then go right back to eating healthily.
4. Stick to low sugar drinks such as dry white wines or spirits. If you’re having mixers make sure they are sugar free. I’ll probably get kicked out of the trainer club for advocating “aspartame laden diet drinks”, but in this specific circumstance I’d rather advise a bit of sweetener than sugar.
5. Don’t take this as carte blanche to drink as much as you like. No matter which way you look at it, 8 hour drinking binges aren’t healthy.
6. Try and keep drinking to once a week.
7. Enjoy yourself, guilt free. We have absolutely no evidence to back this up, but we feel that stressing about a particular, non-ideal food/drink choice actually increases the negative effects. So if you’re going to have a couple of drinks, or a cheat meal which we’ll talk about next week, do it and don’t feel guilty or stress about it. Remember, there’s more to health than just nutrition, and there’s more to life than just health.
If you stick to these rules you can quite easily stay lean without cutting alcohol out completely. And if you take nothing else from this, do not take drinking as a signal to eat sugary, carb- heavy meals or stodgy rubbish. When your liver is processing alcohol, all the other things you eat have pretty much nowhere else to go but to your hips.