Wednesday night client drinks. Thursday night charity event. Friday night birthday party. Saturday brunch. Saturday evening dinner date. Sunday brunch round 2. Sunday night wine and dine with girlfriends. You love your social life but you hate what it’s doing to your health. Body and mind BURN out is next on the calendar if you don’t do something about it….
Too many late nights out and “adult drinks” can have harsh effects on your body (not to mention your mental health). While drinking alcohol and going out can fit into a healthy lifestyle, there’s one reality we just can’t change: alcoholic drinks are just another source of extra, empty calories and staying up late does not help you get your beauty sleep. Here are a few of the ways alcohol can get in the way of your health goals if you are a party animal:
How Drinking Affects Your Health and Fitness Goals:
1. Slower Recovery from Workouts and Long Work Days
Hard workouts or challenging work days drain the glycogen stores (carbs stored in the liver and muscles) and leave your muscle tissue in need of repair. “Pouring alcohol into your system stalls the recovery process,” says Tavis Piattoly, R.D. High levels of alcohol displace the carbs, leaving you without quality nutrition to help you recover from hard workouts or work days.
2. Packed-On Fat
Theres one thing you can’t change: alcohol is an empty source of calories. When booze is on board, your body, besides having to deal with the surplus of calories, prioritizes metabolizing the alcohol over burning fat and carbs. Alcohol also breaks down amino acids and stores them as fat. For some reason this process tends to be most pronounced in the thighs, stomach, glutes. Excessive alcohol consumption really packs on poundage to those areas, hence the reason we have the phrase “beer belly”. It also increases levels of cortisol (a stress hormone), which further encourages fat storage, particularly in your midsection.
3. Disrupted Sleep
Drinking and late nights also affect your muscle recovery and performance by sapping your sleep. In a study of 93 men and women, researchers found that alcohol decreased sleep duration and increased wakefulness (particularly in the second half of the night), especially in women, whose sleep time was decreased by more than 30 minutes over the night.
4. Depleted Water and Nutrients
Alcohol irritates the stomach lining, which can reduce your capacity to absorb nutrients (the reason you have an upset stomach after a few too many), says Brian R. Christie, Ph.D. Not to mention that alcohol makes you pee. For every gram of ethanol you suck down, you pump out 10 milliliters of urine (that’s about 9.5 ounces for two beers). As little as 2 percent dehydration hurts your performance (and gives you a major headache). And no you can’t rehydrate with a dehydrating drink (e.g., beer), water is the only thing that can help you hydrate yourself back to health.
These are just a few of the ways drinking or staying out can affect your health goals. Heres the thing though: You don’t have to give up drinking or going out to live a healthy life, you just have to learn to do it SMARTER. Moderation is the KEY here! There are ways you can maintain your shape and health, even if you drink alcohol or go out. I believe in a life of balance, fun, and nights out dancing with friends. Here are top tips for enjoying your favorite drink, a night out, and honoring your fitness goals the next morning:
Socialize SMART. Enjoy a night out and honor your health goals with my tips on BALANCE.
- Pick a few days a week when you will avoid alcohol, and stick to it.
Many people find it easiest to just say no drinking Monday-Thursday. Think about your life and your routine, and come up with at least 3 days of the week when you won’t drink.
- Drink in moderation. Duh, I know. But the truth is: it’s not possible to drink everyday, or binge drink on weekends, and still be healthy. That type of drinking makes you less likely to exercise, less likely to eat healthy, and more likely to cause harm to your body (higher risk of some cancers, liver disease, metabolic problems, accidents, etc). Plus, most of us don’t need the calories. Think of alcohol as junk food – it’s fine to indulge, just not in excess.
- When you do drink, plan ahead to account for the calories. This could mean eating extra healthy, avoiding sweets or processed foods, or scheduling in an extra hard workout on the day you’re going to drink. Think of each drink as about 150 non-nutritious calories you’ll have to cut out elsewhere. By the way, one drink = 5 oz wine (but a typical restaurant pour is 6-7 oz), 12 oz beer (but a typical draught beer is a pint, or 16 oz), or 1.5 oz liquor. Not sure about the calorie counts on your favorite drinks? Read my Conscious Cocktail Calories Blog or check out Get Drunk Not Fat (funny name!) for calorie counts on every drink possible.
- Decide on a set number of drinks BEFORE you go out that you will use as a limit. If not you’ll make that same mistake over and over of having a few too many. Tell yourself: “ok ill have 2-3 drinks throughout the whole night and I’m good!”
- Always be sure to get a real meal before you enjoy your favorite cocktails. With a healthy diet its important to eat balanced regular meals to keep your blood sugar stable and your metabolism running full speed. Eating regular meals will make you less likely to eat bar food when you are out late at night. Which leads us to…
- Watch what you eat while you drink. It’s easy to let the munchies get control of you during or after you drink. And can you recall a time when you started drinking and all-of-the-sudden craved a salad? Me neither. Snacks while drinking tend to be high-calorie, as do meals people eat when they’re hungover. Drinking also lowers your inhibitions, so you’re much more likely to overdo it on nachos & wings when you’ve had a few.
- Alternate. Drink WATER between cocktails to stay hydrated and avoid a hangover in the morning. Keep a 1:1 ratio of water and drinks.
- Choose spritzers and lighter drink choices. Spritzers are made with soda water and cut wine calories in half. My favorite light cocktail is a tequilla soda with a splash of lime.
- Don’t think that because its “low-carb” or “light” you can drink more of it. As is true with food, if you pick the “diet” versions of drinks, it can play tricks with your mind and cause you to think you can have more of it. FAIL. Just cause it’s “light” doesn’t mean you can have twice the amount.
- Quality vs. Quantity. Sometimes its better just to order the REAL thing. Order a glass of something top shelf you’ll enjoy (red wine if you love it!). Youll make it last longer and actually savor it.
- When you indulge – Enjoy yourself, without guilt or worry.
In many cultures, people enjoy a daily (small) drink and are able to maintain good health and a reasonable weight. So be like the French, Italians or Greeks: just sit back, have a little something, and enjoy.
- Always have a designated driver or another form of transportation. You do not want to risk hurting someone else, yourself or a friend.
- Have a friend to go out with. Dance together, keep each other in check, and make sure you are having the best day/night ever. You can both keep each other in accountable and help from blowing all your hard work by drinking your body weight in cocktails.
- Never lose track of your drink by putting it down at a party, gathering or bar.
- You can drink plain water!! If you are not in the mood or have an early morning, order soda water with lime and enjoy yourself with friends.
- Dancing?? Great! Dance with water. This way there are no drink spills and its like you are working out with friends.
- Workout the next day. Its so helpful to maintain a regular workout routine, no matter how late you were out socializing. Exercise is the BEST energy booster and headache helper. A workout will help fight fatigue and heal the foggy morning brain from a late night out.
- Look at your schedule and plan ahead. Balance nights out within your week to avoid every night being a late one or one that you drink. If you know you have an event thursday and a birthday party saturday, schedule down time on friday and wednesday to chill, relax, and do some yoga 🙂
- Keep it CLASSY. Be a breath of fresh air to others. Sloppy, blackout-mess, is NOT fun, attractive, or enjoyable to be around.
- Develop non-drinking means of relaxation. Don’t just drink to drink. Many adults get in the habit of having a drink after work, to relax and take a load off. Often many people also build the habit of ordering multiple cocktails when they go out (pre-party, party, after-party…. it all adds up!). If your habits involve drinking to relax or socialize regularly, it’ll pack on the pounds (and be habit-forming, not a good idea when it comes to alcohol). Build awareness into your habits when it comes to alcohol. If you need it to relax, think about other activities that are relaxing and enjoyable to you – working out, taking a walk outside, listening to music, reading, etc – and schedule those into your life as a means of unwinding instead of opening a bottle of wine every night. If you “need it” to feel more comfortable when you are out socializing, strengthen your socializing skills by NOT using alcohol to make you more comfortable! Breaking any habit is hard, especially when it comes to booze. But just like anything, the more you practice it the easier it gets. And Id rather practice ENJOYING the quality of my life vs. practice getting drunk through it, wouldn’t you?
Going out and socializing should be about the people – NOT about the alcohol. I believe if you follow these tips you’ll create positive experiences that you will love remembering the next morning. Balance is beautiful. Going out and enjoying time with your friends will NOT distract from your health goals, I believe it will help you thrive more. Work hard so you can play hard. Party smart, keep it classy, and enjoy your life in a healthy, happy way. Always enjoy life, it’s happening!!
Is going out or having a cocktail part of your lifestyle? How do you balance it with your health and fitness goals?
Cheers to you and your health,
Other Things to Check Out This Week:
- Healthy, Happy Memorial Day. A playlist, recipes, and my tips for a healthy holiday!
- NEW! 10 minute hip and ab workout video routine.
- Health is not a number. Why the scale lies.
- Caroline’s Anytime, Anywhere, Total Body Exercises