Despite its feel-good effects in the moment of consumption, alcohol comes with well-documented negative effects. Diminished performance, mental impairment, liver issues and altered fat metabolism— reason we may think twice.
There are mixed associations between alcohol intake and body fat. Adding alcohol to one’s usual food intake can lead to fat gain if total calories are regularly in excess of daily needs. However, substituting alcohol for one’s usual food intake often leads to muscle loss and nutrient deficiencies. As alcohol impairs judgement, people who drink socially may find that they are more likely to engage in problematic eating behaviours while drinking. (A big plate of nachos or chicken wings seems like a great idea by the third beer!)
Have you ever asked yourself this question?
If we want to be healthy, fit, and functional, how does alcohol factor in?
The answer isn’t straightforward, but here are some tips to help you make better decisions when drinking alcohol to minimize the damage:
Drink In Moderation
Moderation, though hard to define, we’ll call it when you drink 1-3 drinks & may not completely throw you off, if approached properly. The key in these situations is to reduce your food intake by an amount matching the calorie content of the alcohol you are drinking. The best way to do this is to reduce your fat and carb intake, as you need the protein for satiety and the muscle sparing properties.
Skip the Mixers
Choosing the right drinks can also impact your metabolism. As a general rule of thumb, skip the mixers. Pre-made mixers may be yummy but are also often loaded with both real and artificial sweeteners and a lot of other stuff — with lots of calories. Make drinks lighter and more simply but choosing clear liquor/ spirits combined with lemon/lime, soda water and some real fruit.
Avoid the Munchies
Drunk munchies are also a tempting once a few drinks are in you – greasy, carb-heavy and/or fried foods. They’re so appealing at the time, but unfortunately, the food that we end up eating along with our cocktails can be the most detrimental part of the whole equation. Without really thinking, we can order food choices that are much higher in calories than we may have expected. The best way to prevent over-consuming calories in places we didn’t expect is to plan ahead what you’ll order, or prep food for when you get home. Saving you calories & cash!!
We can all end up a little hungrier when we drink. Make sure to fill up on veggies during the day and while drinking to help take up space in your stomach, slow down digestion and keep you feeling fuller for longer. Any veggies are fair game, but raw ones can typically take up more space and make you feel more full compared to cooked ones. Alternating each alcoholic drink with water can help the equation to keep you hydrated and prevent the dreaded hangover the next day.
Only you know what you are, or aren’t, willing to trade.
It may be a simple “yes” or “no”.
- Saying “yes” to six-pack abs might mean saying “no” to a few drinks at the bar.
- Saying “yes” to Friday happy hour might mean saying “no” to your Saturday morning workout.
- Saying “yes” to marathon training might mean saying “no” to boozy Sunday brunches.
- Saying “yes” to better sleep (and focus, and mood) might mean saying “no” to your daily wine with dinner.
- Saying “yes” to moderate alcohol consumption might mean finding a way to say “no” to stress triggers (or human triggers) that make you want to drink more.
Or it may be where you’re willing to move along the continuum.
- Maybe you’re willing to practice drinking more slowly and mindfully, but you’re not willing to decrease your total alcohol intake.
- Maybe you’re trying to lose weight, so you’d consider drinking a little less. Like 2 beers instead of 3, but not 0.
- Or, maybe you’re willing to stay sober during most social situations, but you’re not willing to endure your partner’s office party without a G&T on hand.
Being realistic with yourself about structure will set you up for success. That all or nothing mentality won’t help you here.
Struggling? We’re here to help!
Book a FREE virtual nutrition consultation >>HERE<< with one of our Registered Dietitians today and learn how you can make better choices surrounding alcohol!
PS – Don’t worry – they’re not the drink police! Our Dietitians will meet you where you’re at and help you make REALISTIC changes to fit your goals and lifestyle!