Alcohol.

Do you have a goal of weekly exercise routine with eating healthy?

Have you noticed there are many obstacles in the way?

The key to obtaining a healthy lifestyle is to find a way to navigate the obstacles that come along.

One of those aspects of our lifestyle that can be an obstacle to goal attainment is drinking alcohol, and the chain of events that can sometimes occur when drinking alcohol.  That chain of events may look like this:  you go out with the intention to only drink 1-2 alcoholic beverages.  But that can lead to mindlessly over consuming and having additional drinks as you socialize.  Then you get hungry, and end up making less than healthy choices.  (Nachos!)  Some people drink alcohol to be social, to have fun, let loose, or to deal with increased anxiety in social settings.  And our goals quickly float out of view.

So what is the impact of drinking alcohol on our goals of body composition changes and exercise? Alcohol tends to be a source of empty calories, and like we explored in the chain of events in the previous paragraph, people don’t always stop at drinking 1-2 alcoholic beverages. This can lead to consuming excess calories. Consuming excessive calories in any form – food or alcohol – leads the body to storing extra fat and gaining weight, often in terms of excess belly fat, or the dreaded “beer belly.”

What about alcohol and its impact on exercise? A study from Barnes, Mündel, and Stannard (2010) suggests that a moderate dose of alcohol may impair normal muscle recovery after very strenuous exercise. If exercise and performance are goals for you, drinking alcohol in excess could contribute to injury and impact your attainment.

Here are some ideas for healthier alternatives:

Behaviors:

  1. Go into a social event with a plan. If you know that you have to get up early the next day, or have an exercise planned, reminding yourself of your goals may impact your decision to drink in excess.

  2. If you know that you are going to drink alcohol, similar to the idea of taking time to really enjoy and savor the taste of your food, pick an alcoholic beverage that you truly like. Pick 1 drink, and sip it slowly, being mindful of the taste and flavor, and pay attention to the social setting that you are in, enjoying the environment you are in, and people you are with.

  3. Make it a goal to have 1 glass of water for every alcoholic beverage consumed.

If you know that you will be drinking, here’s some healthier alternatives:

  1. Vodka seltzer with lemon or lime
  2. Bloody Mary
  3. One glass of red wine
  4. Scotch on the rocks

Lastly, here’s some non-alcohol containing beverage ideas:

  1. Virgin Bloody Mary – just omit the vodka
  2. Instead of a Margarita, try sugar free lemonade with a salt rim and a wedge of lime.
  3. A dressed up tonic water – go wild and add sliced cucumber.
  4. Flavored sparkling water- spice it up with added fruit, herbs, or a little fruit juice.

Committed to your success,

Jess

Reference List

Barnes, M.J., Mündel, T. & Stannard, S.R. (2009). Post-exercise alcohol ingestion exacerbates eccentric-exercise induced losses in performance. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 108(5):1009-14.