At 7 kCal/g, alcohol isn’t exactly a nutrient bargain. Having a drink or two with friends is usually fun and entertaining, but it is also the culprit behind the beer gut and the freshman 15. Just look at how big I got after a summer of drinking too much! (2004, pic to the right).
Questionable decisions are also made while under the influence. Somehow setting fireworks off out your dorm room window, curling up in a “cozy” snowbank for a nap, or attempting a back flip off a picnic table just aren’t as appealing when you are sober!
If you are overweight or looking to drop a few pounds, one of the first things you may want to consider is cutting back on your alcohol intake. If you still want to have a few with friends, here are some ideas to help with damage control:
1. Avoid sugary drinks. Sugar is not good for you (except post-workout recovery) so avoid adding insult to injury! Besides energy, sugar has little to offer your body. It is also the easiest source of fuel for your body to store as fat.
2. Try Vodka with water – the water helps keep you hydrated and 1 shot of vodka has 70Kcal. If you really don’t like the taste, try adding a lemon or lime wedge or some Crystal Light if you really must (I’m not a huge fan of artificial sweeteners). Light beer is readily available these days as well – just make sure that it is actually lower in calories because “light” can refer to the color of the beer, the taste, or the alcohol content. Labeling is actually quite deceptive at times!
3. Have a really intense workout before you go out. Your metabolism is revved up and can deal with extra calories much more readily after a workout so it will help prevent fat storage (no, this doesn’t give you permission to drink an entire keg!)
4. Sunday morning run-down. Ever wonder why the football team had to run sprints every Sunday morning? Again, intense exercise (like doing 50 sprints of the football field) increases your body’s metabolism so it gets rid of the alcohol more quickly than if you just bum around all day. Just beware that you might feel worse before you feel better with this one. Exercising outside or at home is the best option, or at least know where the garbage can is, just in case!
5. Pace yourself. Just because Boozin’ Susan has polished off her 3rd drink in the last hour doesn’t mean you have to keep up. Try alternating between alcoholic beverages and water throughout the night. You will drink less, stay more hydrated, and maybe even prevent a hangover the next day (which is caused by dehydration).
6. Hit the dance floor! Probably my favorite thing about going out is getting to bust a move with friends. I know some people don’t like to dance but for those who do, this is a great way to have fun and burn off some of those extra alcohol calories.
7. Skip the late night noshing. Seems like everyone hits the local hot spot after a night out but eating greasy pizza or swarma at 3am and then going to bed is not a particularly great idea. If you really must have a snack, try to wait until you get home and have a healthier option (which also saves you money). Drinking lots of water before you go to bed is also a really good idea.
Of course, there are lots of ways to have fun that don’t require drinking – I challenge you to find a few! Your social life shouldn’t come at the price of your health, and it really doesn’t have to 🙂 For those of you serious about your sport, remember that “Opportunity may come only once, but temptation leans on the doorbell.”