It's Friday night, all of my friends are going out to the bars to celebrate the weekend, but I've been on a real health kick the last couple weeks and don't want to sabotage all of my hard work... Not to mention I don't really miss those next day hangovers. I could go and just not drink, but its so much more fun to have a few drinks. I could go and have one drink, but lets face it if I start drinking its not going to be just one. Should I just not go out?
Does that sound familiar? Of course it does.
Realistically, alcohol is only going to get you further away from your health and fitness goals (Yes, even a glass of red wine). It's basically empty calories, it decreases the body's capacity for nutrient absorption, and is extremely taxing on the liver. Having said that, I'm going to go out and have a few drinks tonight.
The most important part of any health and fitness plan is sustainability. It's better to occasionally indulge in some not so healthy habits from time to time than to go 100 MPH for a week and then just burn out and revert to your old ways shortly after. For many people, giving up alcohol completely is just not a realistic or necessary long term solution. If you do choose to have a few (or more than a few) drinks every once in a while, it's important to know how to do it in the least damaging way possible.
Below are a few rules I like to follow to minimize weight gain, the next day hangover, and other unwanted effects when drinking alcohol:
1. In the day leading up to your night out, eat a lot of lean proteins, healthy fats, and vegetables. You are going to be drinking empty calories at night, so make your calories during the day as nutritious as possible.
2. Drink as much water as possible during the day. Alcohol severely dehydrated you, so you need to make sure you are hydrated beforehand. I aim for at least 15 glasses.
3. Eat a nutritious meal and take a multivitamin as close to when you start drinking as possible. You don't want to drink on an empty stomach, as you are more likely to get sick, and if you don't get sick you are definitely more likely to end up at the pizza place at the end of the night. You will also be flushing out a lot of the nutrients in your body when drinking, so the multivitamin will help fill some of those nutritional gaps.
4. Find a spirit that you like (or hate the least), and stick to that without a chaser. Thats not easy to do, but spirits have less calories per gram than beer or wine, and don't have any carbs. Also, the calories in chasers can often end up being more than the calories in the alcohol itself. However, if you really prefer wine or beer, go for it. Just try to limit your consumption. After all, no alcohol is healthy, so when you are treating yourself, go with the one that is the most worth it to you.
5. Moderation. Enjoy yourself, but still try to be mindful of how much you are drinking. One drink will cause less harm than two. Two drinks will cause less harm than three.
6. Drink two glasses of water in between each drink. You will thank me for that one in the morning.
7. Don't binge eat at the end of the night, and if you do-- make it something nutritious, from real, whole foods. No pizza or greasy diner food.
8. Once you are ready to go to bed, drink two more glasses of water. One of the main reasons for a hangover is dehydration.
9. When you wake up in the morning, drink water, take a multivitamin, and eat something nutritious to replenish your body of everything it lost the night before. Try this recipe below.
1 scoop Protein-Superfood
1/2 cup kale
1/2 cup spinach
2 stalks celery
1/2 large lemon
2 large green apples
1/2 cup diced pineapple
1/2 inch piece of ginger
1 1/2 cups coconut water