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Can you drink alcohol and still achieve your fitness goals?


Whether you’re trying to increase your muscle mass, burn fat or simply be healthier, improving your fitness takes time, hard work and dedication.


Summer is here at last, and so are the parties. It's time to relax, be social and enjoy friends and family. No one wants to give up their social life; and most of the time gatherings mean drinking alcohol. If you’re drinking every day of the week, you’ll struggle to reach your fitness goals. And of course, once you’ve had a few drinks you’re more likely to crave high calorie foods and less likely to want to workout the next day.


Alcohol is often referred to as “empty calories”, it provides seven calories per gram (compared to protein and carbs at four calories per gram and fat at nine) and has no other nutritional value. So just like with food, it's important to be mindful of how much you're consuming. We live in a world where most social engagements revolve around booze. Cutting alcohol completely won't ultimately be successful. It's about finding out what works best for you. whe goal setting, it's important to be realistic with yourself about whether to keep drinking, cut back or stop altogether.


If you don't drink, there is no reason to start. The best option is to be alcohol-free. After all, alcohol is mostly bad for you, and any amount can have side effects.


How much your summer drinking counteracts your fitness goals will depend on how much you drink and the fitness goals you set for yourself. If you want to get up at 5 am for bootcamp, it might mean saying no to drinks late- night. If you're training for a marathon, for instance, drinking often won't work with your training plan. If you're simply trying to maintain your fitness, enjoying summer, happy hours may suit you fine.



It is possible to enjoy alcohol and still achieve your fitness goals


Binging on the weekend may not short circuit a whole week of regular exercise and healthy food choices, but it could certainly slow your progress with both weight and fitness goals. We periodize training, periodize nutrition and, you probably want to periodize when you're going to include alcohol.

If you're trying to lose weight, It has to be done slowly. The most effective way to do that is through a lifestyle change that makes room for the occasional glass or two of wine and beer, and an attitude that fights being discouraged and derailing everything if you mess up now and again.


The key is listening to your "body. If what you're doing isn't working, reevaluate what you want and make adjustments such as:


Drink water in between your alcoholic drinks

It’s a classic piece of advice for good reason: Drinking water between alcoholic drinks helps slow down the rate at which you finish your drink and ensures you are less likely to lose control. It also helps with the hangover.


Be mindful of how much you are having.

For some of us, if you’re drinking, you’re drinking a lot. However, it’s important to realise that something is not going to taste any better by having more of it. Yes, some drinks are lower in calories than others, but that doesn’t mean you can’t drink what you really want to. Treat yourself to something you can enjoy regardless of calories. If you’re really craving an Aperol spritz, piña colada, or prosecco, don’t force yourself to have a vodka soda if you find them a bit joyless. Go for quality over quantity; swap out that cheap glass of chardonnay for something higher end. It’s better to have one glass of something you really like so you feel satisfied, and it’s easier to then go back to your diet the next day. It’s just a case of drinking mindfully.


Keep up your workouts as best you can.

Although it can be tempting to skip the gym when you’re a bit hungover, it’s important to keep your energy expenditure up if you’re trying to burn fat. You might find you feel better and crave healthy foods afterward too.


Prepare for the late-night munchies

Telling yourself you'll stop eating after nights on the booze is simply unrealistic if you're always hungry when you get home at midnight. But if you have a healthy meal or snack prepared for when you come home after drinking you’ll be less likely to grab a kebab, cheesy chips or chicken nuggets on the way home - and you’ll feel miles better the next day.


Learn to socialise sober.

It sounds hard, but it’s entirely possible to go out with your mates or colleagues when they’re all boozing, stick to ice tea, sparkling water with lime, zero sugar drinks and have a good time.

Going out and not drinking is a skill but definitely worth trying. You’ll be amazed at how much fun you can have and how great you will feel the next day!




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Auckland, New Zealand
raphael@fitsquad.co.nz

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