Monday, June 14, 2010

Healthy Boozin'? B's Guide to Healthy Drinking

I hope ya'll had a rockin' weekend! I had a punk rock-caliber weekend--literally. On Saturday night, my friend, Julie, had a "punk rock" themed birthday party, which brought back a lot of memories of my "high school misfit" days (I was an emo girl in HS and dated my share of punk rockers). I had a great time and it was nice to let loose and go dancing (outside of the group fitness studio).

(So punk rawwwwwwk, right?)
(Gotta love the handcuff necklace I got from a 50 cent machine!)
(Every punk rocker needs a tattoo! I got this one out of a machine--but wouldn't it be sweet to have a REAL glitter dragon one!)
(Yes he does--A 50 cent Twilight tattoo)

Unfortunately, with the pretend punk rock life came a massive punk rock hangover on Sunday morning. When I woke up, I felt like I has slept in a gutter and had been kicked in the head repeatedly all night. Ouchies.

Hangovers are NOT anyone's favorite activity. The headache, nausea, sensitivity to light and noise, lethargy, dysphoria, diarrhea and thirst are miserable withdrawal effects (PDF) the body experiences as it becomes dehydrated and tries to deal with the absence of a drug in its system.

(Hangovers suck--especially if you wake up to discover your BFF and groom-to-be is missing among other things! lol.

I'm admitting to this debauchery with great shame, because I know as fitness professionals, we are held to a higher standard--as role models almost. But even group fitness instructors cut loose once in awhile. What was weird is that this was my horoscope Sunday morning (for Capricorn):

Even if you are feeling quite healthy now, this is still an excellent time to consider changes to your diet and exercise program and make whatever adjustments are desirable. This doesn't mean that you are doing anything wrong in particular, yet there is always room for improvement. Pick an area of your life and set a goal that can have an enduring positive impact.

(The weekend poison of choice--Vodka Lemonade. Ew, this photo makes me want to hurl even now)

Interesting...because at that moment I did NOT feel "quite healthy." But, I DID start to think about my actions and decided to write this post about alcohol and how it relates to your fitness plans.

Don't get me wrong, I don't drink every night, or every week for that matter. And I don't support alcohol consumption regularly, but if you enjoy it, like everything else, moderation is key. My fitness goal is drink more in moderation and avoid the binge-drinking altogether(even on occasion). I'm currently thinking of becoming a personal trainer. How can I convince people to change their behaviors and attitudes if I don't do the same? That would make me a hypocrite.

When I taught group fitness to college girls, I got asked about this a lot--"What alcohol has the least calories?" "What should I drink when I go out?" "Does alcohol fit in my diet?". Alcohol has a lot of calories, but if you careful about the quantity consumed over a period of time and what you drink, then there is no good reason not to have a drink when you desire.

So, here's the rundown...

There is no doubt that alcohol is loaded with calories and can have a number of negative long term effects on the body. However, there is a silver lining. Moderate drinking has been shown in repeated studies to decrease the risk of heart disease, keep OFF excessive weight gain for women, and some alcohols contain good-for-you antioxidants.

Mark's Daily Apple has a good breakdown of each type. More thorough than I could break it down!

The bottom line is that if you have to choose your poison--go with red wine, which is loaded with powerful anti-aging anti-oxidants and polyphenols or whiskey, which contains zero carbs and ellagic acid (a free-radical fighter).

For peeps hitting the bar or club scene, to avoid the hangovers (and high $$$$) of dark liquor and wine, I suggest sticking to clear liquors (Vodka and Rum), which contain no carbs (but also no nutritional value) and are typically cheaper. My drink of choice: Rum and Diet (only 110 calories compared to Rum and REAL coke at 240 calories!)

The hands-down WORST drinks you could choose are sweet mixed drinks (think sugar rush = calorie rush), jello-shots (100% SUGAR and 0% substance), cordials (Again, sugar and flavor, no benefits), and drinks containing high-cal mixers, like real soda, tonic, or energy drinks (which have been linked to riskier behavior when combined with booze). If you still want your sugar and to drink it too, then check out this article by TravelLady Magazine, which offers some calorie-cutting alternatives for mixed drinks.

(Can you believe this bottle of vodka and can of redbull are made from 100% sugar--really, these are edible sculptures!)

Something we tend to forget when drinking: It takes up to 15-20 minutes for alcohol to build up in the blood stream. If you drink quickly, you can quickly underestimate your tolerance (and calorie limits).

Some tips/guidelines for considering a safe alcohol quantity:

--Set a limit on how many drinks you are going to have when you drink, and stick to it. This limit can be calories or number of drinks.

--Use alcohol cautiously in connection with any medication or other drugs. Example: Antihistamines and alcohol can induce excessive sedation, so it would be best to avoid this combination.

--PACE YOURSELF and drink slowly - if you sip a drink and do not have more than one drink per hour, the alcohol will not have a chance to build up in your bloodstream. This is due to the natural metabolic functioning of the liver.

--Eat before you drink. I can't stress this enough! You are not "making up for the calories" by not eating and you are actually putting yourself at risk for black-out, alcohol poisoning, and hangovers. Eating high-protein foods like cheeses and meats, will slow down the absorption rate so that the alcohol will not hit your system all at once.

--Drinking carbonated beverages with alcohol or carbonated alcohol preparations increases the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream, while diluting alcohol with water slows absorption.

--If you are going to consume a large amount of alcohol, drink a glass of water in between drinks. This will help with dehydration and aid the kidneys.

--Don't have a "drink off" with your buddy of the opposite sex. The male body is made up of 66 per cent fluid, compared to 55 per cent for women. This means alcohol is more diluted in a man's body than a woman's. As a result, women tend to get drunk faster than men on the same amount of alcohol.

--KNOW your personal limit and don't let others pressure you to drink more than that!

A really great tip for remembering not to binge or exceed your calorie or drinking limit is to write it on your hand. I'm serious--write a number or reminder on your hand before you go out drinking like:


--4 MAX



It sounds silly, but I find that writing things on my hand not only reminds me stick to something, but is also a great conversation piece!

Of course, if you are going anywhere after/while consuming alcohol, always call a cab. Luckily, my town is a college town, so there are an abundance of cab services and "drunk buses" to call that are affordable alternatives to a DUI. :)

So, there you have it, from a group fitness instructor to you--you CAN drink on your fitness plan, you just have to be THOUGHTFUL about it.

And if you're ever faced with the dilemma to drink or not, just ask yourself, if it came down to it, would you rather indulge in the calories from a few drinks or a slice of chocolate chip pie (which I made this weekend!)? Me, I'd take the pie every freakin' time.

Do you have any tips for healthy drinking? Hangovers? Leave a comment!

No comments:

Post a Comment