It’s the most wonderful time of the year…That is, unless you’re trying to get into shape.
Despite all of the holiday treats laying out at every party, sweets are not the number one culprit. No, the biggest detriment to our fitness goals during the holiday season is the good ol’ holiday cheer: Alcohol.
You don’t want your choice to maintain your fitness and health to interfere with your ability to have a great social life.
The trick is how to enjoy the holidays without blowing everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve.
Here are some tips that will help you. But first, get a better understanding of alcohol and how it affects your body.
Why Alcohol Can Make Maintaining Your Fitness Difficult
There are a few reasons why alcoholic beverages can make maintaining your health and fitness during the holiday season a little extra tricky.
1. Contains high calories
Alcoholic beverages tend to contain a lot of calories.
A light beer has 100 calories and a regular one around 150 or more. And it just goes up from there. Way up.
Plus, it metabolizes quickly like a simple carbohydrate (95 percent being absorbed within one hour).
The fact that most drinks are nearly all carbs (even before the alcohol is accounted for) means that if you’ve had a few drinks, it’s going to be very hard to maintain a balanced diet without eating a lot of excess calories.
2. Increases hunger
If that weren’t enough, alcohol speeds up your digestion, causing you to get hungry quicker.
Plus, it lowers inhibitions and desensitizes the stomach so that you tend to eat more than you normally would.
Does “I’ll take another slice” sound familiar?
3. Decreases nutrient availability
Let’s compound this some more; alcohol also reduces the body’s ability to convert food to energy, which can reduce blood sugar levels.
Even small amounts rob the body of B-vitamins and minerals that are essential for converting food into energy.
When you drink, especially to excess, you’re burning the candle at both ends. So not surprisingly, alcohol…
4. Decreases athletic performance
So working the party off is compromised also because it decreases your body’s ability to perform.
Alcohol is a diuretic, which can lead to dehydration and cause the body’s cooling system to malfunction.
This lowers your electrolyte levels, which effects judgment and coordination.
And even though alcohol metabolizes quickly like a simple carb, it cannot be stored and used as energy, so you get a double-whammy where you are taking in a lot of calories that cannot even be used to help burn them off.
Talk about the ultimate junk food!
Tips to Still Enjoy Your Holiday Cheer
With all that being said, if you plan on treating yourself to a couple drinks over the holidays, there are ways to mindfully indulge.
Follow these rules and you will not only do little harm to your program, but also be far less likely to wake up with a hangover.
1. Eat before you drink
Eating a high-protein and somewhat high-fat meal beforehand will slow the alcohol from entering your bloodstream.
Plus, if you’re full you are more likely to drink less. (If you’re lucky.)
2. Drink before you drink
Don’t drink alcohol to quench thirst. It’s very easy to quaff a couple of beers just to wet your whistle; especially if you just got off of work.
On party days, be more conscious about drinking a lot of water throughout the day and drink one full glass before heading off to the soiree.
3. Don’t mix drinks with soda pop
Sugar causes the alcohol to be absorbed even quicker, plus the carbonation decreases your body’s phosphorus levels.
The result is that you’ll get drunk quicker and have a worse hangover. Sweat 2 is a real bear under these circumstances!
4. Mix drinks with water
And even better, have a glass of water between each drink. This will offset the dehydrating effect of the alcohol. You’ll drink less and feel better the next day.
5. Have coconut water available
Coconut water is full of electrolytes, which will greatly help with recovery.
Care in doing this post drinking (or even better, while drinking) will far offset the fashion faux pas of walking around a party with a water bottle.
6. Drink responsibly
And, of course, never drive after drinking. Even one drink impairs your ability to function.