If your weight management game has been going strong the past few months, you may be a little concerned it might be in for a rollercoaster ride over the next couple of weeks. With Christmas parties and New Year events flocking your schedule, calorie-rich foods and alcohol will surely be making their presence felt. Now while many of us might already be well accustomed in handling food during this time of the year, it seems that alcohol remains somewhat of a blurred dilemma.
In this regard today I would first like to get a few facts straight after which I’ll share a few tips in order to make sure you own your alcohol relationship this festive season.
First and foremost, alcohol is in itself a macronutrient, just like proteins, carbohydrates and fats. With 7 calories per gram, alcohol is the second most calorie-dense macro (after fats which contain 9 calories per gram; protein and carbs carry 4 calories per gram.) Therefore, if you’re tracking daily calories, when drinking booze you have to also cater for this extra consumption of calories.
Secondly, the liver prioritizes the metabolism of alcohol over that of food since it considers booze to be toxic to the body. Thus if you combine eating with drinking alcohol, any food you eat will have to “wait in the queue” for it to be metabolized. If this is not done soon enough, the food will be stored as body fat together with the alcohol that isn’t burned. It is good to note that the moment alcohol is not metabolised quickly enough is the moment we start feeling tipsy. Thus, the more quickly and the more glasses you drink… you know the rest.
Also, since the liver is usually responsible for keeping our blood sugar levels stable, while it is busy metabolizing alcohol, our blood sugar will drop, automatically triggering carb/sugar cravings. Due to the fact that alcohol is burned relatively slowly, these cravings will generally last long, well into the following day.
Having read this far you’ve probably worked out how alcohol can be very damaging to our body goals. But for some of you, the festive season might not be the same without those few glasses. So here are 5 tips to help you minimise the damage if ditching alcohol completely is out of your equation:
1. Limit alcohol to a few select events
Choose the few events where you’ll most likely enjoy a couple of drinks and make sure you pass the remaining ones.
2. Sip slowly
Cherish your drink slowly and let it last. By the end of the occasion, you’ll drink less, way less.
3. Avoid mixers or mixed drinks
Do away with soft drinks and sodas – these will sure make you fat and will not help you get tipsy anyway. Also avoid sugary mixed drinks such as margaritas and sangrias.
4. Alternate with water
Alternate alcohol with water. Again, this will definitely help you drink less while also keeping you hydrated.
5. Stick to a budget of 200 calories or less
The following are your options in practical terms:
a) Red or white wine (standard glass of 150ml)
Calories: 125, alcohol: 16g, carbohydrates: 4g (budget allowance is a glass and 3/4)
b) Light beer (small bottle of 350ml)
Calories: 100, alcohol: 11g, carbohydrates: 5g (budget allowance is 2 small beers)
Note: A half pint is 240ml so do the maths
c) Champagne (standard glass of 150ml)
Calories: 100; alcohol: 14g, carbohydrates: 1g (budget allowance is 2 glasses)
d) Vodka, whiskey, rum or gin (45ml or 1 and 3/4 shots)
Calories: 96; alcohol: 14g; carbohydrates: nil (budget allowance is 2 standard straight drinks or 3 shots)
P.S. A gentle reminder that the fat you’ll gain now you’ll have to sweat out later.
To fitness with love,