The short answer is yes. However before we can start tracking our alcohol, you need to understand how it affects us, the consequences, what it contains, then how you can strategize this into your plan without falling off track.
Over the last two years, alcohol has crept into my life a little more than I ever thought it would. I have competed since I was 17 and so drinking alcohol never played much of role in my life. It was only on a rare occasion that I would have a drink and usually, it would be planned for months or weeks before. I remember going out for dinner and wondering why people even bothered having a few glasses of wine. I didn’t like it, it was a waste of calories and if I am honest, I would only see drinking as something you did when you planned on having a big night so, to me, it seemed like a silly concept.
However, 5 years down the track and I am now 23 years old and my life has changed a lot. Including the people I am surrounded by, my priorities, my outlook on life and how I like to spend my free time. Although I am the first person to say you can never blame someone else for your actions, the more I am surrounded by alcohol and social events, the harder I have found it to say no to a drink.
A glass or two has become something I enjoy. Something I watched my parents do for years and now I understand it. I enjoy going out on the weekend for a drink with my friends or partner and I don’t plan on giving that up any time soon. So if you enjoy it too, you don’t have too either.
I am all about finding a balance between your lifestyle and goals. It is what I preach.
I will never be someone to tell a client or friend how to live their life. If you don’t drink alcohol great, if you do, no problem. I have followed restriction for a long time and now that I have learned the idea of balance, I will never go back to restriction again. What I want to do is teach you how to fit these things you enjoy in your life. I am not advocating drinking as a part of your life, and of course, if you can cut it out completely you will get to your goals faster and obviously for health reasons that is the best option, however, if I can find a way to incorporate alcohol into my life without too much of a consequence, I’m going to do it.
The first question I would ask is, well how much exactly are you having? I will continue to stand by the idea around ‘anything in moderation’.
So Let’s talk about the consequences of alcohol
Apart from the calories, I find larger consumptions of alcohol on a big night out more of an issue for other reasons. Generally speaking, if you have experienced a hangover before, chances are you know that alcohol leads to poor decisions. Not only the night of your event but the following days also.
- The timing of when we consume alcohol generally takes place late at night. The most sedentary time of our day and therefore, we go to sleep on these calories sitting in our stomach
- Your appetite increases as consumption of alcohol activate the same cells in your brain as the ones that promote hunger. Not only does it bring on the hunger, but the signs that we normally receive when we are full will also be harder to recognize the more intoxicated you become
- Sleep quality is affected
- Your ability to recover from training is effected. Research has shown that alcohol reduces our muscle protein synthesis so in other words, inhibits our ability to repair our muscles after training.
- Alcohol dehydrates us. Dehydration leads to more cravings (especially high sodium foods) and consumption of larger quantities of food
- Alcohol leads to fluid retention so chances are, the days following your night out, you’re going to appear softer looking and the number on the scales may go up slightly
- Hangovers are not fun for anybody. Most of the day you were sedentary watching Netflix with the only steps you do are to the door to collect your uber eats. This means fewer calories burnt on the day you consume probably the most!
Alcohol contains high amounts of calories alone, let alone the sugar content in most of them too. Our alcoholic beverages range from around 100 calories for a vodka soda, to 120 calories for a glass of wine all the way up to 700 calories in some tasty cocktails. Apart from the obvious issue that alcohol equates to us going over our budget of calories for the day, it is more about the decisions that follow that are more detrimental than the calories alone.
So yes alcohol and having a big night out can have consequences, but if you plan ahead, strategise and be smart with your choices, it can be done without too much damage.
My Tips to avoid falling off track when consuming alcohol
- Plan ahead & know your events coming up on your calendar
- Your night and rest day must be earnt. All training must be ticked off for the week to the best of your ability before you can allow yourself to go out and have your rest day the following day. I always schedule my rest day the day after a night out so I’m not missing a session.
- Increase your step target the day of and the day after.
- Slightly extra cardio the day before and after to flush the toxins and burn some of those extra calories
- Schedule your cheat meal for that day. Do not let your cheat meal turn into a cheat week. You get one, and you choose if you want it the night of your outing or the next day. As soon as that’s done you are back on track. You have already consumed more calories than usual so don’t let this undo all your hard work for the week just because you feel a little sorry for yourself!
- Drink loads of water pre, day of and the day after. BCCAS always help rehydrate you too!
- Track your drinks and stick to the lowest calorie ones possible
So how do I calculate this into my calories for the day?
If you are someone who wants a glass with dinner every single night. Go for it, I see no problem with that. However, the issue arises when that one, turns into 3, maybe even 4 without realizing as you are cooking dinner or chatting with a friend. By the end of the week, these glasses add up!
Unless you are a competitor on a strict diet plan, a glass of wine can be scheduled into your calories a few times a week no problem. However, keep in mind if weight loss is your ultimate goal, having a few here and there throughout the week can equate to 1000 calories extra. If you love your alcohol but struggle with how to fit it in calories, my plans will actually do this for you.
This was something I always wanted to include in my plans for my clients. I have had clients before be afraid to tell me they drank on the weekend and it really shouldn’t that way. So let me teach you how to do it correctly.
With my recommendation of lowest calorie alcohol choices, you will be able to drag and drop your favourite beverage from my list into your meal plan for the day. It will show you exactly how many calories are in it and whether you are going over your budget for the day if you include it. I have done this to teach you when it’s ok to have one and when it is not.
The bottom line is, alcohol is not the enemy alone. Your portion control is. Just like food, everything can be consumed in moderation and when scheduled into your plan correctly.