As a Personal Trainer and with the lifestyle led by some within London I’m always being asked what effect alcohol has on the human body and the impact if can have your personal training program. First, although some people may willingly choose to give up alcohol entirely, I still think most of us can drink in moderation, and still stay perfectly healthy and lean. But there are a few tricks that can help you to not pack on the pounds.
As for myself as a Fitness Instructor, it comes down to choosing what I'm going to be strict about to maintain my fitness lifestyle and what I'm not going to be strict about. For example, I'm pretty strict about never eating anything deep fried or made with trans fats, never eating white bread, and never drinking carbonated fizzy drinks or sweetened soft drinks of any kind; but I'll admit that one thing I've chosen to not be strict about is drinking alcohol.
Of course, if you have no problem abstaining from alcohol and willingly make that decision, then that can certainly be the best thing for your health if you're the type that has a hard time controlling portions.
However, for the rest of us, that actually do like to partake in some social drinking, here are a few tips that have helped me to stay single-digit bodyfat lean, while still drinking alcohol occasionally.
TIP 1. Alcohol gives you extra empty calories on the days that you choose to drink. Alcohol has 7 calories per gram, compared to 4 calories per gram for carbohydrates and protein, and 9 calories per gram for fats.
On nights that I know are going to involve some drinking, it helps to make sure that dinner is based only around protein and vegetables. Plus, most importantly, there's just no room for loads of carbohydrate-rich foods if you're also going to be consuming alcohol. Carbohydrate & alcohol is a perfect recipe for growing a beer belly. Try to keep that evening meal a fairly low-carb meal to save you from extra empty calories.
TIP 2. If you want to save your body from adding layers of ugly fat, by all means stay away from syrupy, fruity drinks that are loaded with sugar, not only are you getting all of the empty alcohol calories, but also loads of empty sugar calories. Big fruity drinks such as a big syrupy margarita or other tropical fruity drinks can sometimes have as much as 500-600 calories per serving and 70-100 grams of sugar.
Next point, any drink that uses fizzy drinks (cola, lemonade etc) as the mixer is going to be loaded with sugar and calories. Instead, your best bet is to stick with a clear alcohol mixed with club soda (not tonic) and a squeeze of lime or lemon. Stay away from tonic water mixers, as this is loaded with almost as much sugar as regular fizzy drinks, whereas club soda has no calories at all.
TIP 3. Try to get in a high intensity full body workout before your night out of drinking. If you do this, at least you've revved up your metabolism and have your body processing calories a little faster.
Also, trying to get in some sort of exercise the morning after your night out can also help to get your body back to a good state of health. This may not be your best workouts in terms of energy, but it can help to just get your body moving and break a sweat, and get back to a good homeostasis.
TIP 4. Avoid the late-night munchies after a night of drinking. This is where most people do the biggest damage to their waistlines. Instead, make sure to have some lean protein and vegetables quickly available at home so that you can satisfy your late night post-party appetite with lean protein instead of carbohydrates. The worst thing for your body is loading up on pizza, kebab, and other carb-rich junk after a night out of drinking.
TIP 5. Wine is one of the healthier drink choices... if you must have a drink; you might as well choose wine so you at least get a good dose of antioxidants as well. Red wine is known for its antioxidant content, however even white wines contain some antioxidants as well; white wines just aren't quite as high in antioxidants as red wines.
In a good dry red wine the powerful antioxidants have been shown to help normalise blood pressure, protect your heart health, and reduce the risk of cancer and lots more.
However here is an interesting fact about the effect of red wine on your fat cells: According to a recent article in Men's Health (April 2014), "Another study, in J. Nutrition, found that moderate wine drinkers tended to not gain any weight after 6 years, while those who drink beer or spirits more heavily did. The reasons? Red wine may interfere with the way fat accumulates in fat cells and may also reduce the size of fat cells, say researchers in Spain. Plus, the resveratrol might affect the expression of a gene that controls the formation of body fat, reports Nutrition Reviews."
Now that’s good news if you love a glass of red wine with dinner. In fact, by adding 1-2 glasses of red wine with dinners about 4-5 nights per week has had no detrimental effect in terms of weight gain on myself. I really enjoy the taste of red wine with a meal, but it's also nice to mentally know you're doing the body good, which as a personal trainer / fitness instructor is very important for me.
And finally, drinking alcohol just adds one more thing to your list that you have to work against in getting the body you want. Abstaining may always be the best choice, but we also need to be realistic and know that social drinking is not something that most people are willing to give up entirely. For that reason, this list of tips to help manage social drinking in a healthier way can really help you to stay leaner and healthier and still balance a little bit of social drinking into your life. —————————————————————————————————————— Ian Guildford is FORZA Supplements Head Personal Trainer with a wealth of experience in helping individuals achieve their personal fitness goals. Ian’s REP qualified to levels 2 & 3, and is a certified INSANITY instructor. Not only this, Ian has gained a reputation for getting celebrities in fitness shape, most notably former Apprentice 2013 star Luisa Zissman and former Celebrity Big Brother star Casey Batchelor. For more information on FORZA’s Personal Training sessions visit our website.