The holidays are approaching, which usually means more social occasions where the alcohol is flowing. Even though we try to be consistent with our exercise and nutrition according to our goals, consumption of alcohol, and the chain of events that sometimes occur when drinking alcohol, can have an impact on our resolve.
Sometimes we have the intention to only drink 1-2 alcoholic beverages. That can sometimes lead to socializing and mindless over-consumption of more alcohol, more drinking to stay social, let loose, or to deal with increased anxiety in social settings, and possibly then mindlessly over-eating on foods that may not be the healthiest options.
What is the impact of drinking alcohol on our body composition and exercise goals? Alcohol tends to be a source of empty calories, and people don’t always stop at drinking 1-2 alcoholic beverages. This can lead to consuming excess calories. Consuming excessive calories in any form – food or alcohol – leads the body to store extra fat and gain weight, often in terms of excess belly fat, or the dreaded “beer belly.”
And what about alcohol and its impact on exercise? A study from Barnes, Mundel, and Stannard (2010) suggests that a moderate dose of alcohol may impair normal muscle recovery after very strenuous exercise. If exercise and performance are your goal, drinking alcohol in excess could contribute to injury and impact your goal attainment.
So what are some healthy mindset exercises to practice when looking at alcohol consumption and what are some healthier alternatives for alcohol beverages? Here are some ideas:
- Go into a social event with a plan. If you know that you have to get up early the next day, or have an exercise planned, reminding yourself of your goals may impact your decision to drink in excess.
- If you know that you are going to drink alcohol, similar to the idea of taking time to really enjoy and savor the taste of your food, pick an alcoholic beverage that you truly like. Pick 1 drink, and sip it slowly, being mindful of the taste and flavor, and pay attention to the social setting that you are in, enjoying the environment you are in, and people you are with.
- Make it a goal to have 1 glass of water for every alcoholic beverage consumed.
If you know that you will be drinking, here’s some healthier alternatives:
- Vodka & club soda or seltzer with lemon or lime
- Bloody Mary, made with V8 or tomato juice and your own added spices
- One glass of red wine
- Scotch on the rocks
- Faux-jito (vodka with diet ginger ale, lime and mint) – MY FAVORITE!
Lastly, here’s some non-alcohol containing beverage ideas:
- Instead of a Margarita, try sugar free lemonade with a salt rim and a wedge of lime.
- Dressed up club soda – go wild and add sliced cucumber.
- Flavored sparkling water- dress it up with added fruit, herbs, or a little fruit juice.
~Michelle Ann Keely,
CrossFit Level 1 Trainer
Precision Nutrition Certified Coach
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