It’s this time of the year, Christmas is coming and you might wonder:
“How will I survive the next Christmas parties with friends, family, co-workers without altering/slowing down my fitness goals if I drink?”
I’m writing this blog from personal experience and as a personal trainer with many clients fearing to hear: “cut out all alcohol drinks”.
As an athlete, I do not drink myself, for the major part of the year at least, and enjoy a drink here and there as the occasion comes. Always good to let go sometimes! Moderation in all things as they say, though drinking does not have to reach extreme levels. It can be seen as a luxury treat/escape state that we occasionally allow our bodies and minds to get into.
Now, let's get into the facts to understand how this might affect your fitness goals, overall journey and most importantly your health.
How does alcohol affect your fitness goals:
Alcohol is a diuretic substance, meaning that drinking too much of it may lead to dehydration, because it makes your kidney produce more urine. If you are dehydrated it is not recommended to exercise as that will make you sweat,
which means that you’ll get even more dehydrated. “Hydration also helps control your body temperature so you’re more likely to overheat if you’ve been drinking alcohol.”(Drinkaware, 2020). So if you do drink alcohol, make sure you are drinking plenty of water before, during and after to stay hydrated.
No need to be a top league athlete to mind about your alcohol consumption. In fact, not keeping a balanced approach when it comes to drinking, and not being aware
of your personal limits for that matter, might simply put back your fitness performance to square one. In fact, your liver, busy breaking down the alcohol, cannot produce as much glucose from what you eat. Instead, retrieving energy from fat (slow release of energy) rather than glucose (fast release) as transformed from ingested nutrient
s, your energy level gets slower. Note that using fat rather than sugar for energy production might actually be a good thing in other contexts, such as the ketogenic diet. But in the case of alcohol, the shortage of glucose is so sudden that your metabolism does not have time to prepare for it, to maintain energy, concentration and dexterity levels. And no need to talk about how uncomfortable your next day training can get… Just think of the bright light and cool air at the gym when you get a headache and feel hungover!
Release of hormones for muscle growth, injury repair, organ cleansing, and whole body and mind recovery, all of this happens when you sleep (watch this videos for more about what Arianna Huffington calls the ‘sleep revolution’).
Well, you can see what’s coming, if consuming alcohol disturbs your sleeping patterns on top of everything else… The cost of that tipsy feel good' state starts to outweigh the benefits.
>> YOUR XMAS DRINKING CHECKLIST <<
So before we all embark on the Christmas cheer madness week next week, take a look at this checklist:
Set an intention before you go (compare different outcomes of different “drinking scenarios” and think of how rewarding it might also feel to engage in conversations with family and friends without that drowsy feeling)
Think of non-alcoholic options (exciting ones of course ! why not bringing sparkling water with a drop of elderflower juice on the table or trying an innovative tea-based mocktail)
Make water the first drink you get (to keep hydrated, flush out the toxins and just varying a bit)
Get ready food-wise. Stick to a heavier meal (I’m sure there won’t be any problem on that side ;)) before you drink. Careful with heartburn, though make sure you don’t overdo it on the greasy and sugary stuff
Stock on vitamins before/after
Avoid coffee the morning after; I know that’s counterintuitive, but this will further dehydrate your system, worsening the headache and other hungover effects of alcohol. Drink plenty of water and opt for green juices instead if possible
Select low-calorie drinks if you can, e.g. Gin and Tonic, Cosmopolitan, mulled wine or sherry are less calorific than creamy and egg-based cocktail
Natalia & Claire, The Good Fit Project, 16th December 2020