Week 1 – Alcohol
As this is “the season to be jolly” I have decided to focus on alcohol. Like everything, moderation is key. However, alcohol is linked to weight gain and can seriously affect your training routine. Did you know that a large glass of wine can have close to the same calories as a packet of Walkers Crisps? Or that a pint of larger could be compared to consuming a Wispa bar.
Alcohol has no nutritional benefit, yet for every gram of alcohol we consume 7 calories. When you drink alcohol, it is broken down by your liver. Our bodies treat alcohol as a “VIP”, meaning that your body will burn alcohol before any other calorie you have consumed or stored, including fat and even sugar. In addition, studies show that alcohol temporarily inhibits our bodies to burn the fat that’s already there. So basically, “You Booz, you don’t lose”. Lowering your alcohol intake over the Christmas period (and in general) can help you lose unwanted body fat. As one pint of beer is a little below 200 calories, cutting out 5 pints per week enables you to save 3640 calories per month…that’s 0.5 kg of body fat!
Have a look at how many extra calories you could potentially consume a day on top of your food. Remember, one pound of fat is the equivalent to only 3000 calories.
Drink Serving Size Calories
Guinness Pint 210
Gin & Tonic
175ml Glass 119
Regular Dry Cider
Vodka & Coke
Vodka & Diet Coke
Vodka, Lime & Soda
Vodka & Red Bull (1/2can) Single 112
Whisky & Lemonade
White Wine – Dry
White Wine & Lemonade Regular Lemonade (175ml wine)
Alcopops One bottle 160-240
Now let’s look at the affect alcohol has on our athletic performance. Overall, it is detrimental to our running/walking performance and does so in two main ways. Firstly, alcohol is a diuretic (i.e. leads us to become dehydrated) which explains our constant urge to wee on nights out. This dehydration increases our risk of muscle cramps, pulls, strains and general fatigue. Exercising soon after drinking alcohol (the next day) can make this dehydration worse leading to reduced performance.
Secondly, alcohol interferes with the way your body produces energy. As stated above, our body breaks down alcohol first, resulting in our livers being unable to produce the glucose that is required for our runs, seriously affecting our performance. To ensure that we avoid the above risks it is essential that you re hydrate yourself fully before training as well as cutting down on alcohol overall.
Tips for drinking over Christmas:
• Spread your drinks out.
• Eat before you go out and avoid the temptation of heading to the chipper afterwards.
• Chose diet mixers
• Drink water between drinks, after your night out and especially the day after.
Enjoy Christmas folks but keep in mind that every drink you refuse will enable you to cross that finish line in March a little easier and quicker!
MSc Human Nutrition
BA Hons Health Promotion