Drinking alcohol and staying fit can definitely be a hard act to balance. Thanks to one of our Balanced Babe contributors, Sarah Landrum, we have seven smart ways that you can do less damage while sipping on your favorite glass of wine!
It’s Friday, it’s been a long week and a cool drink in your hand sounds like the perfect way to unwind. Then you think about all those crunches and bar dips you did this week. Does a visit to the bar or a glass of wine with dinner mean ruining your healthy habits? It doesn’t have to.
If you’re reading this, you probably understand that drinking, particularly drinking in excess, can have negative consequences on your health. There’s no magic bullet to reverse the effects alcohol has on the body, but drinking doesn’t have to be the downfall of your healthy habits.
As with many things, the key to drinking alcohol and staying fit in a way that won’t waste all of your effort of eating right and working out is being informed. So here are seven tips that will help you enjoy the next sip guilt-free.
Drinking Alcohol And Staying Fit: 7 Ways To Balance Your Booze
1. Have Something in the Tank
You’ve probably heard the old adage “don’t drink on an empty stomach,” and maybe you even practice this trick, which will slow the rate at which alcohol is absorbed into your system. What you might not know is there are good and bad foods to eat before a trip to the bar.
It’s a good idea to eat a meal before you go out drinking, but even if you can’t get a full meal in, you can make a wise decision to start your night out with a snack that will keep you from overdoing it. Choose something high in protein and healthy fats, like nuts or avocado, to nibble on. These types of foods will help you feel full and slow alcohol absorption, so you can avoid making unhealthy choices later.
2. Clear Winners
Don’t you just hate congeners? You might not know it, but if you’ve ever experienced the hangover that comes after a night of whiskey and soda, believe us you do. Congeners are chemical compounds that form during the fermentation process, and they are toxic.
Light liquors like vodka and gin are typically much lower in congeners – about 37 times lower – than darker liquors, for example, whiskey or dark rum. Sticking to clear drinks is the best way to keep your congener count low and avoid a nasty headache in the morning.
3. Know the Count
If you’re concerned about calories, it’s important to understand the way restaurants and bars fiddle with serving sizes. A single serving of beer is defined as 12 ounces.
However beer is often served in a 16-ounce pint. A single serving of wine is defined as 5 ounces, and a single pour of liquor 1.5, but studies have shown that servings at bars and restaurants exceed these amounts by 40 percent on average. That means more calories and more alcohol, which affects decision-making. Be honest with yourself about what you’ve had to drink. It will lead to better decisions as the night winds on.
Just because you were good all week doesn’t change the effect that several drinks will have on you. If you’re abstaining from drinking for long periods only to break down and overdo it when you choose to drink, don’t. Your body will handle a single drink after work and a few over the weekend much better than everything at once on Saturday night. Alcohol poisoning is more common, and easier to get, than you think, so avoid the risk altogether and limit those drinks.
And if you or a friend start to display the signs, such as confusion, passing out, throwing up, or dropping body temperature, be sure to get help.
5. Consider Carbs
You might have two favorite drinks that are on entirely different ends of the carb spectrum. We all know how drinks can add up, so selecting the low-carb option can have dramatic effects in the course of a week, month or a year. Beer drinkers will want to select lighter options like lagers and pilsners, which are typically in the 90-140 carb range. Heavier fare such as IPA and stout can pack 200 or even 300 carbs per serving.
Cocktails are healthiest when mixed with low-carb options like soda water, rather than sugary drinks such as cola. Swap your typical mixer out for some ice cubes for a drink that’s both effective and low-carb. You might just impress your buddies, too.
Bet you’ve never heard this one before. No matter how many times it’s said, water is your best buddy during a night of drinking. If you’re planning on painting the town, you’ll want to hydrate like Jake Gyllenhaal in “Jarhead.”
Make a habit of ordering a tall water with each drink. Alternate sips. You’ll be surprised at how this works to slow your consumption of alcohol, and remaining hydrated will help keep your judgement intact. This way, you won’t order that last one you don’t need or be asked to leave when you visit the wrong restroom by accident. See, water is good!
7. Have Healthy Food Options After Your Outing
Drinking can stimulate your appetite, but you don’t have to wake up feeling guilty because you at something you normally wouldn’t. Make a plan so you won’t succumb to late-night cravings. Have healthy options like fruit and nuts or pita and hummus available at home so you don’t pick up junk food or sweets on the way there. If you’re friends are likely to steer things in the direction of a late-night snack, know where you can find a restaurant that offers healthy dishes, so everyone can enjoy.
Drinking socially with friends is something many of us see as a privilege for the long hours and stressful days we endure during the week. Don’t let it become a thing to be feared. Remember that you’re in control. Don’t paint yourself into a corner by heading out with the mindset that you’re going to hate life in the morning and that’s just the way it’s going to be. Stick to these suggestions, have a plan and don’t be ashamed to tell your drinking partners about it. If they respect you, they’ll understand you’ve got your own well-being in mind, and you’ll all be better off for it.
About the author: Sarah Landrum
Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and career blogger, sharing advice on finding happiness and success in your career and in life. Passionate about both food and living a balanced life, Sarah is always on the lookout for healthy new recipes and ways to get fit. Share your favorites and check out more from Sarah by following her on Twitter @SarahLandrum