When it comes to nutrition, training and competition you are willing to make any sacrifice necessary to improve your performance, right? However, there is one thing many people willfully overlook as they overindulge; alcohol.
Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with a glass of wine at dinner or a couple of beers during the game. As a matter of fact, studies have shown that moderate consumption of alcohol can have protective effects on the cardiovascular system. Unfortunately, a couple drinks can easily become 10 and next thing you know you it is 4 a.m. and you just housed an entire order of chili cheese fries at the diner across town.
So, while I am not suggesting that you do not drink at all, it is important to know how alcohol affects performance and weight loss; then check out The 5 Steps to Surviving Happy Hour that shows you how to enjoy a happy hour that does not cancel out your training.
Alcohol is a diuretic that causes dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. When dehydrated an athlete is at greater risk for cramps, muscle strains and fatigue. In this state, the body is unable to supply itself with the nutrients needed to fuel performance and facilitate recovery.
Drinking too much can decrease testosterone and human growth hormone levels in the body. These hormones are essential for muscle growth, recovery and sexual performance; so keep in mind your workout is not all that suffers when you drink too much.
Booze, beer, libations. No matter what you call it, alcohol has little nutritional value. Each gram of alcohol packs seven kilocalories compared to nine for fat and four for both carbohydrate and protein. Every drink you consume contains about 150 empty calories that are converted to fat. They call it a beer gut for a reason.
Also know as a hangover, alcohol can compromise your performance, sleep cycle and brain function for up to three days after an evening of 5 drinks or more.
Now that you know how alcohol affects your body and performance you are abstaining from drinking, choosing a life of temperance instead; right? (Insert laughter and obscene gestures here)
Yeah, I saw that coming, so I went ahead and created The 5 Steps to Surviving Happy Hour to help you avoid a night of binge drinking that is at odds with your weight loss or performance goals.
5 Steps to Surviving Happy Hour
1. Food First
Have dinner before you head out or grab a menu before scoping out the drink list. Avoid a late night fast food binge and a disastrous hangover by getting some food in your system before your first drink. Aim for a meal that consists of nutritious, filling and slow digesting foods like steak or fibrous vegetables.
2. Shoot Straight
Typically, a 12 ounce beer has more calories than 1.5 ounces of liquor and mixers pack a ton of sugar. Cut back on your calorie intake by ordering your drinks neat, on the rocks or with a calorie free mixer. If you are a beer drinker go for the lower calorie light or ultra-light option.
3. Mandatory Water Breaks
Avoid making a fool of yourself, blacking out and a trip to the drunk-tank by adhering to a strict ratio of one glass of water for every one alcoholic beverage you consume. Not only will you prevent dehydration, but you will also decrease the likelihood of a nasty hangover.
4. Finish with Food
When your designated driver or cabbie drops you off at home (way to be responsible), have a snack before you blackout go to sleep. Don’t go overboard with fast food or junk, all you need is a little something to soak up all that alcohol. Whip up a protein shake or chug some BCAA’s to restart protein synthesis, muscle recovery and testosterone production.
So you stayed out too late, drank too much and ate a bunch of garbage. Now all you want to do is pull the covers over your head and stay in bed. Too bad! If you are going to party hard you better be prepared to train harder. Sure you might have a headache, but once you begin your workout and get a sweat going you will feel better. If not, at least you will be sweating out all of the toxins and burning the excess calories you took in previous night.
However you enjoy yourself and no matter your beverage of choice, just remember to be safe and responsible. It is all fun and games until someone gets hurt or arrested, and that is the last thing any of us want.
Joe is a writer, trainer and fitness entrepreneur who co-founded Hybrid Athlete LLC, Kettlebell Cardio™ and Race Day Domination. Currently building @fittinsider, a platform for founders, executives, & investors redefining fitness/wellness. Investing in health/fitness companies