It’s Saturday night and you’d like to kick back with a few friends and a few tall glasses of red. But you don’t want to blitz the brownie points you earned by exercising daily and eating well all week.
Can a couple of wines derail your health and fitness goals? The answer is not simple – but it’s also a good news story. Surprisingly, you can enjoy that mojito or vodka tonic and maintain the perks from your gym time and green smoothies. Here’s what you should know:
ALCOHOL SPEEDS UP YOUR METABOLISM
“To burn off alcohol as fast as possible, your metabolic rate rises by as much as 10 per cent,” says Professor Garry Egger, a Professor of Health and Human Sciences at Southern Cross University. This sounds like a winner for your waistline, but don’t pop the champagne just yet – there’s a slight catch. “With your liver giving alcohol top priority, your body may not get around to burning as many kilojoules from your recent meals or snacks,” Prof Egger explains.
The antidote? “Be extra careful of what you eat on days you drink,” he says. “In particular, steer clear of high-fat foods like creamy pasta, and unhealthy carbs like French fries.” Instead, choose steamed or salad veggies and lean protein, so your body has fewer kilojoules on board when metabolising your shiraz or chardonnay.
DRINKING LESS REDUCES THE ‘DRUNCHIES’
All week you brown-bagged lunch and cooked healthy dinners. Now, after one too many Bombay blues, you’re snaffling handfuls of crisps or tucking into takeaway pizza. Blame it on the ‘drunk munchies’, which make you more likely to reach for snacks or fast food high in salt, sugar, or fat, US research shows.
Tempted to go for glass three or four? Remind yourself that every standard drink contains almost the same kilojoules as one small sausage roll. Imagine those sausage rolls lined up in a row – that should help you cap your drinks at one or two.
YES, YOU CAN AVOID A HANGOVER
Follow the tipple tips here to help protect your workout routine from getting ditched due to morning-after blahs:
Go for H20
“Alcohol acts as a diuretic and the resulting dehydration can cause a dry mouth, headache and nausea the next day,” warns Dr. Matthew Frei, Clinical Director of Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre, in Victoria. To rehydrate, drink water between each glass of alcohol and mix wine with soda water.
Back off the bubbly
When alcohol contains bubbles (think champagne or rum and coke), it’s absorbed faster so you may drink more, shows research from the University of Manchester.
If you choose spirits, go for clear varieties like gin or vodka. Dark spirits, like rum and whisky, cause worse hangovers, due to their levels of congeners, chemicals created by fermentation, US research shows.
“Large glasses, double shots, and shouts can make you lose track of your drink tally,” Dr Frei says. “Don’t let anyone top up your glass until it’s empty, so you control the pace you drink at and the amount you consume.”