Do you or don’t you, that is the question. In the health and fitness world, the consumption of alcohol is often demonized for its potential negative effects on body composition. What if I told you that it is possible to be social, enjoy nights out and still have a killer physique? With some planning and discipline, you absolutely can have the best of both worlds, here’s how:
1. Eat Smart Before, During and After
It isn’t always the drinking that is the culprit, in most cases it is our food choice whilst we are drinking and also the hangover food that throws us out of our energy expenditure balance for the week. If you’re out for a few beverages, chomping down pizza or burgers with the boys and then the next day hitting up the family feast box at KFC when you’re feeling sorry for yourself chances are you’re going way over your calorie targets. The key here is to be more mindful of your choices, I’ll discuss another way you can do this in the point below but for the most part it just takes a little bit of consciousness. Think of alcohol as your “Treat” for the week, so instead of smashing calorie dense foods as well, opt for a grilled steak with veggies or a seafood platter to reduce overall calorie intake for that day or week. The next day, instead of ravishing your way through every drive through, be prepared; pre- prep “decent” meals the day before so they’re accessible in your fridge, this way you’re less likely to go looking for crap. Alternatively, whip yourself up some bacon and eggs with a few pieces of toast. Still delicious and less artery clogging than greasy takeaway.
Another way you can work alcohol in to your lifestyle is to simply track and account for it. Use a tracking app to log your alcohol for the night and reduce calorie intake from food accordingly. The important thing is to be diligent; if you log 4 drinks, stick to only drinking 4 drinks that night, or this system doesn’t work. You can also implement this strategy for your meals the next day; if you know you’re going to want a burger for example, track that food and build the rest of the day around it. This way instead of spilling over, you’re completely within your targets for the day/week and therefore are staying accountable to your goals. This a highly recommended method if you are wanting to drink or be social with food and alter body composition at the same time.
3. Drink Smart
Did you know some cocktails have upwards of 700 calories? If you’re trying to shred, you’re probably not going to want to hit the pina colads my friends. If you’re in the process of shifting your body composition, opt for lower calorie drinks such as straight spirits, spirits with soda water or diet soft drink, lite beers and champagne. These are the lowest calorie options of the more common alcoholic drinks. If you use the method above, you can easily fit 4 drinks in for under 500 calories.
Don’t underestimate the powers of the sleep and the purpose it plays in your next day food antics. Not only is sleep essential for detoxing and helping the liver process the toxin that is alcohol, but it is crucial in stabilizing hunger hormones and the reward centers in our brains. More, quality sleep after a night out means you are less likely to seek out that KFC we spoke about earlier. A lack of quality sleep leads to you being increasingly hungry, less satiated when you do eat and craving foods that set of dopamine receptors, all in all a shredders nightmare; essentially you become a bottomless pit for all things sugar. If you are looking to improve body composition, set yourself some boundaries; try to get home at a decent hour, drink some water and hit the hay. By doing so, you’re putting yourself in a much better position to achieve your goals the following day!
Incorporating drinking to your lifestyle whilst trying to change your body composition is absolutely possible, it just requires planning. Unless you are prepping for a show, try to treat the art of bio-transformation as a lifestyle, it shouldn’t be torture; you don’t need to fear social occasions and outings. Enjoy yourself and drink responsibly.