The old “Work hard, play harder” mentality has been around for a while, and let’s be honest, there are some occasions where nothing celebrates a moment quite like a cold beer or a glass of wine with friends, co-workers or even strangers you’ve just met, but if you want to be in good general health
keeping an eye on your alcohol intake is a must.
You can still enjoy yourself
No one is saying you can’t have fun, but instead of thinking of alcohol as part of your regular weekend, think of it as a “treat”. something that you can enjoy occasionally, in moderation, and not something that you consume automatically. Make it an option, not something you just assume is happening.
Consuming too much alcohol has obvious health drawbacks. Besides a thumping headache in the morning, dehydration and recalling your questionable decisions made on the previous night, excessive alcohol consumption can negatively affect most systems of your body.
Alcohol gets into the bloodstream through the stomach and the small intestine. If you have food in your stomach, it will slow down the rate that your body processes alcohol, but it won’t stop you getting drunk. Eventually, all the alcohol that was consumed will reach your bloodstream.
Give your liver a break!
Most of the alcohol in the body (about 91 per cent) is broken down by the liver. A small amount also leaves the body in urine, sweat and the breath. Since the liver can only break down about three quarters of a standard drink an hour, sobering up takes time. Cold showers, exercise, black coffee, fresh air or vomiting will not speed up the process. So with all that said, if you’re still keen on a very occasional alcoholic beverage, there are a few ways to minimise the harm, and still enjoy yourself.
Keep it in moderation
Firstly, I repeat, view a drink or two as a treat
, not as something that you just expect (or are expected) to do. If you're a tea-totaller in Australia, you might be asked “Why aren’t you drinking?” fairly often. Instead of that, ask yourself “Why am I drinking”. If the answer is "because everyone expects me to" or "so I can enjoy myself" then have a think about how much more you value your health goals, and if it's worth setting them back slightly.
So if you’re going out to dinner or an event, think about having the drink, and how far it will put your health goals back. Is it worth it? Sometimes the answer might be yes, others it may be no. That’s entirely up to you, but just think about it.
Secondly, if you’re going to drink, have a drink worth drinking. If it’s something that you can drink like water, then have water instead. However, if it’s something that adds to the occasion, like a glass of red wine that matches your mates BBQ perfectly, or an organic craft beer that just jumps onto your tongue and stays there until all your taste buds are up and dancing, then maybe you can have one or two for the night. If you’re going to compromise your physical health goals, at least try to re-invigorate your mental health.
Thirdly, avoid anything that is very sweet. Besides the obvious extra kilojoules, the sugar may ferment in your stomach with other things you’ve drunk.
Although beer contains only a few carbs per bottle (even zero as some beer manufacturers claim), still, drinking a whole keg will surely pump up carbs into your body en mass.
Lastly, if you have a couple of drinks, don’t throw your healthy meal plan out the window. The late night kebab place has salad too.
Keep it real
Let’s be honest here though, drinking isn’t a healthy activity. There have been studies showing the health benefits of very moderate drinking, but often they’ve been shown to have too narrow a focus, or too small a sample size. As much as we wish it weren't true, there's just not much benefit to the booze.
So drinking overall is bad. If you’re driving, pregnant or under-age, you shouldn't be drinking anyway, besides the legalities, the health risks are extreme and should not be underestimated. There are so-called light-beers that you can drink if you are watching and or in a low carb diet. But if it’s kept moderate, occasional
and used as a treat
, you can still enjoy the occasional cleansing ale or cheeky red without compromising your health too much, and it might even be the mental reset you need to recover some motivation.
You will need to train even harder the next day though. No rest for the wicked!