How to Drink Alcohol Without Ruining Your Healthy Diet
It’s the end of a long day. Maybe even the end of a long week. The gym was in your evening plans but your colleagues and friends are wondering if you wanted to join them for a quick drink. Why not, right?
Being healthy and drinking alcohol aren’t exactly synonymous. But living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean eliminating alcohol. If you enjoy something, then enjoy it. I’ll be the first to admit that I like having a couple of beers or sipping on a cocktail, especially with summer right around the corner.
There are a lot of myths surrounding alcohol and its effect on your health. Alcohol might be getting an unnecessarily negative reputation. Today, we’re going to derail the myths, see how alcohol might benefit your health, and learn how to drink while still being healthy.
Alcohol Myths Busted
You’ve heard that alcohol can make you fat, or even ruin the effects of your workout. Some of these myths are true, but some are also widely exaggerated.
Let’s dig into the facts.
Does alcohol make you fat?
Once alcohol enters the body, surprising to most, it doesn’t get stored as fat. Because alcohol is a toxin, the body makes it a top priority to get alcohol out of your system. The body actually puts oxidation (burning) of other nutrients, including fat, carbohydrates, and protein on hold. This does enable fat to get stored easily, but according to a study published by the American Journal of Nutrition, for every 24 grams of alcohol synthesized by the liver; only 0.8 grams were converted into fat. That’s not a lot.
However, alcohol doesn’t provide any satiation and lowers our impulse control. This in turn, causes us to think that we’re hungrier than we are. What really packs on the pounds is over eating while intoxicated. Ever come back from a night out and eat a little too many snacks, or slices of pizza? Exactly.
Do calories from alcohol count?
Yes and no.
Weighing in at about seven calories per gram, it’s no wonder why people are concerned over drinking that glass of wine or beer.
The calories consumed from alcohol can be managed the same way that it’s metabolized. If you have consumed 100 calories worth of alcohol, this needs to be oxidized in order for other nutrients like fat, carbohydrates, and protein to be oxidized. The more calories of alcohol you consume, the harder it is for your body to get back to oxidizing other nutrients. So drink moderately — between two and three drinks — so you can give you body the chance to manage that calorie intake.
Can alcohol ruin the effects of a good workout?
When you’re putting all this time into going to the gym, living a healthy lifestyle, and getting in great shape, the last thing that you want to do is ruin it by consuming alcohol. We’ve all been told that alcohol can lower testosterone and negatively impact your training.
Yes, alcohol can lower testosterone, but not by that much. In a study published by Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, participants consumed 30 to 40 grams of alcohol every day for three weeks. The results showed that men’s overall levels of testosterone dropped by 6.8 percent, and women’s testosterone levels had not dropped at all.
Now, you can certainly consume enough alcohol to see a significant drop in testosterone but if that’s the case, you’re drinking way too much.
The same goes for alcohol’s effects on muscle strength and repair. Studies show that alcohol consumption post workout has no effect on muscle repair or strength. Much like testosterone, if you do see negative effects from alcohol consumption post workout, you’re drinking way too much.
All in all, drinking in moderation doesn’t seem to have any negative side effects on your health, or impairing your ability to live a healthy lifestyle.
Alcohol Might Actually Be Good for You
Yes, that’s right.
Cheers to you! Here’s a list of some of the ways that consuming alcohol can be beneficial for your health:
- Decreases risk of heart disease
- Decreases risk of dementia
- Decreases stress and depression
- Increases mortality
In addition, studies have shown that moderate alcohol consumption does not have an effect on weight gain. Moderate alcohol consumption also improves insulin sensitivity, which helps the body to burn fat.
Now, this isn’t a hall pass to drink whatever and however much you want. It just means that that it’s okay to enjoy the libations. With that said, it’s still easy to drink the wrong drink even if you think that it might be healthy.
Here are some guidelines to make sure that you make the healthy beverage choice all the time:
If you’re not sure how to make the healthy choice when it comes to choosing your beverage, here are some quick guidelines to make sure you’re picking something that isn’t too heavy on the calories, and is healthy for you.
- Stick with wines and spirits, they’re both low carb and low sugar.
- Lean towards dry wines, like merlot or cabernets.
- Stay away from sugary mixers and cocktails (like Long Island Iced Teas)
- If you want a mixed drink, use diet or club soda.
- If you want a beer, go for a light one!
With the guidelines above, you can guarantee that you’re always making the healthy choice when it comes to choosing your alcoholic beverage. If worse comes to worse and you want to enjoy something sweeter or heavier like a piña colada, then have it!
PSST ALOHA has a secret to share with you: Our office swears by the Foundation and the Daily Good Greens to feel better after a night of drinking. While we aren’t experts, this is our favorite “party secret”!