Whether it’s fried chicken, a tub of ice cream, or a pint of beer, we all enjoy indulging in food and drinks. Let’s face it, while food and alcohol aren’t essential things in the world, a life without such indulgences would be boring.
For most of us, such pleasures often come with a side of guilt, but it doesn’t have to be this way. There are simple ways you can indulge and remain fit and healthy. The following are seven useful tips that will help you enjoy a happy hour without guilt.
Water is your friend
You must have read this a million times. You must have forgotten about it a million times as well. Drinking a glass of water with every drink you have is crucial for so many reasons. First off, you are making it easier for your liver and kidneys as the water helps dilute the alcohol.
There’s also the fact that you will not be dehydrated. This is especially great to avoid consuming junk food — a craving that always comes late at night when you already have about five or more drinks in your system. By that time, a salad won’t do, and you will probably eat the first greasy thing you find before jumping into bed.
Don’t skip meals
Speaking of food, avoid skipping meals so that you can drink more. Instead, eat a healthy snack before you head out. Ideally, it should be a plate rich in protein, fiber, and a small amount of healthy fat. Avocados, eggs, Greek yogurt, or a protein shake are all favorable options.
Our digestive system takes longer to digest these types of food compared to carbohydrates. Accordingly, you are less likely to crave junk food after drinking due to low blood sugar levels. A plate of vegetables will also help make you feel full, and it comes with considerably fewer calories than other food.
Be mindful of your calorie intake
Having a general idea of the number of calories your favorite drink has will help you determine how many drinks you can afford. Whether it’s a Macallan or a gin and tonic, a beer or a glass of rosé, be aware that not all alcohol has the same calories.
Tequila, vodka, and a light beer generally have fewer calories than drinks such as craft beers. Awareness is an excellent way to stay fit, but remember, skipping meals is not the right way to consume more alcohol. If you do, you will be more likely to indulge in unhealthy food later.
Avoid additional sugar
A sure way of adding more calories to an already loaded drink is by adding sodas and juices. A vodka coke is going to have more calories than vodka with soda water. Avoiding elaborate cocktails is also the right approach if you don’t want to gain weight.
With so many ingredients in one cocktail, the sugar levels can skyrocket in just one drink. For example, a Pina colada can go up to 526 calories, compared to a 177ml Mojito coming in at 143 calories. 235ml of White Russian has 568 calories compared to 145ml of white table wine, which has 128 calories.
Avoid drinking late at night
Alcohol is often consumed in the evening to unwind from a stressful day at work and for some people, to help them fall asleep quickly. While alcohol can make you feel drowsier, it will not provide quality sleep patterns.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, consuming alcohol before bed can lead to more slow-wave patterns of sleep. The latter, known as delta activity, is a type of sleep that helps our memory and learning. When alcohol is present, another brain pattern, known as the alpha activity, is also turned on, although it shouldn’t be during sleep. Together, the alpha activity and the delta activity may stop us from experiencing restorative sleep.
The foundation also states that alcohol before bed can block our REM sleep — the most therapeutic form of sleep we experience during the night. It can also cause the muscles of our throat to relax, leading to more snoring and sleep apnea risks. Alcohol will also cause us to wake up more often during the night to visit the bathroom.
Don’t forget the gym
Or the stairs, that morning run before work, or whatever else gets you moving and burning energy. Now you know how many calories can be hiding in a tiny, unassuming glass of alcohol, so be sure to burn more than you are putting in.
Top trainers will tell you that intensity is best to burn calories fast, and lifting weights can help you burn calories even after you are done working out. But if you don’t enjoy high-intensity interval training or weightlifting, do another form of exercise that you love. Even a regular walk is better than sitting all day, not moving.
Final Thoughts- Master the art of moderation
“Everything in moderation, even moderation,” Oscar Wilde once wrote. The master of unforgettable quotes is on to something. Moderation is key to staying fit and healthy while indulging in alcohol and drinking more than the recommended amount every week isn’t the way to staying fit.
Experts recommend 2-3 units of alcohol a day for women and 3-4 units a day for men. It is also recommended that you not “save up units” to drink them in one night. Finally, remember that having alcohol-free days is essential for your health.