Can We Really Drink Alcohol And Still Hit Our Goals?
‘I can resist anything except temptation’ – Oscar Wilde
One of our Nutritionists, Robin Swinkels is sharing how she stays on top of her goals, whilst enjoying a drink or two with the Christmas festivities.
Last year I had a specific goal in mind, but I was forever faced with the same dilemma I’m sure many of you are now. When your friends and work colleagues invite you for a drink to celebrate the festive season, but you were planning on heading to the gym, what decision do you make? Experience has taught me not to write off social events altogether, but instead to be mindful of how you can align them with your goals.
First of all, let’s talk alcohol and fat loss
They tend not to go hand in hand. Alcohol is the fourth, often overlooked macronutrient, aside from protein, carbohydrates and fat. Alcohol provides 7 calories per gram (for comparison, protein and carbs provide 4, and fats 9). It has no other nutritional value, and if you’re having high sugar mixers and cocktails, these will only be adding to the empty calories.
It is much easier to drink 2000 calories than it is to eat them, although after a few drinks, the likelihood is you’ll be doing this too. Surely, I’m not the only one who craves pizza and chips on the way home right? Getting drunk will not only weaken your willpower to stick to your diet, but you are also less likely to head to the gym the next day, or spend time prepping your meals for the week ahead. (That is if you are not already on this super handy meal prep service of course).
Saying this, we are all human and of course enjoying your social life is important to your mental wellbeing. Sometimes you need to fold your diet around your life and not the other way around. I’ve put together some tips based on the insight I gained whilst prepping for my competition last year, exactly for occasions like these. If you have a serious fat loss goal I’d always recommend avoiding alcohol completely but, in general, the trick is simply not to overdo it.
+ Be mindful of how much you are having, anticipate what else you are going to be having on that day and ensure it fits your macros. It’s important to realise that something is not going to taste any better by having more of it. You really do not need to finish the whole bottle.
+ Choose a drink that you really enjoy regardless of calories. This may sound a bit controversial as some alcoholic drinks are more diet friendly than others. Yes straight vodka on the rocks may be a relatively “skinny” choice of drink, however few people really enjoy the taste. When I was on prep I learned to be mindful of every calorie going into my body. Trying to quench a craving with something less than the crave will only leave you craving more, hating your diet and feeling deprived. It’s better to have one glass of something you really enjoy so you feel satisfied, and it’s easier to then go back to your diet the next day.
+ For fat loss you need to be in a calorie deficit. If you have lots of social events lined up, and tend to opt for dessert, ensure you are still in a calorie deficit by extending your workouts to ramp up your energy expenditure. The extra run isn’t an excuse to go all out but it can help control the damage.
+ Ensure you have a healthy meal or snack pre-prepared for when you come home so that when you’re hungry, you don’t find yourself reaching for quick, unhealthy and calorific alternatives.
+ Drink water in between your alcoholic drinks. It helps slow down the rate at which you finish your drink and ensures you are less likely to lose control. It also helps with the hangover!
+ Learn to say no. Sometimes it really isn’t such a bad thing not to drink, even on special occasions. Going out and not drinking is a skill but definitely worth trying. You’ll be amazed at how much fun you can have and how great you will feel the next day!
I hope these tips have been useful, and can help some of you enjoy a cosy tipple, whilst feeling a bit more in control. However, if you are revising these tips every weekend it’s also worth asking yourself where your priorities lie. If you want to lose fat but spend every weekend in the pub, the two things don’t generally work well together. You need to be mindful, motivated and determined in order to balance those social events and your fat loss goals.