Alcohol

Whether it’s at a bar, at a restaurant, at a club, with family, with friends; many of us love the occasional drink. However, it’s important to keep tabs on this habit. Besides accelerating weight gain and hindering fat loss, alcohol consumption can impact our physical and mental health in many ways. Read on to find out more and to pick up useful tips on keeping a tab on your intake. 

 

 

So many side-effects

Consuming too much alcohol can, in the immediate-term, lead to vomiting and nausea as well as dehydration and headaches; all of which can make you feel pretty rough. Vomiting and digestive upset doesn’t last for long in most cases.

However, in the long-term, alcohol has the potential to affect many different tissues and organs. Those who drink excessively (14 units of alcohol per week) are at risk of developing many different health conditions some of these being liver disease, heart disease and stroke (Savolainen et al. 1993, Corrao et al. 2004). Additionally, alcohol depletes many nutrients in our bodies leading to deficiencies (Lieber 1988, Feinman 1989).

 

Reasons to reduce

Alcohol is full of ‘empty calories’; one gram of alcohol contains 7 calories compared to protein and carbohydrates which contain 4 calories per gram. These calories are also super easy to drink and therefore overconsume. Add in the fact that alcohol increases food cravings, slows metabolism and encourages fat storage (especially around the midsection), and it is clear why alcohol isn’t great when it comes to getting in shape.

If these calories are not compensated for elsewhere; for example, in the form of increased intake of juices and bar snacks; individuals who choose to abstain from alcohol are likely to be leaner and find it easier to maintain a healthy weight. Abstaining also helps increase energy levels and motivation to exercise, thus increasing the effectiveness of any exercise programme.

 

Top tips

As with most things in nutrition, it’s all about a healthy balance and, so long as you’re not pregnant or hoping to get pregnant, an occasional drink now and again is perfectly fine. Stay below the maximum recommended intake of alcohol per week; 14 units for both men and women. One unit equates to one small glass of wine. This should also be spread across the week rather than consumed all in one or two ‘binges’. Savour your drink; drink slowly and mindfully.

To avoid any negative side-effects, never drink alcohol on an empty stomach and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of plain water. Certain choices are also better than others; for example, red wine contains resveratrol (an antioxidant linked to improved cardiovascular health) and clear spirits such as vodka, gin and tequila are generally lower in calories than beer and cider.

Drinking alcohol can fit into any healthy lifestyle. It’s not about cutting out your favourite things or compromising your social life; more a case of making sustainable tweaks to your current patterns. Why not try some of our tips next time you reach for a drink?! We’re confident you’ll feel better physically and have a greater sense of wellbeing.

 

References

Corrao, G., Bagnardi, V., Zambon, A. and La Vecchia, C., 2004. A meta-analysis of alcohol consumption and the risk of 15 diseases. Preventive medicine38(5), pp.613-619.

Feinman, L. Absorption and utilization of nutrients in alcoholism. Alcohol Health & Research World 13(3):207-210, 1989.

Lieber, C.S. The influence of alcohol on nutritional status. Nutrition Reviews 46(7):241-254, 1988.

Savolainen, V.T., Liesto, K., Männikkö, A., Penttilä, A. and Karhunen, P.J., 1993. Alcohol consumption and alcoholic liver disease: evidence of a threshold level of effects of ethanol. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research17(5), pp.1112-1117.

 

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