7 rules for enjoying booze without adding to the bulge
Alcohol can be the worst enemy of those on a health regime or who are loosing weight. Think excess calories, sugary mixers, decreased willpower and hangovers that lead to poor food choices, not to mention throwing a spanner in the works of your exercise routine when recovering from a boozy night out.
But let’s be realistic: enjoying some occasional drinks in moderation with friends is fun and part of a balanced lifestyle. The key is to drink smartly. Here’s your cheat sheet to having your alcohol and drinking it too.
Rule 1: Eat before you drink
If your stomach is empty, the alcohol will be absorbed quickly into your system, meaning you will get drunk faster and be more susceptible to poor food and drink choices as the night goes on. Consuming something that is high in protein or good fats will line the stomach and create a natural buffer. Opt for a pre-drink healthy snack, such as a handful of nuts or hummus with vegetables.
Rule 2: Know how to count your drinks
Many places serve larger drinks than what is technically considered to be a “standard drink.” That glass of wine could actually be up to 50% more than you think. Add to the equation poured spirit drinks and cocktails and you could easily be consuming more alcohol and its empty calories than you planned. Familiarise yourself with standard drink volume measurements of the alcohols you regularly drink so you know how much you are really being served.
Rule 3: Slim down your order
If you are dieting to loose weight, there are plenty of ways you can slim down your drink order by making smarter, lower calorie and lower sugar choices. If you’re a beer drinker, choose the low carb options, which more than cuts the carb content in half.
Spirits are a great choice if served correctly, with vodka, gin, rum, whisky and tequila coming in at around 100 calories per shot. Opt for soda water with fresh lemon or lime as the mixer and you have a relatively low calorie beverage.
Rule 4: Skip the sugary drinks
Most cocktails are loaded with sugar and excessive calories, so give them a miss. The same goes for mixing your spirits with juice or soft drinks.
If you really must have a cocktail, request it to be made without syrup or choose one of the neater options, such as a martini or cosmopolitan.
Rule 5: Drink water
Alcohol dehydrates your body, so it’s even more important than usual to keep rehydrating with water. As a rule of thumb, have a glass of water after every alcoholic drink you consume. This method will also help to prevent you becoming too drunk too quickly, which is a major cause of alcohol fuelled overeating, and stop a horrible hangover the next day. Win, win!
Rule 6: Don’t munch mindlessly
If there are nibbles around you, whether bar snacks or party food, it’s easy to chow down mindlessly after a couple of drinks. These foods are generally not good choices and are high in calories, such as salted trail mixes and chips. Make sure you sit or stand out of reach of the bowl to help prevent munching away at them endlessly. Research suggests too that if food is out of sight you are far less likely to eat it.
Rule 7: Pre-plan your post drink meal
Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and can stimulate your appetite, a combination that often leads to poor food choices after you’ve been drinking. At the end of the night, do yourself a favour and skip the pizza or kebab lines to go home instead. Make sure you have a selection of healthy snacks for when you get back, in case you need to eat something before bed.
The same applies for the following morning. Plan what you will eat and have the ingredients on hand at home, so you don’t turn to a greasy “anti-hangover” meal. If you’re going out for breakfast, make sure you head somewhere with healthy options and opt for a clean dish such eggs, greens and avocado.