Drinking alcohol can be extremely healthy.
Studies have shown that moderate drinking makes you live live longer than non-drinkers and helps with everything from depression to cancer and cardiovascular disease. Moderate drinkers even weigh less than than non drinkers!
The only problem is, lets face it: who drinks moderately? Sensible people do, granted, but most people just binge drink on the weekend.
And I’m not passing moral judgement because, although regularly partying into the twilight hours isn’t necessarily great for our health (or waist line), it kind of brings to mind feelings best expressed by that famous quote:
“You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred.” – Woody Allen
But here’s an idea. What if you could live to be a hundred and do all the things that make to want to live to be a hundred too? Well, that’s where Lifehack comes in.
The following guide, if applied on days that you consume alcohol, will help you minimize the negative side effects, namely weight gain and the host of metabolic disorders that accompany it.
Why Does Binge Drinking Make Us Fat?
Alchohol, contains 7.1 calories per gram.
If you didn’t know this, it’s not because you’re ignorant. It’s never listed on the nutritional label. Think that a low fat, low carb diet coke and vodka has no calories? Think again. But don’t worry, there’s a silver lining. The calories from alcohol don’t actually store as body fat.
You’re body places consumed alcohol high on its metabolic priority list (it is a poison after all) and while this helps sober us up in time for work the next day, it has an unfortunate drawback.
Consuming alcohol shuts down the regular fat burning processes going on in our body. So on the days that we drink, the food that we eat is much more likely to be stored as body fat. Not such a silver lining after all—unless you follow this guide of course.
Alcohol Damage Control Guide
Here’s the deal.
Follow these 4 steps for the entirety of the days that you drink. That means you should do it even before you start drinking. If you do this, you don’t have to worry whatsoever about the amount of alcohol you consume with regards to weight gain, cause you won’t gain any.
But of course, there are other health risks associated with acute excessive alcohol consumption, so by all means have fun, but know your limits.
1. Eat unlimited lean protein.
chicken breast on a plate
Protein is the most satiating macronutrient, so it’ll keep your cravings at bay throughout the day. It also has a TEF of 20-30% meaning that 20-30% of the calories contained in protein are used up just in your body’s processing of them.
You don’t need to hold back here. Eat as much as you like, but it has to be lean! Some good examples are: turkey, grilled chicken, cottage cheese, tuna, and protein powder.
2. Eat unlimited green vegetables.
Head of Broccoli
You’ll need to keep your carbohydrate and fat intake low on the days you drink. But it’s important that you get your micronutrients and fiber in. Green vegetables are the perfect food for this job. They’re low in calories and high in fiber. This will help you stay satiated throughout the day and regulate blood sugar swings.
You don’t want to eat 20 huge plates of veg (who does that?) because the small amount of carbs would add up; instead, just put a big serving alongside each portion of meat/protein you eat and you’ll be good to go.
A few smart, good choices are: spinach, kale, broccoli, cabbage and sprouts. Throw some spices on for flavor.
3. Drink low carb alcohol.
three glasses of wine
If beer is your poison of choice, then things get a little more complicated. There’s about 1,600 calories in 8 pints of beer. That’s about the same as a 14 inch thick crust pizza, but no where near as filling.
You can get away with this if you do weight training earlier that day. But if you’re not actively trying to gain muscle mass, then you’ll have to limit your drinking to once a week and stick to a strict diet for the remainder of it. Of course if you drink a bottle or two here and there, which would be classed as moderate, then you don’t need to worry about it.
The best sources of low carb alcohol are:
Spirits like vodka, gin, and clear rum combined with a zero calorie mixer such as diet coke would be ideal. Dry white wines are also great, but less practical to drink on nights out.
4. Do not eat out!
kebab house at night
This should seem obvious, but it’s so important that it needs reminding.
Write this on your hand if you have to: whatever happens do not eat out after you leave the nightclub. Of course, if you buy a chicken salad without the dressing somewhere, that’s fine. But resist the temptation to eat any meals that aren’t part of the alcohol damage control guide!
When we’re drunk we tend to lose sight of consequences and give into short term gratification.
A good solution would be to prepare a midnight meal for when you get home.
A little tip if you happen to suffer from hangovers: squeeze one whole lemon into a pint of water when you wake up. This will hydrate you faster than anything.
This guide is a minimalist damage control guide. It will essentially limit the negative side effects of excessive drinking. It’s the one my clients and I follow, and it really works.
That said, If you are an athlete or someone actively trying to get shredded for a competition, there are other resources that offer more in-depth guidance on the subject.