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Summertime….ahh, lounging by the beach or the pool, soakin up some rays and maybe doing so with that nice cold beer, margarita or drink of your choice. Maybe this guy to the left is the life of the party and dropping off drinks for everyone. You’re relaxed and feeling good. Ok, stop drooling and get rid of that image. Replace it instead with one where each drink you have creates a nice little bodyfat addition to your stomach, or your thighs, or buns, or your arms. Hmm, all of a sudden that drink doesn’t sound too appeasing does it??
Having an occasional drink is not a problem as long as it doesn’t interfere with your lifestyle or your fitness goals. In fact, numerous studies have always toted the positive effects of a glass of red wine on heart health. Namely the antioxidants such as flavonoids and polyphenols help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart and increase the levels of your “good” cholesterol. However, you’ve got to remember that alcohol is still packed with calories (7 calories per gram rather than the carbohyrdrate norm of 4), empty calories devoid of anything nutritious for your body, and can be a hidden killer to achieving that tight and toned physique you’re looking for.
Normally, your body breaks down carbohydrates and fats first for energy and occasionally will use protein as well (though not a good source). However, when Mr. Alcohol comes along, it actually cuts in line and gets broken down first. Alcohol molecules can penetrate the stomach wall within seconds of arriving and reach the brain and liver in no time. Finally it arrives to the liver to have the glucose molecules processed. As a toxin, your liver works overtime and devotes all energy to metabolizing the alcohol. This creates a notable insulin spike in your body and leads to not only these molecules but other Fat and Carb molecules being whisked away and stored as body fat. Yummy.
Alcohol can make you moody and affect your emotions in startling ways….usually none of them good. In fact, although alcohol starts off as a mild stimulant in your body due to decreased inhibitions, feeling of euphoria, etc. it will soon give way to a depressive state. This is all bad for your fitness goals. Do you really think that after a couple drinks you will have any desire to exercise that day? Or even the next day for that matter if you don’t feel well?
Add to that the decreased inhibitions towards food, occasional increase in appetite and you’re making quite a deadly cocktail (no pun intended.) Ever wake up the next day after a cocktail party and realize that you ate the entire appetizer platter? (no? me neither I swear.) Not only will you normally overeat when you have a drink but you will also choose the worst foods. This eventually leads to you starting to pinch your belly and talking to it like a person (like our gentlemen to the right).
Alcohol is also a diuretic just like caffeine and that precious coffee you drink every morning. This means you lose water more frequently from your body which means a loss of good vitamins, minerals and nutrients which can cause dehydration, muscle spasms, cramps and most definitely nausea and dizziness during a workout as well.
Contrary to popular belief, liquor is not better for you nor does it carry zero calories. Liquor carries on average around 100 calories per shot. Plus, as it is usually mixed with other drinks it contains even more calories (e.g. juice, soft drinks, etc.) If you want to kill at least some of the calories go for a diet or club soda.
Take a good look at the chart below and keep an eye on those cals the next time you have a drink. Pay special attention to the QUANTITY!