1870 Mag

The Science Of Alcohol And Fitness

Crack open some cold hard facts on how your drinking habits could be inhibiting your fitness gains.

If there’s anything college students love, it’s binge drinking. Tough day? A glass of wine and a bubble bath it is. Your soon-to-be ex won’t stop Snapchatting Brittany from chemistry? SHOTS, ladies. Crazy girlfriend? Crack open a cold one with the boys.

We always have an excuse to drink. Unfortunately, I’m here to deliver some bad news. When you booze, you definitely lose.

When you’re in your early 20s—because no Buckeye under the age of 21 has ever tasted alcohol—it’s easy to brush those nights off. However, Columbus nutritionist and dietician Lindsey Mathes warns us “all the decisions that you make today are somehow going to affect you and the more you do something, you’re creating habits for life.”

Our drinking habits do have effects on every aspect of our lives—present and future. And though a single glass of red wine does pose some health benefits, drinking is actually a lot worse on our bodies than we think.

What’s going on inside?

Essentially, alcohol is a toxin. After a single night of drinking, it takes our livers nearly one hour to process a single ounce of alcohol –– so for some perspective, multiply that by the three beers and two shots you had last Tuesday. When we drink, our bodies literally stop everything to get those poisons out.

Depending on what you’re drinking, the amount of calories you’re consuming varies. However, Mathes tells us that every calorie we consume through alcohol is empty. Not only does your alcohol consumption interfere with your digestion, but it also leaves your body with less nutrients than it started with.

Over time, those nights of excessively drinking away unnecessary calories are going to catch up to you, and so are those delicious Apollo’s mozzarella sticks you convinced yourself you needed to avoid the hangover. I’m sorry to say it, but with habits like these, you’ll definitely be adding on a few extra pounds. 

Sleep is for the weakor the sober.

Little did you know, staying up drinking till 4 a.m. is also terrible for your sleeping  habits. Though alcohol can make us pretty drowsy, Mathes says it can prevent us from reaching our deep stages of sleep, too. Even though you’ve been passed out till 2 p.m., I can promise you it wasn’t the best night’s sleep.

Add that to your hangover and Mathes says you’ve got a “double-whammy.”

Your hangover doesn’t help either.

We all know what it’s like waking up after a night out. You’re groggy, hungry, thirsty and want that one-night stand you can’t remember bringing home to wake up and leave.

When you wake up with a hangover, you’re bound to spend the day on the couch with UberEats pulled up searching for the greasiest food imaginable. However when you’re trying to keep up with your New Year’s resolution, going to the gym is going to be hard. After a night of drinking, your energy levels are at a minimum –– goodbye RPAC, hello fourth cheat meal of the week!

So what alcohol is “healthier?”

Nothing is really healthy. The only big difference between beer, liquor and wine? Timing. For the most part, going for a beer or glass of wine means you’re sipping on your drink for a longer period of time, which slows you down. However, Mathes says drinking a cocktail is usually a quicker process –– resulting in more drinks and adding up to even more calories.

“When we drink spirits, we’re intaking alcohol in a more concentrated form, she added. So with two to three shots of liquor in every mixed drink, you’re getting the equivalent of about two or three glasses of wine.”

At the end of the day, Mathes says, “Alcohol is alcohol.”

At this age, it’s easy to change up our routines for the better, and our drinking habits are a good place to start. “The takeaway is recognizing that all choices are going to impact your life in some way,” Mathes says. “And now is the time where you want to create those good habits that are going to carry you through.”

Tips for success:

Beer and wine are always a safer option

Avoid high-sugar cocktails. Moscow mules and pre-made margaritas are a big no-no when you’re watching your calories. Mathes’ go-to drink? Tequila, Grand Marnier, a lot of fresh lime juice and a splash of water. Avoid the sugars and go for something similar to a margarita with a lot less sweetness.

Clear liquors DO make a difference in your hangover. Mathes suggests opting for vodka with soda water, a splash of cranberry and a lime wedge, or tequila with soda water, grapefruit and a lime wedge.

Go out of your way to have a glass of water between drinks –– this will help you slow down your drinking and prevent a major hangover.

If you’re finding yourself drinking at least three to five times a week, and drinking between five and seven drinks each night, Mathes suggests a major cut back.

This might be difficult to hear, but you really don’t have to blackout because Chad from Phi Psi dared you to.

Seven low-calorie drinks for going out:

  1. Natty Light: 95 calories
  2. Champagne: 84 calories,
  3. Rum and (Diet) Coke: 85 calories
  4. Vodka Soda: 97 calories
  5. Gin and (Diet) Tonic: 115 calories
  6. Tequila and soda with lime: 95 calories
  7. Bud Light: 110 calories

Ghezal Barghouty

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