- If alcohol were to be categorised the same way as drugs currently are, it would be considered a class A
- Out of around 30 of the most popular recreational drugs, alcohol is rated as the 5th most damaging to health (above ecstasy and marijuana)
- There are between 10,000-15,000 alcohol related deaths in the UK each year
Then one person dies from DMAA and it gets banned.
Anyway, on to what you really want to know…
Before your night out
If you know you’re going for a night out, don’t reduce your eating throughout the day to try and ‘bank’ calories for later – this would mean your body misses out on proper nutrition during the day as well as the night! Just take the calorie hit on the chin; drinking after a day of little to eat increases your chances of binging on junk at the end of the night, or being shoved in a taxi home at 21:30 after 3 drinks.
If possible, have a proper meal around 90 minutes before you start drinking. This will give your body time to digest this food, while not leaving you drinking on an empty stomach. We all know drinking alcohol on an empty stomach gets you pissed quickly; that’s because on an empty stomach, alcohol is absorbed through the lining, straight into the blood.
During your night out
It never hurts to forgo a round and have a water or soft drink instead. But you probably won’t, so onto the stuff you want to know about alcohol.
Alcohol is very high in calories – at 7Kcal per gram, making it almost as energetically dense as fat at 9Kcal per gram. One unit of alcohol measures to 10ml (weighing approx. 8g due to its density).
Doing a bit of maths, 1 unit of alcohol contains 56Kcal.
But that’s not it! You’ve to add in all the other ingredients in the drink!
So a quick order of (generally) least to most calorific alcoholic beverages:
Spirits < spirit with low calorie mixer < wines < sparkling wines & champagne < spirits with 200ml sugary mixer < light beers < dark beers/ales/stout/bitter < cider < alcopops < double spirit & red bull
|330ml bottle diet alcopop||90-120|
|330ml bottle larger||100-130|
|Double gin and slimline tonic||115|
|Double vodka and diet mixer||115-125|
|Double vodka, lime and soda||130|
|Small glass of wine||110-130|
|Small glass of champagne/sparkling wine||130-140|
|Large glass of wine||170-190|
|Double vodka coke||175|
|Double gin and tonic||175|
|330ml bottle alcopop||180-220|
|Double vodka and half can of red bull||280-300|
Cocktails all have different ingredients, but they will be more calorific the more measures of spirits they contain or if mixed with a sugary mixer/fruit juice.
(And rugby players, I am afraid I have no idea how many calories are in your urine or vomit.)
If the calories alone in a double vodka red bull didn’t put you off, this might. Alcohol mixed with sugar and caffeine is a recipe for disaster with your body and hormones. Alcohol is a depressant whereas caffeine is a stimulant, and they don’t just cancel each other out. The chemistry of how they both interact with each other is not fully understood, although I doubt there will be any good results that come of it. But we do know caffeine reduces ones perceived inebriation, leading one to drink more and that alcohol supresses the body’s testosterone production while increases oestrogen production, caffeine reduces insulin sensitivity, as does large amounts of sugar – which also increases oestrogen production. So it’s already looking like a one way ticket to a sad body.
After you’ve left the pub or club and your stomach is rumbling, chances are your body has enough energy from all those drinks, it just feels empty as you haven’t eaten for a few hours. While I’m not saying ‘don’t eat’ after drinking, avoid eating a lot – especially calorie dense junk food, high in fat such chips, burgers and donner kebabs. The body perceives alcohol as a toxin (poison) so its immediate priority is to break it down and remove it, leading to improper digestion of fats and carbohydrates – these end up being stored as body fat. Stick with lean, protein based foods such as a chicken shish kebab.
After your night out
When you finally get home or wherever you end up staying, drink some water. It will help dilute any alcohol left in your digestive tract and re-hydrate you. Be sensible about it though – don’t go drinking so much that you wet the bed.
When you do finally get into bed (assuming you’ve not pulled or had too many vodka red bulls), you end up asleep before you know it. That’s a good thing, right?
Wrong. Alcohol messes up our ‘sleep architecture’ (article coming soon..) so we spend less time in the stages of deep sleep which are vital to feeling well rested and hormone regulation. So take the chance to sleep in longer in if you can, and while I’m not telling you to skip that 9am lecture – are you really going to take in anything the lecturer says?
When you do finally get up, make sure to drink 0.5-1L of water, a multivitamin and some green tea. When you feel you can hold down food, try to consume a reasonably healthy breakfast. Personally, I would go for a few rounds of bacon and egg sandwiches on granary, since bacon is scientifically proven to help cure a hangover http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/5118283/Bacon-sandwich-really-does-cure-a-hangover.html
Your body can process, on average, 1 unit of alcohol per hour. So if you can and add up how many units you had the night before, you can work out how long that hangover is going to last.
As for training
Light cardio an hour or two after you get up can help ease your hangover or work off the guilt/shame from the previous night, but I wouldn’t recommend doing weights until the late afternoon/evening. You aren’t going to have a good workout, nor build any muscle with the lack of nutrition over the last 12 hours.