Binge drinking happens, especially if you are at university or play for a sport teams. This doesn’t make you any less dedicated to your training and diet- a lot of us enjoy social drinking- working towards a health and fitness or aesthetic goal doesn’t mean you should have to be teetotal.
A few casual drinks can easily be built into your diet, as explained in our article HERE but there are times when 1 drink turns into 5, turns into photos of you on the local statue with a traffic cone on your head.
A few things you should know
We all end up getting messy a few times a year, but;
- 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
Anyway, ring of fire anyone?
Before your night out
If you know you’re going for a night out, don’t massively 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! 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 before 10PM.
If possible, have a proper meal around 2 hours 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 on an empty stomach gets you pissed quickly; that’s because a higher quantity of alcohol is absorbed through the stomach lining, directly 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 mates piss or vomit – best check what they put in My Fitness Pal for their last meal)
If the calories alone in a double vodka red bull didn’t put you off, there are a few things you should know. Alcohol and caffeine both affect your CNS (central nervous system); 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 within the body each other is not fully understood with studies producing conflicting data, although we doubt there will be much good news that comes of it. But we do know that caffeine reduces perceived inebriation, often leading you to drink more, meaning you ingest more calories. More calories means more fat gains.
After you’ve left the pub or club and your stomach is rumbling, chances are your body has enough energy from all those drinks; your stomach just feels empty as you haven’t eaten for a few hours. While we are not saying ‘don’t eat’ after drinking, avoid eating a lot of calorie dense junk food, high in fat such chips, burgers and donner kebabs, as alcohol decreases fax oxidation for over 24 hours post consumption. We will 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 – a pint or two should be enough. And when you finally crawl 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 though?
Unfortunately not. Alcohol disrupts up our normal sleep physiology 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?
So when you do finally get up make sure to drink another pint or two of water, and a mug of green tea or coffee might make you feel a bit more alive. When you feel you can hold down food, try to consume a reasonably healthy breakfast high in protein with moderate amounts of fats and carbs.
As a rule of thumb – your body can process one 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 your hangover is going to last!
As for training…
If you can muster yourself to face the day, some LISS cardio will help ease your hangover as it temporarily speeds up your metabolism, therefore allowing your body to digest more of the remaining alcohol in a shorter period of time.
Weights or HIIT? We wouldn’t recommend doing either until you are sober again. With your lack of decent nutrition over the last 12 hours and inability to push yourself during your workout for fear of being sick, you are better off hitting these later, rather than sooner in the day.
And remember; don’t drive until you are back under the legal drink-drive limit.