Ah yes, the two best words to hear, only second to “Pay Day.” Can we agree that we all appreciate a quick trip to our favourite pub or wine cellar to help us unwind after a day’s ordeal? A nightcap here and there sounds like a lovely way to get through the week, but does drinking alcohol make us fat? I am a big fan of the single malt Scotch (anyone who knows me well can tell you that), love my red wine, and can appreciate well-made craft beer. But I wanted to understand exactly what alcohol does to my diet and my body so that I can enjoy my drink better (and occasionally without too much guilt) on the days I decide to indulge.
Burn, baby burn.
Alcohol is regarded as the fourth macronutrient but is considered by nutritionists as empty calories (calories without nutrition). You know the whole “calories in, calories out” phrase? That doesn’t apply much to alcohol. Because it’s an empty calorie, when you consume alcohol, it’s the first thing your body will burn as fuel, but since it’s empty, there’s no nutrition there for your body to absorb. And as you burn the alcohol, you will not burn fat along with it. Even though some people feel more awake or energised when they drink, alcohol doesn’t actually get stored up as glycogen (energy) in the body. FYI, alcohol in it’s purest form is ethyl alcohol and has seven calories per gram and may produce some energy when consumed. But I wouldn’t even consider it in the same ranks of a pre workout or an energy drink. Perhaps because it’s got a sedative effect that helps loosen inhibition, people attribute that liquid courage to their moonshine’s perceived energising abilities.
Liver let die.
Almost any time your fondness for alcohol is brought up, someone is bound to tell you to take it easy on your liver. And you really would do well to pay mind to your liver because it works overtime anytime you hit up the 2-for-1 drink promo hours. Your liver looks at any alcoholic byproduct as toxins and will signal your body to stop absorbing and processing nutrients for the nonce while it deals with these infiltrators. Like previously mentioned, your body then ends up burning these empty calories, these Trojan horses, if you will, that come in looking and tasting good but bring nothing good for you. Meanwhile, the precious nutrients you should be getting are pushed to the wayside. When it finally comes time to burning the food you eat along with your drinks (because really, what’s happy hour without the bar chow?), your body might not be needing that energy anymore. What happens? You store the extra calories as fat.
Shaken or stirred.
“But Hilary,” you might be thinking, “don’t be such a kill joy! I need my drink!” Calm yourself, pet. I need my drink too. Just because we are in the business of fitness and bodybuilding doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a good nip at the bar. There are definitely wiser options for your alcoholic needs. You can skip the sugary cocktails (and anyway, what’s a gorgeous, tattooed hunk like you doing with an Appletini in your hand in the first place? Put that down!) and opt for a vodka or a wine. I’m not a huge vodka fan myself but recently I was impressed with a concoction this bartender made especially for me. My best friend stole me away to a speakeasy and explained to the bartender that I was particular about my calories. He puts his silver-ringed, tattooed arm up and said, “say no more, beautiful.” He comes back with a vodka infused with salt solution and fresh-squeezed lemon. That’s it. It was delicious, refreshing, and caused me to question what kind of sorcery that was. Am I now a fan of vodka? Maybe. We’ll see. Unless other bartenders can replicate that drink, I think I’ve found my new watering hole in the heart of Makati (And if you know me, I abhor driving to Makati). But maybe I’ll do it for love or that magical vodka recipe.
And don’t go whining about how men don’t drink wine. You’ll be surprised how many women appreciate a man who is secure enough to order and enjoy a glass or so of a good red. Plus, red wine has loads of benefits for our body (it contains antioxidants!), but that will be another blog post.
The point is not to avoid drinking alcohol because let’s face it, we all need a stiff one after a hard day. Do as you please. But everything in moderation. The mixers could be your nemesis too because they either use soda or sugary fruit juice. I hear you though, once in a while you just want to let loose. Maybe I’ll do one good night of whisky out of two or three weeks of healthy eating and fit living. You can afford it that way. Your best move would be to build a foundation of healthy eating (loads of lean protein, good fats, tons of veggies), acting living, and proper hydration.
That way, you can enjoy Happy Hour completely untethered by guilt or misinformation.
Salud! Kampai! Prost!
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