Nothing is bad in moderation. You can eat that cheese, sip that wine, hit that whisky. Where most of us go wrong, is when we lose sight of our health and fitness goals and blame a hard day for the fourth drink. Enough is written about how red wine is good for your heart, and how a couple of whisky drams a day help you age well. But what is your strategy for mixing alcohol with health goals? Are you going cold turkey, or do you want to leave room for a few drinks here and there. We help you strategise.
Is alcohol making you fat, or are there other culprits? In the short run, it is not the alcohol that adds to your waistline. It is what you mix the alcohol with. Yes, binge drinking is severely frowned upon, but alchol by itself wouldn't be half bad (in balanced measures), if you didn't mix it with artificially flavoured, syrup-laden, juices and aerated drinks. So if you like a couple of drinks every other day, be sure to mix it with water, some low-carb natural mixer, or just have it on the rocks.
Here are calorie counts for popular liquors:
- Gin or vodka and tonic =126
- Dark rum and coke =142
- Medium glass of white wine (175ml) =130
- Medium glass of red wine (175ml) =120
- 5% Lager (pint) =240-50
- Stout (pint) =210
- Brandy (50ml) =110
- Whiskey (25ml) =55
But is it only about the calories? Of course when we talk about vices, it's never as simple as low calorie counts. Alcohol causes spikes in blood sugar levels. This results in immediate crashes as well, resulting in intense hunger. That's when the chips, peanuts and club food take over, and you pile on nothing less than 1500 calories in one evening. Another long-term ill effect is that of digestion priority. Your body prioritises alcohol over other intake (carbs, protein, fat). Therefore, when you binge drink, you're telling your body to store the food you eat (hello weight gain), while dealing with the alcohol.
So what can you do? Doctors place the range of daily permitted alcohol intake at 1-3 units. Which side of the scale you are on depends on your weight, fitness levels, gender, and general health. Several studies have reported Europeans as regular wine, whisky and brandy drinkers who face little to no ill-effects.
Here are some simple strategies to enjoy alcohol the healthy way, when out clubbing:
- Avoid fried food like wafers, fries etc. like the plague.
- Do not indulge in peanuts. They’re addictive and extremely sinful thanks to all the excessive salt content making them a lethal combination.
- Gorge on Tandoori/grilled stuff like tikkas, kebabs etc. Avoid gravy dishes.
- Snack on a plate of boiled chic peas (chana) with cut onion and cucumber. If that’s not available ask for a green salad consisting of carrots, cucumber, beets radish and broccoli.
- If the place you’re going to has more options at hand ask for a plate of hummus with some whole wheat pita bread. Not only is that filling but it’s low on calories as well.
- Mix alcohol with water, ice, or natural juice (tomato juice is a good option.
- Avoid aerated mixers.
- Drink a glass of water in between drinks.
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