Can you maintain your fitness while drinking? | Main Stand

Fitness and alcohol are polar opposites. One strengthens the body while the other impairs it. However, in real life, sometimes social requirements and parties are unavoidable.


So, can we make exercising and drinking get along?

Main Stand will shed light on different techniques, from choosing drinks wisely to how to drink while minimizing effects on your health. This will ensure a fit and healthy body while not missing out on any social events. 


Choosing the right drinks

The fundamental logic behind working out is to burn calories to reach adequate levels for your body. However, alcohol consumption is an excess calorie intake. In order to make your fitness work count, it is important to choose beverages with the least amount of calories.

The standard amount of calories in alcohol reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is 7 kilocalories per gram.

Here are the amounts of calories in some of the popular alcoholic beverages.

Beer: A hometown favorite. Beer will usually have around 200 kilocalories per 12 ounces (About 354 milliliters or 1 can). However, ‘light beer’ has a lower alcohol percentage and contains roughly half the amount of calories per serving. 
However, in small amounts, beer also has some nutritional value. It contains Selenium (antioxidant), Vitamin B, Phosphorus (strengthens bones and teeth), and Niacin (aids in burning calories). Furthermore, beer also contains protein, fiber, and silicon which help prevent osteoporosis. Overall, having a beer a day is not a bad thing, but the hardest thing is to stop at one beer.

Wine: The usual serving is a singular glass of wine is 4 ounces (about 118 milliliters) which contains around 100 kilocalories for red wine and 90 kilocalories for white wine. However, the amount of calories varies with the sweetness of the wine. Therefore the best wine for fitness enthusiasts is white wine with the least amount of sugar.
Similar to beer, wine also has some health benefits. Research from the University of Nebraska and the University of Florida shows that Ellagic acid, which is found in grapes, reduces growth in fat cells and aids in stimulating cell growth, which helps with the metabolism of fatty acids in the liver. With these benefits, having a glass or two of wine is not always a bad thing.

Whiskey: Normally whiskey has a 40% alcohol concentration and is around 80-100 kilocalories per 1.5 ounces (about 44 milliliters or 1 shot glass) But the norm for Thai people is to have whiskey with ‘mixers,’ which can have massive amounts of calories, such as soft drinks. Therefore the best option for drinking whiskey for fitness is without mixers, or with soda water which contains no calories.

Vodka: Another popular drink, but a difficult one to quantify. Vodka has different alcohol concentrations depending on the different brands, but commonly will be around 90-120 kilocalories per 1.5 ounces.

From the information gathered, we can conclude that beer and wine are the best options for fitness enthusiasts who wish to join social events. Nonetheless, no matter the kind of alcoholic beverage, too much consumption is harmful to the body. 


Don’t gym when drunk

Even if you limit your drinking at social events in order to work out, what you must never do is work out while drunk or hungover.

“If you are still feeling weak and slightly tipsy, it’s best to take a rest day instead of potentially falling on your run or dropping a weight on yourself,” Micheal Richardson, MD at Boston-based One Medical, explains.

“Many people are aware of the common effects of alcohol, such as flushing of the skin, impairment of judgment and coordination, and gastrointestinal problems. What people are less aware of is the strain it puts on the cardiovascular system. It can cause high blood pressure, and chronic heavy alcohol use can lead to heart failure.”

“The more likely risk that results from working out after a heavy night of drinking is still being impaired when you go to the gym. Dehydration and muscle fatigue are the most common results of a big night out. Even if you feel fine, it is important to make sure you are well hydrated before you exercise to prevent muscle cramping or passing out.”

Furthermore, people tend to have slower reaction times when experiencing hangovers, as their bodies are still recovering from alcohol intake. This may cause accidents during exercise and is another key reason to avoid working out after drinking. 


Techniques to stay fit for drinkers

The best solution for maintaining good fitness is to have a clear schedule of when you plan to drink and what day you visit the gym, with no overlap in the schedules.

However, we understand that life is not that simple, and maintaining a set schedule is almost impossible in some professions. But this does not mean you can’t maintain both your fitness and your social life.

Here is where a few little techniques come in handy. Some of the tactics are:

1. If possible, exercise should come before drinking. There is also research showing beer and wine has effects on the release of endorphins (happiness hormone), therefore rewarding yourself after exercising with a can of beer or a glass of wine could be good motivation for the next session.

2. During parties, alternating between alcohol and water will help reduce alcohol consumption and prevent hangovers.

3. After a night out the body will feel hungry and crave high-calorie foods. Preparing a healthy meal for later could make a huge difference.

These are some tips and advice for those who wish to work out and get fit, but are not ready to abandon their social life. However, all this depends on personal discipline. No matter what fundamentals you learn or helpful advice you receive, if you do not exert self-control, all efforts will be in vain. All your hard work perfecting your body could dissipate if you don’t drink responsibly.  




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