Damage Control Guide

Damage Control Guide

December Damage Control Guide: Alcohol

The silly season is upon us which generally means a lot of good times to be had catching up with family and friends, parties and lots opportunities for a social drink…or 10. Here are some tips for approaching a time which for most people usually entails a lot of extra alcohol consumption without it accumulating around your waistline.
Remember gram for gram alcohol contains almost twice as much calories as carbohydrates or protein and almost as much as a gram of fat.

1) Choose lower calorie beverages. Here are some general calorie contents of commonly consumed drinks:
– Pint of beer or cider = ~200 Calories
– Glass (175mL) of wine = ~160 Calories
– Measure of spirits = ~70 Calories
– Measure of spirits + sugary mixer (e.g. Vodka and Coke) = ~180 Calories
– Cocktail – 150 to 250 Calories depending on the ingredients.
So as you can see, depending on what your choice of drink is, you can very quickly rack up a huge amount of calories on a typical night’s drinking. The best bet from a calorie standpoint is to go for spirits and low calorie mixers such as gin and slimline tonic or vodka and diet coke and don’t make beers and sugary cocktails the basis of your drinking choices. And then there’s the 4am kebab and chips, which brings us onto tip number 2…

2) Avoid the delicious salty, greasy thing. This is where a lot of the excess calories that’ll push you into gaining fat come from, it’s the end of the night, you’re hungry because your blood sugar is low and craving something salty (and usually fatty) because you’re low on minerals and electrolytes, again, alcohol induced. So you can easily add on another 500-1000 Calories in McDonalds at the end of the night, combine that with he booze you might have had earlier and some people will easily be at their daily limit just from food and drinks on the night. So this is a big one to nail if you’re trying to mitigate the potential damage, if you must have something, have something small and preferably a source of protein, like a burger vs just chips, or dare I say it, a protein bar?

3) Plan for and account for the boozing, this is a big one. If you know you have a night coming up, which you usually do, then plan for it in the coming days. Reducing your fat and carbohydrate consumption for a few days beforehand will allow you ‘save’ some calories for the night itself so it doesn’t end up putting you in a massive calorie surplus. Then on the day stick to mostly lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, legumes – foods that are filling and satiating and nutritious without offering a big calorie bang. This is a simple one to implement and can make a huge difference if you have the awareness to do it.

4) Don’t let the recovery day do you in Hydrate before you go to bed (we love to use the Nuun electrolyte tabs), sleep in and show some restraint on ordering eighteen Dominos pizzas the next day. It helps to have some decent food already prepared ahead of the hangover so that you can eat that without having to move from the foetal position for too long to cook something for yourself. If you’re too written off and only the sound of the doorbell signalling food is here will cheer you up then make some smarter choices, a Chinese, Thai or Indian takeaway with meat, vegetables and rice or even fish and chips will do more for you than a large pizza and wedges and cookies.

So implement some of these practices and you’ll be able to really enjoy all the fun to be had this month without waking up in January wondering where it all went so horribly wrong!

by Bodyfirst nutritionist Brian Ó HÁonghusa