Many adults indulge in at least one alcoholic beverage for various reasons. Whether beer or hard cider or wine or liquor or cocktails, whether socially or frequently, there are as many choices as drinkers. There is a lot of debate about the effects of drinking alcohol.[i] For example, based on many studies, there are physicians who now claim that there are positive benefits to having an occasional or daily glass of wine.[ii] But they also say that any benefits come when you drink in small to moderate quantities.[iii] A new study claims that exercise can even undo some of the damage done by alcohol, within limits.[iv] No matter what side the studies come down on, they all conclude that what matters in how alcohol affects your health is what you drink and how much of it. Fourteen drinks can be 1) one per day for two weeks, or 2) seven drinks on Saturday and seven on Sunday of the same weekend. Big difference in effects on the body.
Not surprisingly, many people have misinterpreted the studies and understood the recommendations to mean that vodka, rum, cognac and other types of alcoholic beverages provide similar benefits to wine. “On doctors’ orders!” has become the perfect excuse to overindulge, especially during the holidays.
Drinking too heavily or too often, - overindulgence – is one thing and causes its own problems. But, managing your consumption of alcohol is especially important when the individual’s weight-loss goals are being compromised. If we have a better understanding of how alcohol inhibits progress in shedding pounds, we can take informed action in dealing with – and getting rid of – frustration that comes with being stuck at a certain number for too long.
The Math of drinking or, Count your calories!
The buzz is what people seek, but it’s the calories that will do you in. Knowing the caloric value of alcohol is critical. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in the U.S. finds that a 12-ounce can of beer contains 100 calories.[v] [vi] On the other hand, 1.5 ounces of whisky, rum, tequila, and other stronger drinks carry roughly 150 calories. Let’s do the math. One shot contains approximately (1) liquid ounce. On a typical evening of drinking, someone who’s an enthusiastic drinker may consume 6-7 shots of alcohol. That is easily 600-700 alcoholic calories consumed from shots alone in one evening. Assuming that you have eaten a decent meal before imbibing alcohol, and will need to eat again afterwards, chances are, you have now surpassed your allotted caloric intake for the day.
Not all calories are the same. Here is some information that many fitness enthusiasts may not be aware of:
In short, alcohol calories are what nutritionists call excess or empty calories. They take up space in your daily caloric intake, but you get nothing back in return, and they may even take your hard-earned results away.
What happens to your body when you drink alcohol?
Let us explore the metabolism of alcohol, or how the substance breaks down in our bodies.
When you consume an alcoholic beverage, about 20-25% of the alcohol is absorbed in your bloodstream immediately. The rest travels to your small intestine and makes its way into your bloodstream. From there, it heads toward your liver for metabolism.
The liver is where the most important action takes place. When you drink alcohol, you give the liver extra work to do. A healthy body flushes out roughly 1 oz of alcohol per hour. If you consume more than this amount of alcohol, saturation will occur.
Calories are not your biggest problem though. The liver is also the main site where fat is broken down. Until the liver has time to process and remove the alcohol in your system, the body’s fat-burning capacity also ceases. Because alcohol has no nutritional value, the body cannot store it. And since the body recognizes alcohol as a toxin, the liver prioritizes the breakdown of alcoholic substances before other nutrients. After you drink, your body’s primary goal is to get rid of this toxin as soon and as efficiently as possible.
This fact is fundamental to weight loss and is a key reason why the struggle to lose weight can appear almost never-ending and desperate at times. Let me say it again: the more alcohol you drink, the longer the body takes to remove the alcohol, and the longer your body takes to get back to your priority – fat burning. The very thing that you want to speed up during and after your workout – fat burning – actually shuts down when you drink alcohol.
And that’s not all, alcohol increases one’s appetite as well as suppresses testosterone levels. While many people drink because of its effect as a stimulant, it is widely recognized that alcohol also acts as a depressant on the central nervous system. As a depressant, alcohol actually makes us eat more. The more foods we consume in the presence of alcohol in our body, the more likely those foods become stored as fat. This fat will not be metabolized until our bodies have disposed of the toxicity entirely. In other words, drinking alcohol cancel out the benefits of the healthy food you ate to “soak up” the drinks or as part of your regular diet.
Alcohol and sex do not mix very well. Drinking might embolden some men (stimulant), but it also has a negative effect on sexual performance. Alcohol subdues and impedes levels of testosterone production as well as impairs judgment, both of which lead to problems for both men and women.
If you are working on building a healthier, fitter body, drinking alcohol works against that.[vii] Consumption of alcohol slows down exercise capability, muscle strength; muscle development and can cause dehydration.[viii] It has been shown, that alcohol consumption has had negative effects on recovery. Studies show that there is significant increase in the amount of healing time of muscular injury or strain that comes with intensive workouts. Experiencing a prolonged DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness) effect, can be a message from your body that you should leave the alcohol alone.
Finally, be reminded that alcohol is a drug as defined by the World health organization (WHO). It is harmful to our vital digestive organs and physically wears them out. The strain that alcohol consumption puts on the body is under-recognized. Drinking alcohol prevents the body’s digestive system from functioning at its best, which in turn aids in weakening the immune system and increases the likelihood for liver diseases. Alcohol does not just expose us to avoidable health risks. As described earlier, drinking it also suppresses weight loss because of its ability to make us consume and store significantly more calories than normal.
Drinking alcohol, especially with friends after a hard workout, is very tempting and a lot of fun. However, we should also remember that alcohol is a toxin to the body. It possesses the ability to destroy vital digestive organs, inhibit testosterone production in men, and compromise muscular recovery and development.
If you are on a special diet to accompany your fitness routine, we recommend that you stay away from alcoholic beverages, especially if your goal is to lose weight. Given what you just learned about the substance and its ability to prevent you from achieving your full potential, we hope you will consider this information. Make informed choices and seek out nonalcoholic alternatives. You will not regret it. Cheers to good health and wellness!
[i] Celia Vimont, 2013 “Should Doctors Recommend Alcohol for Patients’ Health? Experts Debate.” December 13, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, http://www.drugfree.org/news-service/should-doctors-recommend-alcohol-for-patients-health-experts-debate/.
[ii] Mayo Clinic Staff 2016. “Alcohol: If you Drink, Keep It Moderate”, August 30. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/alcohol/art-20044551
[iii] Stanton Peele 2014. “the Truth We Won’t Admit: Drinking is Healthy” Pacific Standard, August 12. Retrieved from https://psmag.com/the-truth-we-won-t-admit-drinking-is-healthy-4d3c7b12fa9a - .y39916hzb
[iv]Susan Scutti 2016. “Exercise can cancel out booze, says study”, CNN Health, September 8. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/07/health/exercise-alcohol-and-death-risk/
vi] National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism 2016 “What’s a Standard Drink” National Institute of Health, Bethesda, Maryland. Retrieved from https://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/How-much-is-too-much/What-counts-as-a-drink/Whats-A-Standard-Drink.aspx.
[vii] Tim Gagne 2014 “How Does Alcohol Affect Your Athletic Performance?” September 23. Retrieved from http://Baystatecrossfit.Com/How-Does-Alcohol-Affect-Your-Athletic-Performance/
[viii] Matthew Barnes 2014. “Alcohol: Impact on Sports Performance and Recovery in Male Athletes” Sports Medicine July, Volume 44, Issue 7, pp 909–919. Retrieved from: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40279-014-0192-8
It’s time we started eating more sensibly.
The focus has shifted from not only needing to have a six pack to a serious yearning for that tapered waist-line, rounded glutes and sculpted shoulders and arms. So the focus is now on how to reduce visceral fat. Visceral fats are those that mainly cover vital organs, especially in the abdominal cavity. Persons who stress eat, have poor eating practices and participate in little or no exercising, are usually affected the most.
So how about we try to Stop-Think-Eat. Let us try, as hard as it may be, to give up some of the artery clogging foods for healthier alternatives. Let us try low sodium products. Let us try fresh fruits and vegetables. Let us try baking and steaming instead of frying. Let us try water, green smoothies and protein shakes instead of pop. Then at the end of the day we may not only achieve that desired body image but more importantly, we would have become healthier.
From time to time the topic of protein and its usefulness has much been discussed and recommended by fitness personnel, body builders, experts or just simple wannabes as that crucial nourishing substance that everyone must have. But, how much do we know about this great little nutrient? Many people talk a lot about protein, but only a few really understands it. What are proteins? Proteins are found to be the building blocks of muscle, skin and bone tissues and it is one of 3 essential nutrients used as energy (the other 2 are Carbohydrate and fat). Let it be known, that this document is only intended to speak from the POV of fitness professional and not as a scientist. It is also important to highlight that all information garnered were derived from empirical analyses undertaken by otherwise qualified individuals in the field of clinical nutrition. Additionally, the purpose of this paper is geared at exploring proteins as a significant agent or catalyst to weight management and fat loss.
Over the past two decades, scientists have revealed a greater comprehension of the power of protein and its abilities to constructively impact ones metabolism, body composition and overall health. As revealed by the experts, away from muscle building, one of the principal motives behind the consumption of a protein rich diet is for its ability to control and decrease body fat. Although, there are many different mechanisms involved in explaining body mass and fat loss, a major theme that emerges is that of metabolic activity or what many people refer to as thermogenesis. Scientists however, have taken this a step further when they explored different forms of proteins and their contributions to wellness and thermogenic activity. A study conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2007) observed a total of 23 lean and healthy individuals who consumed meals in a randomized manner. Three of the four meals were protein and consisted of 50% whey casein or soy along with 40% carbohydrate and 10% fat. Theother meal consisted of 95.5% carbohydrate with the remaining 4.5% being protein and fats. Additionally, all four meals were compared to a glucose only meal, which delivered the same amount of glucose as in protein meals. The study noted that after consuming the carbohydrate rich meals, minimal increases in thermogenic activity was observed within the subjects. However, the study finds that all 3 proteins yielded a significantly higher thermogenic effect than what occurred in the carbohydrates. When the three types of proteins were compared to each other, the Whey protein was found to have the best thermogenic response, with casein and soy following respectively.
As a final thought, the main finding of the study was that protein filled meals exhibited significantly greater thermogenic responses when compared to carbohydrate ingestion. Additionally, some types of proteins may garner greater thermogenic effects than others. What these results means to the average person is that, protein rich meals as a dietary choice, will promote a higher fat loss, will positively impact ones energy expenditure and allows for a more complete support in one’s endeavor to lose weight, maintain leanness and overall improved wellness.
Acheson KJ, Blondel-Lubrano A, Oguey-Araymon S et al. (2011) Protein Thermogenisis and metabolism
Pomegranates are a great addition your healthy meal plan. Nutritionists will agree that this fruit combats an expanse gamut of illnesses from high blood pressure to cancer. Pomegranates have been a part of the medicinal arsenal for eons. Studies have found this fruit containing antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, anti-carcinogenic and some have found antimicrobial benefits. Research also reveals that pomegranate extracts have triggered the death of both prostate and breast cancer cells. Additionally, the juice of this fruit has been linked to significant reduction of blood pressure in patients with borderline or hypertension. When the effects of pomegranates were observed on animals, it showed that it improved blood sugar levels and may also provide a great source of fiber.
Ancient roots to modern medicine
Journal of Medicinal Food
This is a serious issue. Recently I was reminded why I have lost my fondness for greeting people with a handshake. For instance, in the midst of a personal training session Clive noticed his client had fresh “nose booger” on his face and brought his attention to it. Instead of taking off to the restroom and addressing it, the client wiped his face with his training gloves, and then proceeded to wipe his hand on his shirt. Hmm, hygienic isn’t it? With all the diseases and new stains of viruses found these days, it is even more essential to pay close attention to our personal sanitation habits as we could easily contract unnecessary illnesses. In the situation above, luckily, Clive understands how crucial personal hygiene is, so by immediately addressing the situation, he minimized the potential for other people using the facility to contract an undeserved illness.
As simple as it may appear, one of the most efficient ways of preventing disease is by washing your hand regularly. Especially after sneezing, coughing, making contact with a sick person or after using the bathroom. Given the advances made in health care and disease prevention, it’s quite alarming that studies have found fewer Americans are scrubbing their hands compared to years ago. This practice ought to be automatic, and should be one of the primary things done and observed in homes fundamentally. But seemingly, many people need to be reminded to exercise personal hygiene practices on a regular basis. Always remember, hand washing should be done for 20-30 seconds with soap and water or as the alternative, portable hand sanitizers can be used, they are fairly inexpensive and readily available.
Ps. avoid touching your face when you are at the gym, it may protect you from catching germs…
Many of my clients openly admit to having a sweet tooth or suffer from some form of sugar addiction, which is perhaps the reason they have struggled in the past to achieve their weight-loss goals . As a trainer, it’s not only important to understand what one needs to do in order to benefit the most from certain exercises, but also understanding nutrition which is a foremost fundamental component of body transformation. Trainers are not nutritionists, but they should be armed with knowledge of how the system works that way, they’ll be better able to guide their clients to success. Luckily, there are scientists that do the leg work in helping us to better understand why our bodies work the way they do. There are many researches that suggest sugar stimulates our pleasure receptors, which can cause an addiction, as those feelings of pleasure are so good, one may try to unremittingly reproduce the feeling. A Princeton study once determined that rats living on a diet high in sugar exhibits signs of withdrawal after a short period deprived of the substance. It was also observed that, similar withdrawal symptoms are seen in humans living on high sugar diets as well.
Because so many people struggle with their sugar intake, I find that 9 out of 10 times the inability to control or limit their sugar binges is the most significant impediment to their weight loss goal. So then, in order to lower or limit sugar intake, perhaps the only progress one may make is embedded within altering their eating practices and slowly but steadily scratch sugary foods from their diet. We must remember that at the end of the day, everything adds up. The two cookies we had in the morning, the fruit juices that you are fooled into thinking are oh so healthy, but are laced with 28 grams of sugar or more, the cream we put in our coffee, sugary cereals, the list is endless. Many of these foods are tasty and immensely appealing to our taste buds (that’s what they do). Therefore to address this, we either have to begin cutting our servings in half to get started or find alternatives. For example, mixing plain yogurt with half a sweetened/fruit yogurt or having half the glass of fruit juice you would normally include in your diet. Another thing to bear in mind is that scientists find that artificial sweeteners can have the same fat loss inhibiting properties as regular sugar therefore, consumption of artificial sweeteners can be just as harmful.
Getting accustomed to this dietary change can be a huge challenge, but your body will adjust if you try to develop a cleaner habit of eating. In the end, you’ll enjoy improved well-being and stand a better chance of warding off illnesses relating to lack of dietary discipline.
In health and fitness, the main goal of many people is to lose weight and the most effective method of getting that done is by burning fat. So, if your primary objective is to burn fat, it is strongly recommended that intense interval training be a part of your regimen. In addition to being a fast way to getting in a great workout, interval trainings are found to be exceedingly valuable for transforming your figure (Duvall, 13). In recent times, flurries of workout infomercials have saturated the electronic media many of which are promoting high intensity workouts, the obvious catalyst for accelerated weight loss. Integrating intense sections of work with short recovery periods, allows you to maintain a high intensity at the same time as maintaining correct form. This is an excellent way to keep you burning fat even after your training session. As found by fitness enthusiast Duvall (13), the science behind this tell us that our bodies aren’t able to bring in enough oxygen during periods of hard work. Therefore, you accumulate a debt of oxygen that must be repaid post-workout in order to get back to normal. The result — your metabolism is revved for hours after you leave the gym.
Despite the fact that stretching won't strengthen your heart or make your stomach flat, it can help in attaining those goals more efficiently. Aerobic exercises and strength training need muscles that are in balance and work smoothly. This is where the relevance of stretching comes in -- as it complements the chosen workout activity.
Exercise, and other factors, can cause your muscles to shrink. By frequently stretching the muscles, you work against that muscle shrinking effect. Stretching has the benefits of:
· Promoting flexibility--- allowing you to move your muscles and joints through their full range of motion.
· Helping to decrease injury to your muscles, ligaments and tendons. Although there are some disputes as to whether stretching before exercising is favored to stretching after exercise, the general benefits of flexibility are not disputed.
· Assisting to keep the body agile by easing muscle rigidity and tightness. A tight muscle is not able to function like it should.
Once you familiarize yourself with stretching you'll find that it's an important part of your overall wellness.
Health encyclopedia (n.d) University of Rochester Medical center, http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=2206
I have been a fitness, health and wellness trainer for the past six years. My expertise in this area has been from working directly in Public Safety and Healthcare for the better part of 20 years. The exposure received from my direct interaction with healthcare and Public Safety has honed and fueled my drive and passion for changing unhealthy life styles, coaching, and promoting wellness. The positive changes enjoyed by my clients since my involvement in personal training is testament to my diligence and commitment to the cause.
CPT, EMT-P, Bsc, MBA