‘Tis the season for plenty of holiday parties, too much bad food and probably a few too many drinks! If you are serious about your fitness results, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that drinking alcohol does one thing and one thing only for your fitness—hinder your results!
In fact, anytime you drink alcohol your body shuts off other metabolic processes and switches to metabolizing that alcohol out of your body. That means muscle building and fat burning screech to a halt! But, just in case you decide to partake in a drink or two this holiday season, consider the following ways to avoid a holiday hangover and enjoy seasonal libations without the guilt!
1. Water, Water & More Water
Kind of a no-brainer, but as a reminder, alcohol is a diuretic that dehydrates you. Be sure to drink plenty of water before you step out for the evening. Also, consider having one glass of water between every alcoholic beverage you consume. Before you fall into your bed, down at least 16 ounces (preferably more) of water! Staying hydrated will keep the hangover away or at least minimize its effect.
2. Carb Load
Carbs can help keep your blood sugar levels balanced. When you drink alcohol, your body is busy metabolizing alcohol and can’t switch to metabolize carbs. As a result, your blood sugar levels can dip along with your mood! Eat complex carbs such as brown rice or whole grain bread before you go out to help maintain stable blood sugar.
Whole grains are also a great source of detoxifying B-vitamins that can help reduce hangovers. So instead of reaching for something sugary and sweet the day after a night out, have a whole grain piece of toast topped with natural almond butter!
3. Avoid Sugary Drinks
Although some believe that sugary drinks can contribute to dehydration and increased hangover the next day, it’s actually more likely related to the loss of minerals and the sweetness making it easier to consume MORE alcohol. And, as you would suspect, sugary drinks are higher in calories and sugar than simpler drinks like gin and tonic. So whenever possible, go for simpler, lower sugar options!
4. Mineral Up
Too much alcohol can leave your body depleted of vitamins, minerals and salt. This is because alcohol consumption increases urine production causing the body to dehydrate. This leads to many common hangover symptoms, including thirst, weakness, dry mouth, dizziness and lightheadedness.
On that note, don’t go for fast food post holiday party! Yes, it is loaded in salt, which your body is craving and needs. However, all that alcohol you drank has done enough damage to your body, so don’t make it worse. Instead of reaching for fries or potato chips, go for a few pickles. Pickles are rich in nutrients including vitamin A, iron, potassium, vitamin K, calcium and manganese. And if you can stomach it, try a mineral-rich fish such as tuna, which can help replenish depleted nutrients! Consider also using a mineral supplement
5. Sweat It Out
Sweating it out is actually a myth—your body can metabolize alcohol quickly. About 1 oz of hard liquor can be metabolized in approximately one hour! So ever though you won’t be “sweating it out,” you should still go to the gym the next day! Don’t let your holiday celebrations interfere with what else is important to you. Yeah, you might not feel so great, but a little exercise can go a long way! Remember, dehydration is what’s usually the root cause of a hangover, so drink lots of water and go burn off those extra calories you consumed! What’s more, the endorphin release from working out may actually make you feel better!
6. Avoid Coffee
Come morning time, you may not want to reach for your usual cup of java. I know it’s tempting, but don’t do it! Remember, coffee contains caffeine, which is a diuretic and can make you more dehydrated. If you do choose to kickstart your day with a jolt of coffee, be sure to drink a glass or two of water with it!
7. Have a Protein Shake or Two
When you drink, your body produces a toxic substance called acetaldehyde, which is part of the reason you are suffering from the symptoms of a hangover. As a result, the body produces its strongest antioxidant—glutathione–to rid the body of this toxin. But, this antioxidant can be depleted quickly! One of the best ways to up your natural supply of glutathione is by taking in whey protein! Quality whey protein or an Essential Amino Acid drink (not just BCAAs) can provide all the key amino acids for glutathione production, including Cysteine, Glycine and Glutamate!
8. Switch Up Your Drink
If you choose to partake in some form of holiday libations, the best thing to do is to be sure you choose less calorie-loaded drinks. If going for cocktails, stick with mineral waters or diet sodas mixed with hard liquors such as vodka. Avoid juice, cream-based liquors or condiment toppers like cherries, candy canes, sugar-rimmed glasses or whipped cream. If you’re a wine drinker, mix half wine with a sparkling water to reduce calories. Here are a few reduced calorie cocktails to try:
Reduced Calorie Holiday Cocktails
Cranberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, manganese and flavonoids, but due to the extreme bitterness of the fruit, most cranberry juices are loaded with sugar. Pick a light cranberry juice that is usually blended with a few other juices and even sweetened with a non-calorie sweetener such as sucralose.Mix 1 cup light cranberry juice, 3 oz of vodka, 1 oz of cointreau and 1 oz of lime juice. Shake with ice and serve!
Makes 2 servings. Calories Per Serving: 181 kCal, Carbs: 11 g, Sugar: 5 g
This Holiday fruit is full of antioxidants, Vitamin C, B6 and potassium. The concentrated juice packs a powerful punch and doesn’t require too much either!Mix 1 cup of chilled pomegranate juice, ¼ cup of soda and 10 oz of sparkling wine. Add lime, orange slices and pomegranate seeds to garnish.
Makes 2 servings. Calories Per Serving: 187 kCal, Carbs: 22 g, Sugar: 17 g
Although a favorite holiday treat, Eggnog can be loaded in calories, fat and sugar! Choose a light version of pre-made Eggnog and add your choice of brandy!Mix 4 cups of Light Eggnog with 4 oz of Brandy.
Makes 4 servings. Calories Per Serving: 195 Kcal, Carbs: 23 g, Sugar: 23g, Fat: 2 g, Protein: 3 g