Just in time for the weekend. Ready to strip off your shirt and do a belly dance? No? Maybe have to hit a few fitness goals first? Well, this tip isn’t about some silly new exercise craze like pole dancing, although I hear that’s a super-hard work-out (that no one wants to see me try). Instead, this post is less about belly dancing and more about the beer belly (or rather the weight gain caused by beer and other weekend activities).
If you are thinking of hitting the booze this weekend, think again. There are sooooo many ways alcohol is bad for you, but since we’re talking about weight loss and fitness, we’ll stick to those topics.
Here are a few facts:
Fact 1: Beer contains calories. Well, duh. Even the faddish “low carb” beer among the “healthy” crowd has over 100 calories. The Horn Dog beer from Flying Dog Brewery has a whopping 314 calories, and that’s only for 12 ounces. A couple of those and you’ve downed more calories than a McDonalds Big Mac (530 calories). Think you can go the mixed drink route instead? Many of the mixed drinks out there can wallop 300+ calories per 8 ounce drink into your gut. Wine can range from 100-300 calories in a 5 ounce glass, which no one that I know drinks only 5 ounces when they partake of wine. What do you think would happen if you ate an EXTRA Big Mac or two every weekend in addition to your regular meals? Think you’d gain some weight?
Sidebar: I know, I know. Weight loss is not a 1-for-1 calculation. It’s not about burning more calories than you consume. Studies show that the math just doesn’t work that way. However, we all know that consuming more and moving less leads to weight gain, muscle atrophy and general overall well-being decline. So, in absence of some Einstein-like calculation, it is still generally a good concept to understand that if you reduce (not drastically) your intake and move more, you’ll get rid of the fat and build lean muscle (more about this in a later tip).
And I know I am going to catch hell from a bunch of my biking and running buddies who are all about a good beer. Don’t get me wrong. I love a great, cold, OMB Captain Jack after a long ride or run, or a free sample from my friends at Rivermen Brewing. The problem is, that downing 3 or 4 pints of beer everyday on the weekend negates my fitness goals. Priorities people! Besides, like any good treat, you have to earn it first and you should partake in moderation.
Fact 2: Stay up all night partying and you’ll lose some sleep. Worse yet, you’ll gain some weight. When you sleep, your body produces growth hormones which signals the body to use fat for energy. Less sleep, less hormone, less fat burn. Try this on for size… If you are planning on getting 6 hours or more of sleep, weigh yourself before you go to bed (but after you urinate). Then, when you wake up, do your bathroom “business” and weigh yourself again. See a significant difference? Both calories (and water) are used up while sleeping. That doesn’t mean that you should sleep 15-20 hours a day, but not getting adequate rest will raise cortisol levels (a weight loss and fitness nemesis), hinder recovery from your workouts (you are working out, correct?) and generally make you a grumpy grump (hangover anyone).
Fact 3: When you consume alcohol, your body tries its best to get rid of it. It’s toxic for all intents and purposes. Your liver stops processing all other calories until it can get rid of the alcohol. That means everything else you eat has a better chance of getting stored as fat. I’m sure you don’t eat hot wings, peanuts, or other snack foods when you drink, right?
Try this: Start your evening with a tall glass of water. If you are going to have a few drinks socially (and responsibly), while drinking, make every other drink a glass of water. Throw a stir-straw in there and your buddies will not know the difference between that and a gin with tonic. Better yet, just stick with water if you dare. Remember: priorities. You gotta want it (fitness goals) bad enough.
If you want to permanently change the way you look and FEEL, then you have to permanently change the way you live. There are no shortcuts.
See you tomorrow for tip number 4!
About: 10 Fitness Tips in 10 Days is designed for me to share my experiences with you to help you lose weight (if necessary), get into shape and improve your fitness (always necessary). I am, by no means, an expert, nutritionist, or doctor. Instead, I am simply another normal person, such as yourself, that didn’t want to figure it out with trial/error on my own. Instead, I gathered great information from successful athletes, coaches and other professionals. Always consult your doctor before starting any exercise program or making any changes to your diet.