When someone makes a decision to improve their health and physical appearance, they often focus their attention on calories and exercise. Truth be told, you should really be looking at lifestyle factors and aspects of health such as sleep, stress management, inflammation, detoxification, and hormone function. Alcohol, especially in lager quantities bangs up detoxification pathways, causes an inflammatory response, negatively impacts sleep quality/quantity, compromises testosterone and other androgens. So far, alcohol isn’t off to a great start with more bad news to come.
It seems the importance of sleep and its connection to all aspects of health is greatly undervalued and miss understood.
There are two different stages of sleep:
- Non REM Sleep
- REM Sleep (dream sleep)
Non REM sleep has stages 1, 2, 3, and 4. Deep stages 3 and 4 are where body replenishment takes place, its great for the cardiovascular system and influences healthy metabolism. Sleep efficiency is not just about quantity but more so specific to quality. Alcohol is a sedative drug and puts people to sleep quicker. The issue here is, sedation is not sleep and your nightcap may be preventing you from reaching these critical stages of sleep. Neuroscientist and sleep guru, Matthew Walker states men who sleep 5-6 hours a night, likely have testosterone levels of someone 10 years their senior therefore, ageing you a decade in terms of that critical aspect of wellness.
In reference to calories, alcohol contains 7 calories per gram (nearly twice that of protein and carbohydrates) all of which provides the body with zero vitamin and nutrient benefits. Something I have always found amusing when discussing the importance of adequate hydration, is a skewed belief or complaint that drinking 3-4 litres of water over the duration of an entire day is too difficult yet consuming 15 vodka sodas on a Saturday night is no worry.
Again, such specific focus on calories in, calories out is not the strategy I build my nutritional approach on however, this is the variable often used in attempts to make compositional changes, so… lets look at that.
For starters, if you’re taking a calories in, calories out approach then you should be looking at the entire week rather than a daily focus.
Example: Individual (X) has a maintenance of 2250 calories. Therefore, the nutrition is tailored to a 2000 calorie diet, effectively creating a ‘deficit’ of 250 calories each day. Multiply 250 x 7 and you have a total of 1750 calories that have been sacrificed in hope to pull the surplus of energy from stored body fat.
Problem is, Saturday night you went out drinking.
Average Calories Per Drink:
- Vodka Soda: 96 Calories
- Vodka Softdrink: 200 Calories
- 12 oz Beer: 150 Calories
- Wine: 230 Calories
15 x Vodka Sodas: 1440 Calories
15 x Vodka Lemonades: 3000 Calories
15 x Beers: 2250 Calories
15 x Wines (I think you’d be dead): 3450 Calories
As you can see from some simple calculations, a big night out is going to make your whole calories in, calories out plan completely void without a great deal of effort. Away from the calories, this hasn’t taken into consideration the damage to the other aspects of health outlined above and the abundance of uber eats set to take over your living room Sunday if you’re anything like me post bender.
When you look at the data on drug related deaths, injury and illnesses, alcohol blows any other drug and substance out of the water with exception to tobacco. This includes opiates, cannabis, and other illicit drugs. Despite this information being readily available and in most cases common knowledge, we particularly as Australians continue to indulge in a heavy drinking culture and view it as ‘normal’ and okay, given a government regulates and allows it, all while pooling millions in revenue from its consumption and at the same time, outlawing less dangerous drugs that in some cases, could arguably be beneficial for various purposes that wont be getting discussed here today.
I’ve often heard complaints of a lifestyle without binge drinking on the weekends described as ‘boring’. If you are beyond 23 years of age and are still reliant on such frequency of heavy alcoholic consumption to provide you with happiness, then I would suspect you have greater issues that should be explored within ones psychology.
I enjoy turning one on as much as the next person but I am grateful for having established a decision making process that enables me to make better choices. For me, it comes down to a simple equation of fun reward vs consequence. Drinking 10 pints at Friday night knockoffs at the local pub for a reason no other than something to do, doesn’t win me over in my fun reward vs consequence equation therefore, empowering me to make a more positive and health conscious decision. On the flip side, blowing some steam off and engaging in certain social situations where alcohol is present, can provide me enjoyment, laughter, and cherished memories when the occasion or event is something I’ve looked forward to, allowing me to participate guilt free given my system has kept me in a good physical and mental head space leading up to these times.
My views on alcohol and partying are the same as my views on ice cream and burgers. I love ice cream and burgers, but If I eat that every day, I’m going to get fat and see a decline in my cognitive state. The frequency in which you chose to consume, will come down to the level of care surrounding ones health. If you don’t care that much about your body and health and want to piss it up every weekend, who am I to tell you otherwise. But if your body and health are of a greater priority, sacrifices will need to be made and thats just the way the cookie crumbles.
If you’re a knowledgeable person, you have the information available. That information includes the importance of your health for fulfilling and rewarding a purposeful life. If I cant control my decisions, I don’t know if I can define myself as successful.
With that being said, Cheers!