How to Minimize the Damage of Alcohol

Despite the dangers of alcohol being documented we can’t deny that it is an essential part of society for many people and has a variety of benefits in moderation. For years, studies have shown that people who drink too much or too often, as is common in Singapore and Hong Kong, run a high risk of liver damage, heart disease and dementia later in life. Also, as you’ve probably guessed, it’s terrible for your waistline too.

Unfortunately alcohol contains seven calories per gram, that’s nearly as much as fat and way more than protein per gram. This high calorie content of alcohol can very quickly shoot you into an excess of calories for the day, leading to a rapidly expanding gut. Alcohol also interferes with the liver’s ability to break down and remove fat from the body, causing a flood of fat to find a long term home inside your belly and love handles.

For most of us, quitting drinking is an ever distant dream permanently fogged up by a stressful work life and a shamelessly alcoholic social circle. The good news is that it is possible to mitigate the damage. This article is for people who want to quickly lose weight (or keep the weight off!) but don’t want to give up alcohol entirely:

  1. Skip the fatty and sugary carbohydrates during the day, before drinking.

    Since alcohol is so energy dense the body puts a temporary halt on burning calories from food. Any excess energy in the form of food is more likely to be stored as fat. Stick to the fruit and vegetables that are lower in calories, avoid pizza, burgers and fast food. Try to stick to this rule while drinking as well.

  2. Choose the lesser of the evils.

    Vodka has the least calories of any alcohol, so long as you’re drinking it straight or with a sugar-free mixer.

  3. Drink green tea.

    The antioxidant content in green tea makes a hangover more bearable and less damaging to your body. If you’re prone to a jittery, anxious hangover (or ‘hangxiety’), the amino acid theanine found in green tea can ease the shakes.

  4. Supplement with N-acetyl-cysteine the day before and the day after.

    An amino acid usually found in eggs, it is a precursor to an important antioxidant called glutathione, which helps protect the body against the damaging effects of free radicals, heavy metals and toxins like alcohol. Alternatively, eat more eggs (and don’t skip the yolk!) Sorry Singaporeans, for some reason this is prescription only in Singapore!

  5. Get sweaty with lots of hydration.

    Schedule a 30 minute light session of cardio the next day to get you back on track. Nothing puts you back in a routine like getting outside for a hike or a run, but make sure you drink extra hydrating fluids since you’ll already be dehydrated from the night before. Hiking has a positive effect on serotonin levels, which puts a smile on your face and makes the day after a little less miserable!

As personal training coaches, we understand that completely cutting alcohol intake might be impossible for many of our clients and 2-3 drinks a week likely won’t hamper your progress so long as you’re making the right food choices. However, if you are drinking heavily on multiple nights a week, it may be time to consider if your social drinking is taking its toll on your body.