Written by Jack Boardman
For many people, summer means making most of the heat, sun and longer hours by making most of the outdoors for sporting endeavours, sunbathing or beer gardens. The first of those three makes the other two seem comparatively unhealthy, but what’s summertime without an outdoor barbeque or beer garden?
Alright, so you’re not an alcoholic and don’t have a drinking problem, but it can be a bit of a chore choosing health and fitness goals over the call of drinks in the sun. Is there a way to have the best of both worlds, to stick to your gym plans and head to the beer garden?
Getting on the wagon or reducing your alcohol intake needn’t be the plight you might think.
There are other perks to a sunny day. Alcohol triggers the release of endorphins, which are the chemicals that make you feel good. The snag there is that the more you drink the more harm you’re doing to your body, your liver and, come the morning after, how bad you feel, with your mood and stress levels taking a nose dive. This is because alcohol is also a depressant.
In terms of a buzz or managing stress levels, exercise and cardio workouts are considerably better for the release of endorphins and lasting benefits to your mood and ability to manage stress. To top it off, a sunny day is your free source of vitamin D, which has been proven to combat anxiety and depression.
If put on a pedestal, abstinence could well add to your stress if you deprive yourself of the social aspect and sun to be had in a beer garden, but as part of bigger goals, not drinking is merely a side effect of the health gains to be had. And when could be better for exercising than when you get to do it outdoors?
The fact is that alcohol detracts from the work you’ve been putting in at the gym, can result in weight gain and work against the nutrition regimen you’ve been sticking to.
If you do drink, but want to reduce the amount of alcohol you consume so that you don’t undo all the good work you’ve been putting in at the gym, there are things you can keep in mind so that training doesn’t become a write-off.
Drink – don’t dehydrate! Alcohol prevents the reabsorption of water into the blood stream by inhibiting the hormone ADH. The dehydrating effects of alcohol combined with sweating in the sun can create a serious lack of water in your body. That means you can either make sure you drink a pint of water after each alcoholic beverage or select drinks that could help most to keep you hydrated. Mixers with a heavier fruit juice ratio is a good place to start, as well as lots of ice.
Order the light option. If you’re a beer drinker, this applies to you. Weight loss (or weight gaining) is a matter of the balance between the calories you consume and burn off. There are a lot of calories in most alcoholic drinks, and they’ll hardly contribute to developing muscle. Pick a drink that’s lower on calories and make sure that you don’t skip meals.
This way you know that you are getting the nutrition you want and need for your health and fitness aims before you begin drinking so that the alcohol becomes something to burn off when you next work out. To that end, take advantage of the food menu when you’re in the beer garden – it could be that you don’t need anything but the sun.