Alcohol is damaging to the human body, we all know that. How damaging it is depends on how much and how often you have it. Regular, heavy consumption of alcohol will damage just about every organ in the body. Much of the western world have given up smoking due to its negative health effects, yet look the other way in regards to alcohol which in heavy use is just as bad if not worse than smoking.
Most of us enjoy drinking, some more than others. I have had my fair share of alcohol over the years. Do we need to totally abstain from alcohol to be healthy? If you are an elite athlete then I would suggest very rarely if ever drinking but for the average person following some guidelines the damage alcohol does can be reduced significantly.
Peak alcohol concentration
The term peak alcohol concentration refers to the highest level of alcohol in the bloodstream in a particular time period. The damage associated with alcohol is exponential when using this amount. Similarly to a breathalyzer test, a 0.1 reading is only twice 0.05, but is associated with at least 4 times the risk of accidents. The human body feels this in the same way, for every bit the peak raises the damage the alcohol is doing rises exponentially. 10 drinks in a short time is much much more damaging than 10 drinks spread out over a long day/night. If you drink, drink slowly.
Sugar and caffeine coming along for the ride
Another factor to consider with alcohol is that it is often mixed with sugar, caffeine and other impurities present in alcohol. People often don’t think twice about having 12 premixed drinks, but how many would have 12 cans of coke in a row? The amount of sugar present in premixed drinks is often extremely high and when heavily drinking you are loading yourself up not just on empty calorie from the alcohol but on a whole lot of empty calories from the sugar as well!
Mixing alcohol with energy drinks also gives you huge amounts of caffeine in a night. In combination with alcohol, caffeine can mask the effects meaning you will drink more. It also has a negative effect on your sleeping ability and will make your hangover far worse. This is a big reason those jager bombs are leaving you waking up feeling even worse than normal the next day.
Alcohol itself has energy
For those trying to lose weight, it is worth keeping in mind that even in absence of sugar and calories with alcohol drinks, the alcohol itself has energy. For every standard drink of pure alcohol, there are roughly 70 calories from the alcohol itself. Alcohol is preferentially used by the body as energy and this can mean that what you have eaten throughout the day will be more likely to be stored as fat.
Eating and alcohol
A late night kebab or pizza is one of the most common results of a late night out. Adding this to the already huge amount of energy from the alcohol itself, can lead to rapid weight gain in some people. If you want to have a late night feed, try and wait until you get home and eat something prepared if possible. Otherwise, try and reduce how often you are doing this as it can undo the entire week of healthy eating in one night.
If you drink a lot of alcohol a hangover is almost guaranteed. There are hundreds of fabled remedies for curing a hangover, but if you have consumed a lot of alcohol there is often very little that will help. A few ways to reduce the severity of hangovers include:
If optimal health and performance are your primary concerns, it is best to have a very limited intake of alcohol. If your primary motivation is to lose weight, consider drinking less and also considering what else is in the drink besides the alcohol. Also keep in mind not to overeat whilst you are drinking.
I am not going to tell you not to drink, if you want to drink that is your own choice. If you do drink, try to keep the following in mind:
How often do you drink?
Do you feel better drinking less often?
If you have any questions on health and fitness related topics, send them through to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will answer them on the next Monday Q and A.