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How do you get fit, lose fat, and still be able to indulge in alcohol socially?

For most of us Wisconsinites, enjoying a glass of wine or having some beers while watching the game is a fun way to socialize or unwind. Yet, too much indulgence can work against your fitness goals. So how do you balance both?

First, you’ll drive yourself crazy if you’re trying to be perfect. Of course, if you have no problem abstaining from alcohol, then this isn’t an issue for you. However, for the rest of us, that actually do like to partake in some adult beverages, here are a few tips that can help you to stay lean, while still drinking alcohol occasionally.

1. Obviously alcohol gives you extra empty calories on the days that you choose to drink. On nights that you know are going to involve some drinking, it helps to make sure that your dinner is based only around protein and vegetables. You’re going to take in a lot of empty calories with the alcohol, so eating a good portion of appetite-satisfying protein along with nutrient-rich vegetables can help to control your appetite and give your body the nutrients it needs. Plus, most importantly, there’s just no room for loads of carbohydrate-rich foods if you’re also going to be consuming alcohol. Carbs + alcohol is a perfect recipe for growing a beer belly or muffin top! Yes ladies, this means you too. Try to keep that evening meal a fairly low carb meal to save yourself from extra empty calories.

2. If you want to save your body from adding fat, by all means stay away from syrupy, fruity drinks that are loaded with sugar… this is a double whammy for your gut as you’re not only getting all of the empty alcohol calories, but also loads of empty sugar calories. Big fruity drinks such as a margarita can sometimes have as much as 500-800 calories per serving! Instead, your best bet is to stick with a clear alcohol mixed with club soda and a squeeze of lime or lemon. A glass of wine is also a healthy option. Stay away from tonic water mixers! Some people don’t realize this, but tonic water is loaded with almost as much sugar as regular soda… on the other hand, club soda has no calories at all. It is one of the lowest calorie mixer options.

3. If you’re going to drink beer, you’re better off choosing just 1 or 2 dark beers rather than 5 or 6 light beers. Sure, some dark beers may have more calories than light beers, but dark beers also have more B vitamins and antioxidants than light beers, so you actually get more nutrition from the dark beer. A 12 oz bottle of Guinness has 126 calories.

4. Try to get in a high intensity full body workout before your night out of drinking. At least you’ve revved up your metabolism and have your body processing calories a little faster. Also, trying to get in some sort of exercise the morning after your night out can also help to get your body back to a good state of health. This may not be your best workouts in terms of energy, but it can help to just get your body moving and break a sweat.

5. Avoid the late-night munchies after a night of drinking!  We highlighted this because this is where most people do the biggest damage to their waistlines. Instead, make sure to have some lean protein and vegetables quickly available at home (perhaps some pre-cooked chicken breasts, or even tuna fish and some veggie sticks) so that you can satisfy your late night post-party appetite with lean protein instead of carbohydrates. The worst thing for your body is loading up on pizza, ice cream, and other carb-rich junk after a night out of drinking. Sound too difficult? There are plenty of 200 – 300 calorie single serve pizza options or lean pockets that can satisfy your urge to eat without totally destroying your nutrition goals.

6. If you drink multiple drinks socially, try to only imbibe 1-2 days/week maximum if you want to stay lean. On the other hand, if you never drink more than 1-2 drinks per day, having 1-2 drinks daily with a meal can still be part of a healthy lifestyle. As long as those calories are accounted for and you still stay within your daily caloric maintenance. Again – we consider a 1-2 drink a day regimen healthy if you are in the maintenance stage. Having a glass or two of wine at dinner is fine. IF you are still trying to lose, this is an easy thing to cut and save for social times.

7. Wine is one of the healthier drink choices… if you must have a drink, you might as well choose wine so you at least get a good dose of antioxidants as well. Red wine is known for its antioxidant content, however even white wines contain antioxidants as well. We love Thirst and Vine – be sure to check them out – they are located in Shorewood and are fabulous.


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