ALCOHOL – SHOULD I QUIT IT?
The post work beers.
The wine with tea.
The weekend tipples.
Even if you are only having a couple of glasses each time it soon adds up.
Before anyone pulls out drunken photos of me (there’s plenty!!), I’m not here to preach or judge – I’m just giving what I see as a logical perspective!
So, is the above a problem?
Will consuming regular alcohol stop you from being fit and healthy, and do you need to quit drinking to change your body?
I am hopeful that I will cover this topic thoroughly in this article.
I often ask myself “should I take a break from booze?”, and I regularly do so, particularly at the start of the year.
However, at the same time, I’ve never really felt like I need to quit alcohol for good (apart from when I’ve had a hangover from hell!).
Many of us consider ourselves fairly fit and healthy people. We workout and try to eat a balanced diet – and this may lead to the self-justification that we can let loose on the alcohol.
So, if our aim is to be fit, healthy and functionally efficient, how does alcohol come into the equation? As usual, the answer isn’t ‘black and white’ and straight down the line!
If you look hard enough you can pull out facts that back up what you may want to hear – that drinking alcohol is good for you!
For example, you’ve probably heard that:
- “Moderate alcohol intake is linked with a lower risk of coronary heart disease and diabetes”
- “Light drinking is good for the heart and circulatory system”
- “Moderate drinking can reduce risk of cardiac arrest and clot-caused stroke by 25-40%!”
Whilst these headlines are all good at re-assuring us, the drinking public, the truth of the matter is that if you don’t already drink, experts suggest you don’t ever start!
The truth is that no one knows if any amount of alcohol is actually good for all of us.
But, don’t fret – I’m not going to suggest you don’t drink!
That’s a fear that many of my GymWolfPT clients have, and is completely unfounded.
I know that life is all about balance, and that relaxation and a drink can sometimes be the perfect unwind medicine!!
The key in most cases is ‘MODERATION’.
However, what is moderation?
Whilst definitions vary around the world, the UK Government have drawn up the ‘low risk’ guidelines as follows:
- “For healthy adults, 14 units per week (1 pint of lager/glass of wine is ~2 units). The guidelines state that ‘if you do drink as much as 14 units per week, it is best to spread this evenly over 3 days or more”.
- They also state “You should not ‘save up’ units and drink heavily at the weekends. This has become known as binge drinking. Binge drinking over one or two nights a week can lead to health problems and antisocial behaviour”.
These guidelines are all well and good, but when was the last time you emptied your beer into a measuring cup?
Or totalled your drinks at the end of the week?
Research has found that many people routinely, and often massively, underestimate the amount of alcohol they are consuming!
This is why many people probably fall into the ‘heavy’ drinker category without even knowing it!
I’m not wanting to be a messenger of gloom, but if you do fall into the ‘heavy’ drinker bracket there are numerous health issues which become a higher risk to you.
- High blood pressure
- Cardiac disease
- Kidney problems
- Depression / anxiety
- Sexual disfunction
- Various cancers
- Thyroid disease
- Fibrosis / cirrhosis
There are also none disease related issues such as poor judgement, sleep disruption and lack of focus.
The truth of the matter is that alcohol is a poison, which our body much convert for us to process and enjoy!
There are many factors which affect our ability to do this including:
- Your age
- Your body size
- Your sex
- Your genetic tolerance
- Your ethnicity
- Your bodies enzymes (these convert the alcohol).
If you do feel you are a ‘heavy drinker’ and are not able to significantly reduce your consumption you should seek professional help.
Now, let’s flip this on it’s head! As many of us, myself included, enjoy some alcohol consumption, what should we do?
Well, we are not alone!
For a large proportion of the world’s population, alcohol is part of their lifestyle.
And, whilst more mind based than physical health based, there are certainly some benefits to consuming some alcohol.
These benefits include:
- RELAXATION: A touch of alcohol does help you feel relaxed.
- TASTE: Many people like the taste of a good quality beer, wine or other beverage.
- UNLOCKS THE MIND: Research has shown that a persons ‘problem solving’ and imagination can be improved after a couple of drinks.
- SOCIAL ASPECT: Alcohol lowers our defences and can make socialising much easier. People are more likely to smile, laugh and bond after a few beverages.
The key is that you drink because you actually enjoy it and not because it’s a habit, you are stressed out, you need it or because others want you to drink!
I would suggest you should openly and honestly review your drinking and determine how it fits with your goals and the lifestyle you desire. You might find:
- You’re drinking just the right amount OR
- You’re drinking a bit too much and need to cut back slightly OR
- You’re drinking is causing you major problems and you need to give up completely OR
- You’re not drinking at all and may need an occasional drink or night out to relax and lighten up!
It all depends on individual circumstances, but don’t avoid reviewing this and just plant your head in the sand (or bar!).
By reviewing your drinking over a set period – either in the past or going forward – you can see the pro’s and con’s and take any action required.
As usual, any questions fire them over.
Ian David Worthington
Creator, Owner and Coach at GymWolfPT.com
If you are a busy person who’s seen unwanted body fat, general poor health and fitness sneak up, please feel free to get in touch with the GymWolfPT Team.
I specialise in helping and guiding people become healthier, more efficient/productive and have extra energy.
I coach both ‘in person’ and online fitness programs which are tailored perfectly to even the busiest and time challenged business people.
Contact me today HERE