If you turn on the television, you may see tons of infomercials about the latest machine or diet that is supposed to melt away unwanted belly fat and keep it off. All you have to do is use the machine and in a few weeks you'll have a flat stomach. Or, you are told to perform an endless amount of crunches or spend hours on the treadmill to burn belly fat. Unfortunately, there is no quick and easy way to lose belly fat.
First of all, a flat stomach is made in the kitchen. You are what you eat and if you eat junk, it will show up on you in unwanted areas such as your belly. Your workout regimen is the other part of the equation, and the most important factor of the regime is intensity. Intensity is inversely related to waist-to-hip ratios. Moreover, you burn more total calories per minute during high-intensity intermittent exercise. Below are some tips on how to get the flat stomach that you desire.
- Use exercises that work your abdominals all the time. Free weight exercises activate the core more effectively. Squats, lunges, step-ups, push-up variations, plank variations, deadbug variations, and inverted rows are among the best exercises that activate your core musculature throughout the entire movement. This way, you are working your body as a unit, which is how you use it every day. Moreover, you are utilizing more muscle groups when performing these exercises which means that you receive a greater caloric expenditure. Therefore, your body responds better to these types of exercises.
- Incorporate metabolic circuit training into your workouts. Metabolic circuits are total body workouts that involve high-intensity work periods with short rest periods in a circuit format. These types of workouts deplete carbohydrate stores so that your body is forced to burn fat during recovery and hours after. By performing these workouts, you get the strength training benefits of weight training and the cardiovascular benefits of cardio exercise, which adds to caloric expenditure.
- Restrict sugar, starch, trans fat, and partially hydrogenated fat intake. These ingredients set the stage for increased belly fat, not to mention a long list of diseases. Consuming too much of these ingredients creates unwanted inflammation in your body and makes you crave more unhealthy foods. These ingredients are found in foods such as baked goods, sports drinks, energy drinks, carbonated beverages, fruit juices, desserts, cereals, and some pre-packaged meats. Unhealthy ingredients, too many calories, and not enough exercise are a prescription for abdominal fat gain.
- Get enough sleep. You should be getting between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Not enough rest negatively affects your appetite control system, making you crave more sugars and starches. Moreover, cortisol increases, which is notorious for mobilizing fat to the abdominal area.
- Drink half of your body weight in ounces of water per day. Doing so prevents bloating, keeps you from consuming too many calories, and boosts your metabolism.
Forget all of the old-school advice on how to get a flat stomach. Intense, total body workouts, good nutrition, and proper rest should be a part of your lifestyle in your want to drop fat. Flat stomachs are made in the kitchen and from effective exercise programs. So if you want a flat stomach, clean up your nutrition, use total body exercises, and crank up the intensity!
By Pamela Brown
Your Body Benefits from Your Hard Work
"Exercise improves your health." You hear it all the time, but what does that really mean? How much of a difference can exercise make in your life, and how much do you really need to do? You’ll be happy to know that you don’t need to spend countless hours in the gym to achieve the heart-health benefits of getting active.
Lower Blood Pressure
- A study by the National Institutes of Health showed that regular exercise (30+ minutes of moderate activity, 5+ days a week) reduced blood pressure in 75% of subjects who had high blood pressure. The reductions were approximately 10 mmHg for both systolic and diastolic blood pressures.
- According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the blood pressure lowering effects of exercise can be observed as soon as one to three hours after a single 30- 45 minute workout! This response can linger for up to nine hours post-exercise. Permanent blood pressure changes can be seen as early as three weeks to three months after beginning an exercise program.
Improve Cholesterol Levels
- A 2001 review involving patients with high cholesterol demonstrated a change in HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol) levels after a 12-week exercise program. On average, subjects experienced a 4.6% increase in HDL, a 5.0% decrease in LDL, and a 3.7% decrease in triglycerides.
- Other studies show widespread improvements in cholesterol levels are related to the amount of activity and not the intensity of exercise. The more minutes you exercise per week, the more your cholesterol levels will improve, even if accompanied by a minimal weight change.
Prevent Type II Diabetes
- The combination of physical activity and weight loss has a powerful effect on preventing the onset of Type II diabetes in high-risk individuals. In a recent study by the Diabetes Prevention Program, participants who exercised and lost excess weight had a 58% reduction in the onset of Type II diabetes over 2.8 years, compared to the control group.
Most of these health benefits can be achieved through moderate-intensity physical activity. Experts recommend at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week. Moderate-intensity activity causes a slightly increased rate of breathing and heart rate. It can be described as feeling "light" to "somewhat hard".
There are easy ways to add this type of activity to your daily routine:
- Park the car farther away from your destination.
- Get on or off the bus several blocks away.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
- Take fitness breaks instead of cigarette or coffee breaks. Walk, stretch or do some office exercises.
- Perform gardening, yard work, heavy house cleaning, or home-repair activities.
- Avoid labor-saving devices; turn off the self-propel option on your lawn mower or vacuum cleaner, and hide all of your TV remotes.
- Exercise while watching TV. For example, use hand weights, a stationary bike or treadmill, stretch, or perform body-weight exercises such as crunches, push ups and squats.
- Keep a pair of comfortable walking or running shoes in your car and office. You'll be ready for activity wherever you go!
- Walk while doing errands.
The good news is that it's never too late to start an active lifestyle. No matter how old you are, how unfit you feel, or how long you've been inactive, research shows that starting a more active lifestyle now—through consistent, moderate-intensity activity—can make you healthier and improve your quality of life.
Fitness Tip: See exercise as a stress reliever - A simple shift in attitude can do wonders for your stress levels. If you've had a long, hard day at work, exercise is something that helps to relieve your stress and revive yourself. Change your attitude about exercising and look forward to it as time just for you, instead of a chore to be done.
Some great success gurus tout changing your inner world before you see results in your outer world. Meaning you must change 'you' before you can expect your life around you to change; this consists of the way you view the world, the way you perceive reality, the way you interact with others. Planning to lose weight without having a firm hold on your current beliefs and mindset (or inner 'you') can spell disaster.
HEALTH & FITNESS ARTICLES
Workout Shoes - Shoes for Strength Training
I've always worked out in just a plain pair of tennis shoes. Rarely to I see or even think that using special shoes would make any difference at all. However, I began to think of better shoe support when I started doing heavy squats. This prompted me to do a little research in specific type shoes for working out that would give me better ankle support and put my feet in a more level position for squats and leg presses.
After some Googling around, I came across the Otomix brand of shoes. There's virtually nothing on the net about workout shoes. There's even less in bodybuilding forums about the subject. Yet soccer players have special shoes, and so do most other athletes. Tennis shoes are great for running but they didn't seem to be wonderful when it came to squatting and doing other heavy leg exercises.
These shoes ( a few versions are available) sell for around $95 on average depending on the website you find, and the sales being offered. With some clever searching, you can find a great price. I ordered my Otomix Ultimate Trainers online and was pleased to see many e-mail and tracking notifications about my order. According to Otomix, these workout shoes were specifically for:
Ultimate Trainer has been designed specifically for weight training and incorporates the new High Performance Bodybuilding system. The HPB system provides a combination of comfort and support utilizing a special wrap around strap adjusted by our innovative lacing system. This shoe is a must for the serious bodybuilder.
Note: Their shoes run a half size small compared to your true shoe size. They suggest that you order a half size larger. Quickly I opened the box and found everything intact and in brand new condition. I was ready for my leg workout. Adjusting the laces properly is a must. It came from the factory like most shoes. It wasn't laced thru each of the holes. I fixed the laces and found the shoes to fit nicely and very snug. I felt ankle support and was able to tighten them like a snowboarding boot but not so tight as to be uncomfortable. I headed off to the squat rack.
Doing squats is something I enjoy. Honestly, I enjoy them a bit more now with full support for my feet. These shoes were great first time. NO break in period was necessary. They were comfortable, gave strong ankle support and allowed me to do full squats without any annoying feet issues. I felt like my feet were flat and firmly place on the floor with good traction. Moving onto the leg press, same thing. NO odd arches, no slippage, and good solid firm foot placement for a good pressing motion.
I only use these shoes on leg days. That is really where I want the support. I do not wear them outside for walking around. They are just like gym gloves. Used in that environment as appropriate. The soles of the shoe are good for traction in a smooth, flat gym environment. These particular shoes are not made to be worn as a street shoe. That would be a big mistake. You'd wear out the tread in days and be out $100 very fast. However, in the gym, where they are meant to be, these shoes were incredibly superior.
My overall reaction and opinion of my Otomix workout shoes are very favourable. I would recommend them to anybody looking for some comfortable, high quality, long lasting footwear that is designed specifically for the gym.
By Marc David
Fitness Tip: Business Travel Training - When traveling out of town, book a hotel with a gym. It's the next best thing to training at home. And if there's no gym, make your own! In lieu of a stair stepper, try the stairs! In lieu of a treadmill, try the sidewalk. In strange areas always check with the front desk about the safety of the surrounding area, particularly at night.
How to Eat Healthy At A Barbecue
It's Barbecue season!
Almost as much fun as Wedding Season, barbecue season is an opportunity to hang out with friends and family, gather in the backyard or on a beach to play awesome lazy-man games like horseshoes and bocci, and indulge in disgusting food and beverage choices...resulting in bloated waistlines and Monday morning misery.
With Summer in full swing and the Fourth of July right around the corner, I'd guess you'll be ending up at a bunch of outdoor fiestas over the next few months. If you're interested in making better food choices, it's often tough to do so at a typical barbecue as you're oftentimes surrounded by nothing but unhealthy options.
Nerd Fitness to the rescue!
Here's a foolproof plan to enjoying yourself at a barbecue, keeping your friends and stomach happy, and allowing you to stay healthy all summer long!
This fantastic "meat on a stick" concept works great for other cuts of beef, chicken, pork, and sausage - any meat that's not ground, really.
Score some major points by adding some variety to the standard 'chicken on a stick': cold, with different sauce options (BBQ, guacamole, or sriracha), or with different seasoning (try the pre-made seasonings from Mrs. Dash) - nutritious, delicious, and very easy to eat. Just don't poke your eye out.
But that's just meat - you can skewer the hell out of anything you put your mind to!
Guacamole Deviled Eggs
Original Recipe Yield8 servings
- 4 whole eggs in the shell
- 2 avocados - peeled, pitted, and mashed
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon minced green onion
- 2 teaspoons minced seeded jalapeno pepper
- 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1 dash hot pepper sauce (e.g. Tabasco™), or to taste
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon Dijon-style prepared mustard
- 1 pinch paprika
- Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Cover, and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water, cool, and peel. Slice eggs in half, and remove yolks to a mixing bowl.
- In the bowl with the yolks, combine the avocado, cilantro, green onion, and jalapeno. Stir in the lime juice, and season with salt, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard. Mix well, and fill empty egg white halves. Chill until serving. Sprinkle with paprika just before serving.
Amount Per Serving Calories: 119 | Total Fat: 9.9g | Cholesterol: 106mg
Go green. REAL green.
BBQs are notorious for having salads of every type, most of which are salads in name only: Fruit salad, pasta salad, taco salad, macaroni salad, potato salad, JELL-O salad. Except for the fruit salad, none of these are really healthy.
Why not actually bring a HEALTHY salad? Here are a few you can whip up in a matter of minutes:
Or - cut a bell pepper in half and hollow it out. Then fill the inside with a salad made out of celery, onion, tomato, pickles, and bacon, mixed together with primal mayo. The pepper serves as an edible bowl that's healthy for you."
Take that, bread!
If using raw eggs in mayonnaise makes you nervous, try this recipe, which not only dramatically reduces the sugar content but also partially cooks the eggs!
2 large egg yolks
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp water
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
1 cup pure olive oil
Heat the egg yolks, lemon juice, water, and sugar in a small skillet over very low heat, stirring constantly. At the first sign of thickness, remove from heat and submerge in a large pan of cold water (you should continue stirring here to avoid creating citrus-y scrambled eggs…trust us!) Scoop mixture out of pan and into a food processor. Blend for a few seconds and then let mixture sit uncovered for at least 5 minutes to cool. Add remaining dry ingredients, and blend on low speed. Drizzle oil slowly into the mixture until all ingredients are combined. Scoop into a large glass container and chill immediately. Mayonaise should keep for at least one week if stored correctly.
Looking for some healthy snack options to snack on while playing horseshoes or bags?
How about some Ants on a Log? You know, celery with almond butter and either raisins or dried cranberries stuck on them...which looks like...wait for it...ants on a log! Trust me, these bad boys are a huge hit - they're not only delicious and easy to eat with your fingers, but they remind people of when they were five.
Remember those days? Sigh.
What about chips? Are there healthy chip options? You bet your ass there are!
Or – try this - It's a jalapeno pepper cut in half, stuffed with shrimp, dates, avocado, wrapped in bacon, and drizzled with a little honey. They're a huge hit with clean eaters and non-clean eaters alike!
I know, there's nothing better than kicking back with a few ice cold beers or fun cocktails while sitting on a back porch with your loved ones as the sun sets.
So I don't want you to stop doing that - I believe in two ideals when it comes to making healthy decisions:
"Do the best you can, with what you have, where you are," from Teddy Roosevelt, and "You gotta have fun," from my Dad, who happens to enjoy Nerd Fitness (hi Dad!) almost as much as he enjoys Miller High Life (the champagne of beers, as he says).
- Red Wine (organic if possible) - ~130 calories and ~5-6g carbs. Full of the healthy stuff previously listed.
- NorCal Margarita - (Robb Wolfe’s drink of choice) tequila, club soda, and lime juice – ~150 calories and ~5g carbs
- Whiskey/Brandy/Scotch/Cognac - Full of healthy antioxidants as well. 64 calories and zero carbs.
- Vodka/soda or Vodka/rocks with lime (my drink of choice) – >2g carbs, 66 calories + lime juice (>10 calories)
- Bacardi and Diet - (Staci‘s drink of choice). 2g carbs, 66 calories. I know, I know, fake sugar and chemicals, but we’re already drinking, right?
- White wine - ~130 calories and ~5-6g carbs. Not a terrible option, but not nearly as many of the healthy benefits you get with red.
- Light beer - ~100 calories and ~3-5g carbs. This varies on the type and brand of beer. Yes, lower in calories and lower in carbs, but beer is created from a grain and it’s easy to consume LOTS of these very quickly.
- Regular beer – ~150 calories and 10-14g of carbs. Made of grain, easy to consume half a dozen of them without batting an eye, and full of calories and carbs. If you’re a real beer drinker (I am), do so in moderation. I’ll refer you back to the “what are your goals” section to determine what “moderation” is for you.
- ___________ and coke/sprite/orange juice/cranberry juice. Sugar, sugar, sugar, sugar, calories, sugar. The innocent cranberry juice you added to your vodka? 120 calories and 30 grams of sugar.
- ___________ and Red Bull – Although I love Red Bull’s marketing, I hate their drink. Both alcohol and caffeine are diuretics which will dehydrate you very quickly. On top of that, the alcohol tries to slow you down, the caffeine tries to speed you up – your body has no effing clue what to do.
- Pretty much anything frozen – Sugary margaritas, daiquiris, pina coladas, hurricanes, vodka Red Bull slushies (yes these exist, stay far far away). There’s enough sugar in these drinks to make Def Leppard think ‘that’s a bit much’.
- Sangria – Think of it like wine but with 20 packets of sugar added in.
If you are going to drink at a barbecue, go into it with a plan: Instead of blindly pounding whatever drink is placed in front of you, make smart conscientious decisions earlier in the day and follow that plan through to the end.
- I'll drink a bottle of water in between every alcoholic beverage.
- I can have one drink per hour; not fourteen.
- I'll be slowly sipping on this Paleo Margarita (tequila on the rocks with lime juice), thank you very much!
Now, I won't tell you to abstain from drinking; heck, I won't even tell you not to binge drink - if you feel the need to consume sixteen beers and five shots of tequila to enjoy yourself, that's your decision. I'm not your dad! Let's assume, however, that you're not going to be drinking yourself into a stupor, but still plan on having a few adult beverages - this next part is for you:
The reason that drinking at a barbecue can be Bad News Bears is that in addition to the liquid calories you're getting from the alcohol, you might also choose to consume RIDICULOUS amounts of empty calories from chips, hot dogs, popcorn, candy, nachos, pizza, and/or whatever processed foods you can get your hands on.
Rather than stuffing your face with unhealthy foods while drinking, stuff your face with HEALTHY options so you don't even need to think about the unhealthy stuff.
By: Brian at nerd Fitness
Your Personal Fitness Plan
Setting Up a Gym at Home
Setting up a Home Gym
If you decide to do your Fitness Training at your house, then you need to consider several factors in setting up a Gym at Home.
When choosing the area to set up your Home Gym, consider traffic flow, safety, the fitness equipment you want to include and whether you will want to expand your Home Gym in the future. You should also determine the amount of space available in the area, since this will determine what type of fitness equipment you can accomodate in your fitness training area.
Your Home Gym should include components for weight training as well as cardiovascular and flexibility training. Make sure the fitness equipment you purchase is appropriate to your interests and current and future fitness goals and training level. Also, make sure you factor in the ever changing fitness levels you will reach throughout the life of your fitness training programs.
Lets Visit some fitness equipment that you should consider when getting ready to plan out the set up of your Gym at Home.
Dumbbells are probably one of the most versatile pieces of fitness equipment you should consider purchasing for a Home Gym.
Start with at least 5 pairs of dumbbells of varying weight instead of buying only one pair and using them for all your fitness exercises.
Using a dumbbell rack to store your dumbbells can help you save space and keep your workout area organized and make it easier for you to retreive your dumbbells during your Weight Training programs.
If space is limited, consider a vertical rather than a horizontal rack, since the vertical rack takes up alot less space.
One great addition to any Fitness Training area at Home would be an adjustable dumbbell weight plates, which consist of two short bars and several plates that you can clamp on to the bars. While adjustable dumbbells can save space and money, constantly adding and removing weight plates can become time consuming.
You can also purchase adjustable dumbbells, such as a PowerBlock or SelectTech, where both allow you to easily add and remove weight. To select the amount of weight you want to lift, you insert a pin into a hole or turn a dial to select the weight you want.
When you remove the dumbbell from the block, the dumbbell will contain only the amount of weight you selected.
Barbells are also a great addition that provides additional flexibility into your fitness training programs, since they allow you to lift heavier weights and vary your fitness training workouts.
You can purchase barbells with fixed weights, but barbells that consist of a bar that you can add weight plates to are more flexible and practical. There are different types of bars available, such as a standard bar or Olympic bar. A standard bar can vary in length from 5 to 7 feet, weighs around 20 pounds and is perfect for Home Gym use. An Olympic bar, which is about 7 feet in length and weights about 45 pounds, is usually used when working your larger muscle groups, such as your legs, back and chest.
The Olympic bar is also available in a shorter version which range from 5 to 6 feet in length and weight about 35 pounds. The shorter Olympic bar is usually used when working smaller muscle groups, such as shoulders, biceps and triceps. The bar you may use depends on the amount of weight you want to lift.
Plates for barbells are available in weights of 2.5 pounds to 45 pounds and can be stored on a weight tree that you can also purchase separately. You should also purchase collars that you can place on the ends of the bar to prevent the weights from slipping off during your lifts.
A mirror used in your fitness training weight program allows you to watch your form and technique, which is especially important when lifting free weights. You should use a full length mirror large enough to show your entire body. If the mirror stands to the floor, be careful about placing dumbbells or barbells where they can roll into the mirror and damage it.
A good quality flat bench or adjustable bench that can be converted from flat to a vertical position that incorporate different degrees of incline are also a great addition to any Home Gym. Before making your purchasing decision, inspect the bench carefully and test it in as many ways as you can by sitting or lying on the bench and adjusting the incline to make sure the mechanism works properly and is easy to use.
Fitness Bands or exercise tubing are an inexpensive way to help vary your workouts and also provide you an exercise medium that can be taken on the road with you when you travel for business or pleasure.
Exercise tubing is especially useful if you are short on space and cannot afford either the cost of free weight equipment or the area it takes up. While exercise bands will not give you the same results as good quality weight training, fitness bands are great for toning and defining your muscles.
Exercise balls are a great low cost and effective tool in your fitness training program. They are large balls that are inflatable and that can be used for a variety of fitness training exercises, including weight training and stretching. You can use an exercise ball as a replacement to your flat bench to add more challenge and variety to your fitness training programs and really help add a new difficulty level to your overall training.
Using an exercise ball helps improve your stability and balance by strengthening your core muscles, which include your lower back and abdominal muscles as well as engaging alot of your small stabilizer muscles.
Any good quality Home Gym setup should include some form of Cardiovascular equipment, as long as the space in your fitness training area allows it. You can purchase many of the cardiovascular machines used in your local gym to use in your Home Gym as well as some less expensive home gym versions.
Some popular cardiovascular machines include treadmills, stationary bikes, stair climbers, elliptical crosstrainers and rowing machines. If you do not have space in your Home Gym for a cardiovascular machine, you can still get your cardio in with a good workout by jumping rope, fast walking or even a run in the park.
An exercise mat helps provide support and a cushioning effect between your body and the floor to make floor exercises, such as abdominal crunches and stretching, more comfortable to complete. Unlike a towel or blanket, an exercise mat will not bunch up and most mats can be folded and stored in a corner or closet. When choosing an exercise mat, select one that is thick enough to protect your knees from digging into the floor when performing kneeling exercises and long enough to fit your entire body on the mat.
Equipment mats are usually placed beneath you exercise equipment to keep the equipment not only in place but to also protect the flooring or carpet that the equipment rests on. Mats are especially useful for cardiovascular equipment, such as treadmills or elliptical machines.
Mats help reduce vibrations that can wear down equipment and prevents dust and fibers from the floor or carpet from getting into any of the mechanical parts of your exercise equipment. You can also place a mat in the area where you lift free weights to protect your floor from accidents, such as a dropped free weight.
Since most people do not have enough room in their Home Gyms to accomodate different weight machines, the multigym, which combines several weight lifting stations into one machine, provides a practical solution. A multigym can give you a good overall weight training workout, but the machin is not as smooth as the commercial ones used in your local gym. Some multigyms have two weight stacks, so two people can workout at the same time. You should choose a multigym that is space-efficient and includes good safety features.
Make sure the frame and seats are sturdy and the pads are thick and durable. Try out the machine to ensure that moving parts, such as the weight stack, move smoothly, the machine adjusts easily to fit your body type and is comfortable and easy to use.
Booze Bust: Can Exercise and Alcohol Go Hand in Hand?
By Collette DeBenedetto
Summer (aka drinking) season is upon us—sun, fun, barbecues, and brewskis with your broskis. Ah, the good life. But with shirts off, where are you going to hide the burgers and beer? You wouldn't think of telling your buddies that you're passing up the booze to watch your weight because, let's be honest, you were Spring Break King of '93 and you have a reputation to uphold. How do you keep the six-pack, while still having fun? It's all about balance. You don't have to say no to all of the goodies, but you do need to make conscious choices to keep your days healthy. I would not recommend going cold turkey. This is not a "diet" or practice in social suicide; rather, this is a lifestyle change.
Evil spirits abound . . .
Just because you're logging hours on the treadmill and embarrassing Arnold in the weight room doesn't mean you can put the cast of Jersey Shore to shame in the bar and not have consequences. One does not cancel the other. There are some major side effects, including packed-on fat, slower recovery, and disrupted sleep, to name a few. It's common knowledge that alcohol is a powerful diuretic and can cause major electrolyte imbalances, which puts you at a much higher risk for musculoskeletal injuries and brain impairment. Other effects include altered reaction time, decreased testosterone levels, and sleep disturbance. Furthermore, alcohol is stored as fat in your body and destroys amino acids. When you've had one too many drinks, your body's glycolysis process becomes impaired. This means your body begins to produce lactic acid, causing a decline in energy, as well as decreased muscle recovery, and increased soreness.
In 2010, the University of Houston created a 3-week experiment on alcohol and exercise using rats. The scientists took a group of alcohol-loving rats and made half of them use running wheels while the other half stayed sedentary. Once the scientists took away the wheels, the active rats drank more alcohol than the sedentary rats. J. Leigh Leasure, PhD, told Fitbie that "it's possible that exercise could cause cross-tolerance to alcohol meaning, it may make alcohol less rewarding, so people would therefore drink more of it in order to get its feel-good effects." So the more curls you tackle in Back & Biceps may just have you wanting more 12-ounce curls on the weekend.
And whatever you do, don't pop a cold one post-exercise. When you work out, your blood sugar naturally drops. After you're finished, your body focuses on replacing your glycogen stores. If you consume alcohol post-workout, your glycogen stores will not be replaced since your body will be busy metabolizing alcohol, causing your blood sugar levels to stay at an unhealthy level. It's important to first replenish with a proper recovery drink post-workout, or alternative post-workout snack.
. . . And yet, we raise our glasses.
Regardless of these issues, most people reading this will still hoist a tankard this coming weekend. You can drink alcohol, have a social life, and still be healthy. Yes, I dared to say it. I promise. You do have to make choices and moderate those choices because after all, alcohol is made up of calories. And the calories usually don't stop at the alcohol. Think of the sugary mixers and the post-bar grub. How many times has eating cheese fries with gravy from a diner in North Jersey at 3 AM seemed like a "great idea"? The keys are in choices and in moderation.
Once you're at the barbecue or bar of choice, which drink do you choose? Let's take a look at your best bets from a caloric standpoint:
- Hard alcohol. Most distilled spirits have under 100 calories and limited carbohydrates in their 1.5 ounce serving size. If you can stick to hard alcohol with a 0-calorie mixer, your waistline will thank you. We recommend water or club soda. You can also use diet sodas or juices, but then you're getting into artificial sweetener territory. Proceed at your own peril.
- Wine (red/white/sparkling). A 5-ounce serving of wine will pack in about 100 calories. But be wary here. Many restaurants will pour larger servings.
- Light Beer. Light beers have limited calories and carbohydrates, which makes them a great choice for the calorie conscious. Look for brands that have under 100 calories in a 12-ounce serving.
When looking at what to stay away from, try to nix mixed drinks and full-calorie beers—although if you're not counting calories, full-calorie, craft-brewed beers are your best bet from a holistic perspective, in that they're made from naturally healthy ingredients and free of additives, fillers, and other chemicals. Mixed drinks are packed with syrups, sugars, and sodas that can easily add in hundreds of calories to your cocktail. And no, it's not healthy even if the mixer is made from fruit. That fruit is high in sugar! They may look and taste sweet, but mixed drinks can wreak havoc on your body. Fruit by itself is great for you, but I don't think the bartender at Joe Shmo's pub down the street is grating coconut and chopping up pineapple . . . he's probably mixing canned fruit juice. The reason why fruit by itself is good for you is because it packs FIBER with it, which helps slow the digestion and absorption of the fructose, or sugar. Fruit juices have all the sugar, but none of the fiber, leaving your insulin response to skyrocket and fall. Furthermore, sugar masks the taste of alcohol and you may not realize how much alcohol you're consuming.
When imbibing, try to alternate between alcoholic beverage and water. This will aid the absorption process; keep you hydrated; and help you slow down, keeping your alcohol intake to a moderate level. Plus, when your buddies are on drink number four, you'll only be on drink number two. At that point, they may be too drunk to notice or care that you're not drinking alcohol! If you want to look like you're still drinking, one of my favorite tricks is to just get a club soda or diet soda and garnish with lemon or lime. It gives the appearance that you're drinking so you won't have to explain yourself to anyone.
If you overdo it, that's okay. Overdoing it is not an excuse to jump into a downward spiral. It's an opportunity to recognize that you didn't like the outcome of something and you can change it moving forward. Perhaps, waking up in Tijuana after a night of too much tequila doesn't feel or look so good. Your body will remind you of that in the days following. Moving forward, recognize you may need to balance and make different choices in the future.
So how much is too much? The National Health Service of the UK recommends that men should limit their intake to 3 to 4 units a day (that's about 2 to 3 standard drinks here in the States) while women should limit their drinks to no more than 2 to 3 units a day (1 or 2 drinks). You can still lift weights and drink beer too, just don't think you'll be able to drink scotch like Ron Burgundy at night and train like Rocky the next day at the gym.