This time of year is really awesome. The sun is shining bright (I can’t remember a better summer), everyone is naturally happier, after work drinks are increasing and all day sunny drinking sessions are in full flow. However, it is a particularly challenging time in terms of ‘staying on track’ with health & fitness. Here are my top tips for managing everything…short, sweet and to the point.
1. Earn your drinking session
- Get your workout in early – realistically good weather means evening workouts can easily become a write off. No-one wants to sack off sunny drinks for the gym.
- Get in a pre-emptive workout BEFORE you go and enjoy yourself – it’s always easier to smash a session, feel great and then enjoy yourself vs trying to recover retrospectively (cue ‘guilt cardio’ – it’s not healthy or a half assed muscle build session that won’t aid results)
2. Plan where possible
- Use off days wisely – plan your week out and get workouts in earlier in the week when things are generally quieter.
- If looking for fat loss ‘save’ some calories during the week – this way you have more to ‘spend’ on the weekend – as long as your weekly target is on point.
- Make smart decisions – throughout the day, make smart decision on nutrition to give yourself allowances for the evening and set yourself up for success macro-wise. An indulgent breakfast and lunch isn’t going to help if you have a big night ahead!
3. Be drink aware
- Make wise choices (or at least educated ones) – see some comparisons for reference at the bottom of this post on calorie differences between drinks.
- Bring your own – BYO to picnics / events where permitted, this enables you to have more control on what you drink. It’s also cheaper too – no-one likes paying 10 quid for a Pimms (the people at Wimbledon are really taking the p***).
- Choose your colour – generally darker drinks produce worse hangovers and are more calorific (not the same for everyone). Stick to what you know and what work for you and avoid mixing where possible.
- Take spacers – there is no harm in downing a quick glass of water in between rounds – you will appreciate it the next day.
4. Eat right beforehand
- Don’t consume unnecessary calories – just because you’re drinking doesn’t mean you have to ‘carb load’ to cope with the evening ahead or have a double helping at lunch ‘just in case’ there might not be anything available later – let’s be honest, there usually is (and will be).
- Skip breakfast – potentially skip breakfast on the day and the following day to help you recover lost calories. This can easily be a 1000 calorie saver!
- Get your macros on point – specifically for those on muscle build programs – you want to almost over index on your protein during the day if you know it will be limited later on.
5. Understand repercussions
- Understand the consequences that come off the back of a session – make allowances and educated decisions. Some areas that will always trip people up:
- mindless snacking as you drink – crisps, nuts, olives etc. – do you really need these?
- late night food pit stops – fast food and fizzy drinks – consider reducing the high fat / high calorie items like chips / cheese / sauce
- ‘one for the road’ – is that always necessary or will it just tip you over the edge?
- hangover ‘cures’ or ‘rituals’ – see point 6
- your attitude on a hangover – if you aren’t the type of person to get up and go on a hangover, don’t kid yourself you are and schedule workout plans accordingly. We’ve all had a mate in the pub say they’ll be up at the crack of dawn for the gym! Never happens!
6. Recover like a pro
- Hangovers can be horrible – shy of not drinking as much (always an option!), there are several ways you can make life easier for yourself – try and start instilling some healthy habits into your routine:
- stay hydrated whilst you drink
- drink a pint of water before bed
- appreciate sleep and grab a nap or go to bed earlier the following day
- hydrate throughout the following day – drinks with added electrolytes can help or take a rehydration sachet
- make sure you move – if not the gym, get outside and go for a walk – exercise really helps!
- Ask yourself if that filthy fry up that’s enough for 3 people actually sorts you out – consider alternatives:
- try a healthier version of the good stuff and add healthy fats instead – grill instead of fry, add some avocado, eggs are always a winner
- consider a fruit smoothie – bananas and kiwis are great as they contain potassium which your body loses. Try adding coconut water for rehydration.
7. See it as a challenge
- Build it in – Socialising (and often drinking depending on your preferences) is a big part of life and something that we need to balance health and fitness with. Find ways of coping and form healthy habits that work for you to make it sustainable. You can 100% still get results and have a great social life. Plus, whats the point in getting great results if you haven’t got a great balance with friends and family? Also, let’s face it – when the summer is over xmas drinks are on the horizon so we better find a way to manage it!
8. And remember…
- Enjoy it, summer won’t last forever – use the above top tips to form some healthy habits that will see you through
- Don’t feel guilty – if occasionally things go out the window, so be it – enjoy yourself, crack on and don’t feel guilty
- One day isn’t going to undo all your hard work
- Be flexible – a plan is only going to work successfully long term if it works with your lifestyle – imo, flexible dieting is the way forwards.
Right, off to the pub for a beer!
Calorie estimates for reference
Small glass of wine 80 – 140 kcals
Large glass of wine 160 – 220 kcals
Glass of prosecco 70 – 90 kcals
Glass of champagne 70 – 90 kcals
Pint of beer 200 – 220 kcals
Bottle of beer 125 – 160 kcals
Pint of cider 200 – 220 kcals
Bottle of fruit cider 200 – 250 kcals
Spirit and mixer 120 – 160 kcals
Spirit and diet mixer 50 – 80 kcals
Pimms and lemonade 125 kcals
Tequila 65 kcals
Jagerbomb 160 kcals
Espresso Martini approx. 290 kcals
Mojito approx. 250 kcals
Pina Colada approx. 500 kcals
Sugary cocktail up to 700 kcals
Baileys 130 kcals
Calories in the alcohol itself are affected by the %ABV