Drinking large quantities of alcohol negatively impacts fitness in more ways than simply adding ‘empty calories’. Laura Bajurny looks at how alcohol could be counteracting your clients’ hard work at the gym.
As your clients emerge from lockdown and try to get back on track with their fitness goals, there’s one behaviour change that could positively impact their results straightaway – drinking less.
There are many benefits associated with reduced alcohol intake, including getting a better night’s sleep, saving money and reducing feelings of stress and anxiety. Perhaps a lesser-recognised benefit, though, is how drinking less can mean better results in the gym.
Despite implementing a dedicated exercise routine and healthy eating plan, many would agree we don’t always see our efforts rewarded as fast as we’d like. For those that drink alcohol, those Friday night beers or weekend wines could be part of the reason.
While the effects of alcohol on weight varies significantly between individuals, the Better Health Channel suggests alcohol can affect weight gain because kilojoules from alcohol are actually burnt first, which may result in kilojoules from food being stored as fat if a person has exceeded their recommended daily intake.
Alcoholic drinks can also be can be high in kilojoules and might lead your clients to inadvertently exceed their recommended daily intake despite proactively ‘eating better’ at mealtimes and snacking more healthily. Some might also find themselves hungrier when they drink alcohol, or making poorer food choices after drinking.
What’s more, the effects of alcohol consumption on an individual’s body can often last until the next day, impacting that next gym session. Research from the National Strength and Conditioning Association found hangover symptoms produced by alcohol include electrolyte imbalance, hypoglycemia, gastric irritation, vasodilation and sleep disturbances, which can make gym sessions feel a lot harder – or be the reason clients send you that last minute cancellation text.
With the Australian National University recently finding that 20% of those surveyed had upped their alcohol consumption during the pandemic, some may have noticed the arrival of an extra ‘COVID kilo’ or two.
The Australian Millennial Report also discovered weight loss and fitness is one of the main health goals for around half of young people aged 25-35 years old, yet only 10% said they wanted to reduce or stop their alcohol intake.
With all of this in mind, it’s fair to suggest that increased alcohol consumption could be hindering your clients in their attempts to reach personal health and fitness goals. While you don’t want to tell clients how to live their lives or to abstain from drinking alcohol responsibly and in moderation, you could help them enhance their training outcomes by highlighting the many benefits of reduced consumption.
CELEBRATING THE BENEFITS OF LESS BOOZE
In a bid to support people in achieving their health goals, including better results in the gym, the Alcohol and Drug Foundation is keen to share the many benefits that can come from reducing alcohol intake. It’s #CelebrateYOU campaign focuses on encouraging young adults, particularly those that may have increased their drinking during lockdown, to celebrate the benefits of drinking less.
For more information, visit adf.org.au/celebrateyou/
An Information Officer at the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, Laura Bajurny is keen for fellow millennial women to recognise and celebrate the health and wellbeing benefits of drinking less alcohol.