One tequila, two tequila, three tequila…FLOOR. Yep, you guessed it! In honor of the Irish debauchery due to take place this weekend, today, we are talking about BOOZE! Most of us drink it, half admit to it, and the other half, it’s just a part of life. I am one of those that enjoys red wine, a gin cocktail and even a pour of scotch… and one point A LOT of beer (we’ll get to my alcohol evolution later). I get a lot of questions regarding how alcohol fits into fitness and nutrition and the answer isn’t so easy to give. If I adopt Jake’s philosophy, the answer is to not drink at all, as he sees alcohol as a complete deterrent to good health and wellness, as it’s not a part of his life. Some other trainers that do drink, may have lower calorie drink suggestions and preach moderation is the key.
Even in the marketplace right now, there are “diet” drinks that are geared towards the fitness conscious, which to some degree really doesn’t meet its mark (getting to that in a bit as well). Fact is, booze packs empty calories, carbs and sugars to your diet that is going to affect your fitness and nutrition. Since we all aren’t going to abstain, we should at least be informed of what’s really in our drinks, what people want us to think and maybe rethink what is a “healthy” choice.
Since I write from experience, I figure I should start by telling you about my own alcohol evolution. I touched on this before in a previous blog, but I didn’t have my first taste of alcohol until I was 22. I didn’t grow up with it in my house with my parents or my social circles, thus it was never really on my radar in college. I was never tempted to drink in college, I just wanted to graduate and be an adult. Once I started living in the city and working, I finally started to try different things and ultimately I made up for lost time. Up until 2 years ago, I never measured how much I drank and what it was doing to my body. I could easily drink 8 heavy wheat beers for dinner and not even blink an eye. Then one day, I looked in the mirror and saw how my face looked swollen and bloated which matched my stomach. I wasn’t an alcoholic, I was just disgusted as to how much imbalance I had in my own life, it’s not an easy thing to admit.
I gained weight, my skin looked awful and I just felt like crap. Of course then, I found Jake to create balance in my life between exercise and booze. I thought if I work out enough and drink what I drink, I’ll be good to go. Yeah, not so much. I wasn’t going anywhere! I wasn’t gaining, but even worse, I wasn’t losing anything. I had to make changes to my alcohol intake in quantity and in type. Jake never told me to stop, but he also never told me to be as I was. Jake himself doesn’t drink, as his philosophy is that why put something in your body that takes away from your wellness?…(which by the way, as much as I give him crap for it, I have the utmost respect for him as it’s not easy to keep that resolve!) Most of us drink socially because it’s fun, but fun doesn’t have to hurt your body. He also preaches that alcohol is a deterrent, it’s ultimately weight that holds people back. Those last 2 inches or 10 lbs you want to lose, it could be those happy hour beers you may have to sacrifice. Fitness and nutrition aren’t just going to the gym and a diet plan, it’s a lifestyle that will require you to make permanent changes, which is ultimately what I did. I cut out the beer, simple as that. By doing so, I was able to see results not only physically, but I felt my body feel stronger as did my endurance. The irony is that the moment I had achieved balance; my body wouldn’t process beer as it used to. So what was initially a temporary adjustment became a permanent change in my lifestyle. I no longer can drink 8 heavy beers for dinner, my body won’t let me. Now my case is going to be different than your own, because everyone’s bodies are the same. As much as we hate to admit it, deep down, we know that not drinking is the healthiest choice, otherwise we wouldn’t “detox” for 2 weeks or 21 days. WE KNOW that not putting those toxins in our bodies benefits us, but we also adhere to social norms, which I personally still do as well with WINE…….yum.
White, Pink, Sparkling or my favorite, Red… wine is totally the elixir of the gods. If given a choice, I choose wine over all other forms of alcohol. Being a chef, wine is a huge part of my own job and my industry. I love a good glass of wine that enhances a dish and even a wine that I can sip on just while I’m working. Wine, for those that have been living under a rock, comes from fermented grapes. It’s a natural process that produces a barely tampered with product. There are rarely added sugars or flavors in wine as most of it is derived from the fruit, soil and water itself. The alcohol content comes from the fermented yeast and barrel aging process…YEAH SCIENCE! Wine is proven to have some health benefits for women and men in different ways, but don’t rest your wine addiction on that! There are antioxidants in red wine that are linked to heart disease prevention and weight loss. However, like all booze, wine has empty calories. My favorite drinkable Malbec from Alamos Winery has 122 calories and 4 grams of carbs per 6-ounce pour. Not bad as it’s a naturally derived product, with no added sugars. The thing is that I don’t drink wine for scientific reasons or because it fits into my “points” for the day. I drink wine because I ENJOY it. I love trying new wines, dissecting wines and even want to make my own. It’s a part of my life that I balance with my fitness and nutrition and yes, Jake is completely aware of it. I look as wine as a “healthy” choice of alcohol for me and my body, and I do what I need to do so I can continue to be fit and a lush 😉
BEER….so this culprit is really what got me to my breaking point. The thing is though I won’t hate on beer, as I still do like it and drink it, just not as much. The craft beer wave has really taken the world by storm over this last decade. We aren’t just drinking ales and lagers any more, Toto. Every varietal has a varietal and craft brewers are diving in even further. The thing with beer is it’s higher in calories and carbs and sometimes sugar, but also that it’s more drinkable than wine or cocktails. It’s a highly social beverage and easy to lose count of how many you’ve had. I think one of the biggest misnomers about beer is that the lighter in color it is, the better it is for you. Ummm, no. How many of you think that Guinness is worse for you than Budweiser??? Yeah, thought so…. truth is Guinness has half the carbs than Budweiser, but is 100 times as dark! Stouts aren’t heavy beers and ales and lagers aren’t as light as they look! One of my summer favorites, Bell’s Oberon has a whopping 14g of carbs versus the 5.6 in Guinness! Of course, the light dark thing is one measurement and has its exceptions. What really gets me though are people that go drink light beers post workout. It’s not the drinking part I have an issue with, it’s the choice of beverage…either Miller 64 or cider. Let’s talk about Miller 64….so, it has 64 calories, less than 3g of carbs…looks great on paper, right? Yeah, well, we don’t drink paper, we drink beer and that’s piss water with an abv of 2.8% (my morning pee after a night out has a higher abv…. just saying) and $4 a pop. Here’s the thing, it’s never just one, I see 6 consumed in one sitting! So that comes to 384 calories, 15 g of carbs and well a tasteless buzz, $24 later. What’s the point? Why wouldn’t you drink Oberon at 170 calories, 14 g of carbs, 5.8% abv and tastes like sunshine and summer?? To me that says that you don’t really enjoy beer and its glorious range, you are drinking because you are at a bar and don’t want to be left out and somehow think that taking down 6 crappy beers is better for you than one really good one. Is that really better for you? Now…ciders…they have been around forever, but lately have become more mainstream. A cider is not a beer; I can’t tell you how many people think that it is. Ciders are basically a wine, made from fermented apples or pears, really popular with the paleo fitness crowd, as there are no grains involved in the fermenting process. Unlike wine, most ciders have added sugars and flavorings that just totally undo any so called healthy aspect. Angry Orchard Hard Cider has 210 calories, 30g of carbs that stem from 24g of sugar. So tell me again, why you are drinking cider? Yeah…kinda changed your tune on it being healthier than Oberon. I don’t particularly like ciders, but not all are that bad. Vandermill adds fresh blueberries to the fermenting process to create flavor and sweetness, anything additional is an added “flavor salt” that dissolves into the mixture without adding to the natural sugar count. A can of Vandermill Blue Gold is 280 calories, 22g of carbs of which only 12g comes from sugars, now there’s a better option, and it tastes like a fresh field of summer berries in a can, it’s so good! It’s gluten free, tastes amazing and relatively a better option, now that I can get on board with! I’m not here to make fun of anyone or to judge you on your choices, but ask yourself why you are drinking what you are drinking? Do you enjoy what you are drinking, then the calories are worth it! If you are drinking light beer because it’s the “healthy” choice, you might want to reconsider.
Now, I am going to talk about the one thing that screws everyone up…spirits. I think spirits are the most misunderstood libation ever. The problem isn’t the spirit itself, it’s what’s mixed with it and how it’s consumed. Spirits for the most part are distilled grain in the form of mash. They all start the same, it’s the after that sets them apart. Vodka is technically odorless and colorless, and now is the perfect sponge for any and every flavor imaginable. I can’t even begin to count the numerous amounts of flavored vodkas that exist, it’s nauseating. Smoked Salmon Vodka….seriously? That’s stupid and disgusting. I don’t even understand the point as most flavored vodkas are never consumed straight, always mixed and masked with something else. So, tell me again why we are catering to the flavored vodka craze? I personally hate that stuff and prefer Svedka or Tito’s n my bloody mary and just move on with my day. What gets me are the people that drink vodka water and tell me it’s because it’s healthier. A typical pour of vodka has 60 calories, adding water to that does not decrease the calorie count, water isn’t a negative integer. So whether I shoot it, sip it straight or on the rocks, we are still consuming the same amount of calories. That ridiculous rhetoric makes me angry. Why are you drinking that? Is it really because you are a lightweight and want to drink for a longer period of time? Why not just drink water? You clearly have an issue holding your booze as it is. I hate when people drink just to drink, again, if you don’t enjoy it, why are you doing it? Screw vodka, I drink gin anyhow! LOL!! Now, that brings me to a product called “Skinny Girl”…just awful. Have you tasted one of these premixed drinks? Their whole notion is to appeal to the “dieting” crowd and now fitness people are jumping on board! I didn’t know that I had to trade in my taste buds for dumbbells when I started training!!!!! This stuff taste like aspartame exploded all over a lime. It’s so gross, you burp it up for hours after you drink it! Numbers wise, here’s the deal…one ounce of it is 30 calories, but it’s not a spirit, it’s ready-to-serve beverage, which means that the typical pour to about 5oz which makes it a 150 calorie drink…ummm, yeah, skinny my ass. However, the best is when I get looks for drinking darker spirits like rum and I get the “really? that’s not healthy” look! A lot of people think that rum, bourbon, scotch are all bad for you because they are darker. Hmm, let’s take a look at the facts shall we? Rum is a spirit made from distilled sugarcane. SUGAR, is that what gets them? I don’t know, but the calorie count on a typical pour of rum is 69 calories…. I didn’t know I could undo my fitness life by 9 extra calories…similarly, I like scotch and whiskey and most pours are about 70 calories as well. Truth is, nothing is better or worse for you when you drink a pure spirit. Sure, mixing it with mixers, other spirits, bitters, etc. makes it a more “unhealthy” drink, but at least I enjoy it as much as a smooth pour of an 18 yr. scotch, the calories aren’t my concern at that point. So please stop passing your watered down vodka as a fitness drink because you can’t hold your own liquor and for GOD’S SAKE stop drinking that fake ass crap that is marketed to make you feel guilty.
Ok, so I understand that some of you hate me for dogging on your Miller 64 and vodka water and I know some of you gasped at my hatred for Skinny Girl….this is because I don’t believe in “diet” drinking. I believe that there are healthier choices than others, but that doesn’t mean that it’s good for you. Jake will always preach that no alcohol is the best alcohol, and let’s be honest, he’s right (I know this is going to come back and haunt me). I drink my wine, gin and scotch because I enjoy it and not because it’s something that I am “expected” to do. The recommendations I gave to you today are based on numbers and little biased, maybe, based on my taste. The fact remains that booze is a luxury, a guilty pleasure and to some as common as water (Europe, not alcoholics). Let people drink what they want to, my purpose today was to inform you of the trends I see, the truth behind them and ultimately what my own opinions are. I hope I opened your eyes to some things you didn’t know, but I know some of you hate me right now because of that very reason. It’s ok, there is no template to this, and no norms, just know your own body, know what you want and ENJOY what you drink! I know I do 🙂
Salúd! Sláinte! Prost!
P.S. I thought it appropriate to always remind all of you to never get behind the wheel intoxicated or even buzzed or to let someone else, please have a designated driver, call a cab, Uber…whatever, it may just save your life or someone else’s.