It may come as no surprise, but alcohol is not a health elixir.
It can reduce muscle growth, slow recovery and add to your calorie load. Essentially, alcohol is your fitness frenemy, with well-documented short and long-term impacts on your heart, liver and many other areas of your body.
However, as the weather warms and the social occasions begin to pile up – along with the cocktails – having a few hacks in your back pocket can help ensure your fitness train isn’t derailed. Explore 4 tips to make your delicious cocktails a little bit healthier. And remember, try to drink in moderation – your body will thank you.
Choose soda water over tonic water
While both have ‘water’ in their name, equal they are not. Tonic water, which is a very popular cocktail ingredient, can be high in sugar or high-fructose syrup. Whereas soda water, also known as sparkling water, is simply water that’s been carbonated i.e. carbon dioxide is added. So instead of ordering a gin and tonic on a hot day, swap out the tonic for soda water and a slice of lemon or lime.
Add juice or ice instead of ‘soft’ drinks
Whether it’s the coke in your Long Island ice tea or whiskey, or the lemonade in your daiquiri – the sugar-filled soft drinks can add up quickly. And you could be consuming multiple teaspoons of sugar after just a few drinks. So instead, choose cocktails that have juice as the sweetener. A few juicy cocktail examples include:
- Vodka and orange
You can also ask the bartender to simply add more ice and less soft drink, or try it ‘on the rocks’ – complete with your best Don Draper impersonation.
Explore a lower calorie option
When it comes to calories, not all cocktails are created equally. Many popular cocktail choices, such as Long Island ice tea, Margarita and Pina Colada typically have the most calories. So, instead of reaching for your usual cocktail order, why not try something different? Below are a few healthier, low-cal cocktail options:
- Sazerac. From New Orleans, Sazerac is a ‘stiff’ drink made with rye whiskey and dashes of bitters, sugar and absinthe.
- Old Fashioned. A cocktail classic, this is simply a must-try. It’s made using whiskey, bitters, sugar and soda water – with an orange slice added for those who want to look effortlessly cool.
- Paloma. If you’re a Margarita drinker, then you’ll love its low-cal cousin, the Paloma. With tequila at its base, lime and grapefruit juice make the Paloma a zesty, refreshing choice.
- Mojito. Another classic, Mojitos are a popular choice in summer due to its zesty lime and minty fresh flavour. With white rum at its base, you can choose to dial up or down the amount of sugar you add.
Order a glass of water with your next cocktail
Cocktails are often higher in alcohol, compared to other standard drinks, such as wine or beer. This means you may feel the effects more, both immediately and the next day. One way to make sure you enjoy yourself and avoid a hangover is to have a glass of water in between drinks.
Alcohol is a diuretic. Meaning, it dehydrates you. This can not only cause and exacerbate a hangover, but it also slows your recovery from a workout. Staying hydrated is one of the best ways to help sore muscles. So, if you want to ‘have your cocktail and enjoy it too’, then make sure you balance it out a little by having a few glasses of water in between. The tomorrow you will thank you.
Knowing where to start, both in terms of exercise and nutrition can be tough. That’s why you don’t need to do it alone. A Virgin Active personal trainer can help guide you to achieve both your exercise and nutrition goals, helping you feel healthier sooner. And remember, by making a few healthier cocktail choices, you can still enjoy the summer silly season without blowing your hard-earned fitness gains. Book a free tour of your nearest Virgin Active club today.