Yet when it comes to achieving our goals, alcohol is probably one of the most common limiting factors, because people generally don’t know how to allow for the calories within their diet.
Alcohol is one of the most calorific macronutrients for our bodies to have to process, with it being 7 calories per gram consumed.
When we consume alcohol, our bodies prioritise Alcohol over our other fuel sources (fats and carbs), which is why we tend to not feel too good when we’ve had a drink... to put it nicely.
As we all know, when we’re not feeling too brilliant we may see ourselves slipping with our nutrition the following day because we can’t be bothered cooking.
In order to keep on track with our goals it’s important for us to have a plan
A goal without a plan is just a wish!
When it comes to Alcohol there’s lots of ways we can do this, so I’m going to jump in to a few of those options available to us.
One of the most common methods is Calorie Borrowing.
This entails taking calories from days during the week, and
saving them for the day you're planning on having a drink.
For example, lets say your calorie target throughout the
week is 1500 calories per day.
If you took 200 calories from each week day, so Monday to
Friday, that would allow you an extra 1000 calories for your weekend.
That's 1000 calories you can do what you want with to enjoy that will not affect fat loss.
When it comes to losing body fat a weekly calorie target is as important as the day to day - so if you create a calorie deficit over the week, even if you go over your daily calories on 3 days in the week, you will lose body fat.
Lets go deeper.
We have worked out your daily calorie deficit to lose 1lbs of body fat per week to be 1500 per day.
That would be 10,500 calories per week.
Lets say Friday and Saturday you have 2000 calories with alcohol consumed Friday and Saturday.
That's 1000 too many.
Another method we can use is fasting. We can use fasting in the day or so leading up to
when we’re going to be drinking. As an example, if your daily calorie target was 1500 and
you split them up evenly over breakfast, lunch and dinner- that would give you 500 calories
for each meal. You could skip on of your meals the day before which would give you an
extra 500 calories, and then the same on the day you were drinking, that would allow you
an extra thousand calories for your drinking.
Something else we can do with our preparation during the week is making sure we have
nutritious food readily available for us the following day and the day leading in to our
drinking. This is going to reduce the chance of us resorting to high calorific, fast foods when
we’re hungover. In a worst-case scenario, if we do resort to fast food, again when possible,
allow for this when we’re calorie borrowing/ fasting throughout the week to save our
When making healthy environments to form habits get friends and family involved in the process, let them know your plan and see if they can support you.
Nothing is harder than sticking to a healthy eating plan when family brings you a big cake or bottle of wine every weekend.
Research shows that you tend to mirror the habits of those around you, so if friends and family share similar habits it can help the process.
As well as helping you taking up healthy habits it helps others too!
A win win.
We want to try and alter our environment so the healthy choice becomes the easy one.
Have easy healthy snacks to hand, and make the unhealthy ones be ones you have to prepare or even bake.
The more steps between you and the unhealthy habit, the harder it is to fall back to it.
Now we have our habits up and running, track and refine the process as you go.
You won't nail every aspect from the get go and that's okay.
Document the journey and reflect, write down what goes well, e.g. “I managed to avoid my nightly packet of hobnobs and cut it down to 5, I put them on a plate and sat down before I ate”.
That's progress in the right direction and a win!
Write down any barrier you hit along the way, and how you plan to overcome them. E.g. “I found myself going back for more hobnobs later on and finishing the packet anyway.
I plan to only buy one packet a week now so if I overeat I have none left for the rest of the week, and i'm too lazy to go to shop for more.”
We can learn so much from the things that trip us up and we may consider failures, the more we can overcome and work around, the more robust and bulletproof our healthy habits become!
There are some great apps to help you out with habit tracking on the app store too!
They can send you reminders, track streaks and streamline the tracking process.
Streaks (works with apple watches too!)
and Habitica which 'gamifies' habit tracking if that's your cup of tea.
Top Tip: Reward your progress.
Now I don’t mean giving yourself a cake for not having a cake today, nice try though.
Pick a reward that won’t sabotage your habits.
Set a goal of 2 weeks sticking to the habit unbroken and reward yourself with a bag you’ve been wanting to buy, or something else you have wanted, maybe an experience day.
Having a reward at the end will help you stick to those habits easier, and if you can commit for a few weeks, that habit is likely to stick too.
To build the healthy habits you need to shift the Lockdown lbs and get yourself back on track, you must be patient.
You will slip up, you will even go backwards at some points, and you may have to keep going back and altering the plan slightly.
But each time you change and adapt your mindset and process, you slowly chisel away at your goals to reveal a beautiful habit at the end of it all.
Don’t expect it to be easy, or happen overnight, if it could you wouldn't be reading this.
However, it can be done, and you can do it.
Stick to the checklist below which will summarise the main points covered and use it as your checklist for success:
1. Identify existing habits
2. Clarify your goals
3. Plan the change
4. Ask for support
5. Track your progress (and reward it)