By Chris Malone

With Christmas and a festive lock-down fast approaching, avoiding alcohol could be key to maintaining your progress and starting 2021 in the right way.

Christmas is fast-approaching and with the new lockdown measures announced in Scotland coming into play from Boxing Day, it’s important to keep an eye on our alcohol intake for the sake of our waistlines – not to mention our overall physical and mental wellbeing.

Christmas and New Year is usually party season and while 2020 will be different from all other years in living memory, it’s inevitable that some of us will be tempted to imbibe more booze than we normally would – but how will this impact our guts and overall health as we look forward to 2021?

We’ve all heard the term ‘Beer Belly’ and according to DrinkAware, a pint of 4% beer contains 182 kcals – akin to running for more than 18 minutes. Cider is even worse at 216 kcals per pint, while a  175ml glass of red wine contains a delicious 159 kcals. One of the issues with lockdown is that we tend to free pour when serving our drinks, so a ‘glass’ of wine might actually contain 1/3 of a bottle or more! One bottle of the red stuff contains about 636 kcals – enough to keep you on the treadmill for more than an hour and the equivalent of scoffing a couple of dirty cheeseburgers.

Spirits tend to be a lower calorie option if you take them neat, but if you mix with full-fat mixers then the calories can mount up. One 25ml measure of spirits contains approximately 61 calories, but the free pouring nature of lockdown and Christmas means this can easily get up into 3 figures per glass.

The table below from the British Nutrition Foundation gives a more comprehensive breakdown:
Smokin Guns Fitness AnXk_eV8McBVuHYrZkbAnE0GJNm0y5QBlXXqM-3UkrLsptVykIFmo2mLKnCO9ygH5Ae4Zn5BNAOv1le_L13pVzAh0O445igem2Ge0EXFTFLXPeYdSp7rjDH13JMkGvhKWrRjbUUcswz-nWLZHA Alcohol vs Fitness Progress

Caloric deficits can be undone by binge drinking

Your fitness journey can suffer serious setbacks when binge drinking comes into play. While we’re all allowed a ‘cheat day’ now and again, it shouldn’t mean going all out with eating and drinking everything you can get your hands on. Someone working at a caloric deficit of 500 kcals Monday-Friday (good on you if that’s you!) can undo all of their good work at the weekend by consuming a few too many drinks.

A bottle of wine on a Friday and Saturday night adds about 1,274 kcals to the week’s total and if that comes with a takeaway, crisps, sweets, or any other calorie-dense foods, you can quickly wave goodbye to that 2,500 kcal deficit you’ve built up through the week and any fat loss progress you might have been working towards.

Furthermore, excess alcohol can increase the risk of developing a ‘fatty liver’, which means your metabolism slows and you could end up storing more energy as fat.

Mental Health Considerations

2020 has been a mental health gauntlet for many of us. The loss of jobs, relationships, social circles, health, homes and even loved ones can be devastating to people’s mental health and it’s all too tempting to reach for a bottle of something when things get too much. However, alcohol is a known depressant and can have a detrimental effect on our mental health – especially in the long run. We’re not out of the woods yet with Covid-19 and if we want to avoid the physical and psychological trauma that the first lockdown brought with it for many, it might be best to attack ScotLock 3.0 with a clear mind and set out some goals and a healthy plan of what you will consume over the coming weeks. Goal-setting, prepping and planning make good decisions come easier on a consistent basis. 

For now, I wish you a very merry (but relatively sober) Christmas and happy New Year!