Friday Fitness Tip on the Fly - drink it up

They say that water is life, and since your body is 60% water, that statement couldn't be truer.  Every sober doctor would tell you to always drink plenty of water for hydration, especially on hot days, when exercising, or while feeling ill.  The USGS lists the following essential functions that water plays to keep you going:

  • A vital nutrient to the life of every cell, acts first as a building material.
  • It regulates our internal body temperature by sweating and respiration
  • The carbohydrates and proteins that our bodies use as food are metabolized and transported by water in the bloodstream;
  • It assists in flushing waste mainly through urination
  • acts as a shock absorber for brain, spinal cord, and fetus
  • forms saliva
  • lubricates joints

And to add to that list, water keeps you satiated.  If you somehow down a half gallon of water in one setting, you think you'll be able to stomach anything else?  Many dietitians actually recommend drinking at least a full glass of water before your meals to prevent over-eating as water has a fulling effect.  Also, try doing leg day or HIIT without water . . . suicide right there.  Most researchers recommend the 8x8 rule, which implies drinking at least 8 cups (8 ounces) of water per day, which comes out to half a gallon a day.  But for those of us gym rats, we should be getting double that since we can lose up to 8 cups of water during intense workouts.

So we all know the importance of water in keeping us alive, healthy, and even lean.  But admittedly so, water doesn't taste great.  I can't think of anyone who looks forward to downing water for the sake of our taste buds in the same way that we fall victim to cheater foods like pizza, burgers, and cookies.  But many of us do look forward to alcoholic beverages, which can definitely be cheater drinks in themselves, especially when you consider that a 12-ounce serving of stout or ale contains 200 calories, which is more than a sugary Coke.  When it comes to macros, alcohol is in a league of its own with 7 calories per gram, which is second to fat and almost twice as calorie dense as carbs and proteins.  So a 1.5-ounce shot of Vodka has 96 calories, and that's before factoring in the fillers and sweeteners.  So is possible to down alcoholic drinks without cheating?

200 calories just like that...

Like all foods, excess of anything is a bad thing and will lead to extra fat being stored in your body.  But if you fancy alcoholic drinks, you can do so in moderation without "cheating" provided that you reach for the "leaner" drinks.  For example, light beers like Amstel Light Lager, Corona Premier, Michelob Ultra, and Miller Lite all contain under 100 calories and around 3 grams of net carbs, which is half the quantity as stouts and ales.  Likewise, instead of drenching your favorite liquor with sugary juices and sodas, go for a rum and diet Coke or a gin and diet tonic, both which would set you back under 100 calories.  Some key points to remember when ordering or creating your drink is to opt for the fresh juices with no added sugar, club soda, sparkling water, or diet drinks with zero calories.  Doing so can easily shave over 100 calories off your drink as most of the calories will be coming from just the liquor itself.

If you like the taste of beer and don't mind the alcohol, ANA serves zero calorie and alcohol-free beer, even in economy class.  Suntory All-Free can also be purchased at most Japanese supermarkets and convenience stores.

And if you're a wine enthusiast, champagne tastes great and is arguably the healthiest option with its antioxidants at only 95 calories with 2 grams of net carbs.  Whites and reds will carry more calories and carbs, but generally are still only around 125 calories per serving.  One of the issues with wine though is the temptation of drinking an entire bottle once it's opened as it won't stay fresh by the next day or even in a few hours.  A typical 750-ml bottle of wine contains roughly five 5-ounce single servings, so you'd be looking at 625 calories if you drank the entire bottle.  This is when sharing is caring comes to play, as you can spread the calories among all the interested parties or partiers.

Eva Airlines' 2006 La Grande Dame champagne is a safe option.  And at $160 a bottle, why wouldn't you??

Bottom line

When you're out for work dinners or sitting in business class, you're almost expected to get those alcoholic drinks.  It also doesn't help that the flight attendants seemingly run to us with refills when our glasses become half full, and of course you feel bad declining since they're already present with an open bottle of wine.  But you can always play it safe by choosing the leaner drink options and pacing yourself in moderation.  The temptation may not go away, but your choices can mean the difference between >1,000 calories of 5 carb-heavy ales or <500 calories of 5 champagnes.


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