Choosing your Christmas Tipple

Britons drink 41% more alcohol in December than any other month of the year, recent studies have shown.

With the party season approaching, you may notice your own drinking and eating habits changing. But does it really matter if you have a few more nights out and chocolate for breakfast? And is there a happy medium between waking up nursing a sore head and sitting in the corner sipping fizzy water?

The more drinks you have, the more your judgment often becomes… slightly impaired, give it a few weeks and your colleagues might let you forget those dance moves at the Christmas Party, but your body and your mood won’t let you forget that kebab you ate on the way home!

Drinking causes weight gain for a number of reasons;

  1. You physically take in more calories in less time
  2. Alcohol causes fat-burning to be inhibited, causing an increase in fat storage
  3. Rational thinking is diminished, which alongside questionable dance moves can lead to poor food choices
  4. Blood sugar is affected, meaning you crave sugary, carb-rich foods

It’s Christmas, I am going to drink…. so what’s better for me; spirits, wine or beer?

We can’t say that one type of alcohol is any better for you than another; it’s the units that count. 0-7 units a week does not seem to damage your health, but once you get over 14 units a week, the more you drink the more cognitive decline will show up in memory tests and MRI studies.

A study in the British Medical Journal, gathering the responses of alcohol to 30,000 individuals, found that different types of alcohol could cause you to feel different emotions.

Red wine was found to elicit the following emotions;

53% felt relaxed

60% felt sleepy

28% boosted confidence

7% energised

Beer was found to cause;

50% to feel relaxed

39% be sleepy

45% boosted confidence

25% energised

People who consumed Spirits reported;

20% felt relaxed

11% felt sleepy

58% energised

59% confident

But before you reach for that bottle, you may want to know that participants who drunk spirits reported the highest rate of aggression – 33%, compared to only 7% of beer drinkers and only 3% in wine drinkers. 48% people fell ill after drinking liquor and 22% of spirit drinkers also reported tearfulness.

The reason for these responses is unclear, but it is speculated that it may be due to physiological reactions to the non-alcoholic ingredients that make up these drinks for example melatonin in red wine could explain the increased feeling of sleepiness and the high carbohydrate content in beer could explain this phenomena too.

If you want to enjoy a few drinks, without your health and training going off the rails, here are a few tips to keep you on track;

  • Before you go out, set a limit of how many drinks you are going to allow yourself and stick to this limit!
  • Eat before going out and make sure you are hydrated; this will lessen your chances of excess drinking due to thirst and over-doing it on the party food!
  • Try and pour your own drinks, if your drink is constantly being topped up, it’s hard to keep track of how much alcohol you’re drinking.
  • If you are in the habit of raiding the fridge after a heavy night, make sure you have something moderately healthy waiting for you back at home!

With a little planning and preparation you can still enjoy a drink at Christmas without regretting it in the New Year (or the next morning!).

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