Often, the problem with abstinence is that it encourages yo-yo behavioural patterns. Dry January often turns into a sopping wet February; completely undoing any work done prior to this, but also giving yourself the ‘go-ahead’ to go all guns blazing because you’ve just had a ‘good month’. This binge-purge mentality is typical of UK culture, unlike much of the Continent where alcohol is ever-present but not over-indulged.
Therefore, for some of you reading, going dry will only reinforce this behaviour. According to the British Liver Trust, it’s better to avoid alcohol for a few days every week, all year, than have one booze-free month a year. If you do drink 14 or more units a week, it’s best to spread this evening over 3 or more days, rather than all in one night! If you are trying to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink, the NHS also emphasises that it’s a good idea to have several alcohol-free days each week.
When it comes to the health of your liver, alcohol consumption isn’t the only thing to consider. More exercise, for instance, burns fat in the liver, while eating a Mediterranean style diet, with more fruit, unsaturated fats, and wholegrains, whilst consuming less sugar will help it go about performing it’s 500-plus functions.
Learn from your workout routine and begin to find ways to periodise your social life like you do your training. For example, you could give yourself five days off and two nights on, or have a drink Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday to space your drinking days out. Plan your week and figure out when you will go out and when you will recover, just like you might do when eating out.
It's well researched that alcohol affects everything from sleep quality, to protein synthesis, so try and avoid drinking after training. However, we know that life happens, and social situations arise, so to help your body handle that ‘post-gym pint’, follow the three Rs:
- Rehydrate with water
- Refuel with 1g per kg of bodyweight in carbohydrates
- Repair with around 25g of protein, depending on your bodyweight and goals
Written by Abby Attenborough (ANutr)