November is the month when thoughts of summer and the silly season collide, causing no end of concern for my fitness clients who want to look great on the beach, while squeezing in a party or two along the way.
It may seem like a contradiction in terms, but "what's the healthiest alcoholic drink I can order?" is something I am asked with increasing regularity.
My response is that if you must have a night on the tiles, it's best to be educated about what you're putting into your body.
So here are my tips for drinking a little bit smarter this coming silly season:
Living it up
Pre-mixed drinks pack a serious calorie punch. They are loaded with sugar, and if you're throwing a few back during a day at the races, do note that Wild Turkey & Cola has about 1155 KJ per bottle, while a Lemon Ruski and Vodka Cruiser will contain 924 and 882 KJ, respectively. Energy drinks and vodka pack a similar punch, with a vodka Red Bull containing about 743 KJ.
How to work it off: ready yourself for a serious alcohol and sugar hangover. Once you've recovered, pick a killer workout like CrossFit Murph. Time yourself performing a 1.5km run, 100 Pull-ups, 200 Push-ups, 300 Bodyweight Squats and another 1.5km run. If you can finish that workout without a Ruski-revisit, then you've done a great job and worked off some serious calories.
Beer & wine
Beer and wine account for approximately 79 per cent of all alcohol sold in Australia, so let's size 'em up, glass by glass. A night of six stubbies equals 3528 KJ, while six glasses of white wine adds up to 4200 KJ, six glasses of red 3276 KJ, and six glasses of champagne 2973 KJ.
How to work it off: Rest, recover, eat a healthy breakfast with plenty of water, then when you're 100 per cent recovered, try 4 rounds of this circuit: 200 jump ropes, 20 push ups, 20 squats, 20 sit ups, 20 plyometric lunges, 10 burpees, and a 300 metre sprint.
Low KJ options
The clear spirits such as gin and vodka are the lesser of alcohol's calorific evils. However, your mixer of choice is what determines how naughty your night out is to be. Gin and tonic is a seemingly 'healthy' choice, right? Wrong. A bottle of tonic water still has 537 KJ in it. Your best bet? Vodka soda contains approximately 293 KJ. The sugar content is low, and though it has little taste, it's the lowest calorie way to celebrate during silly season.
How to work it off: Even if you choose the lowest-calorie choice, remember it still has to come off via exercise. For an average person, just one vodka soda at 293 KJ will burn off via 20min of walking, 8min of jogging, 6min of swimming, or 11min of cycling.
Ultimately, we all have different expectations of what a big night out is. But think about this: if you're having a few on Thursday night, then half a dozen beers each on Friday and Saturday night with a few after a Sunday beach session (yes, this is how I used to live), then that's like eating 8 days of food in a 7 day week.
It's not just the booze. After big nights out, a hangover is usually met with a big breakfast, lack of energy, and zero exercise. And let's not forget – alcohol is a drug. It can be a dangerous drug. And the effect on one's mind and liver from over-consumption can be seriously damaging.
So if you're looking to keep a boozy night in check, try to mix a little soda water into your mixer or wine, stay away from rounds where you're drinking at everybody else's pace, eat a healthy dinner before you go out to stay away from unhealthy snacks, and drink a glass of water in between drinks.
With a little information, thought, and planning before a night out, hopefully we can all make silly season a bit healthier and a lot more fun.
What do you do to keep your nights out a little less naughty? And what workout do you employ to negate the calories?
* Data provided by CalorieKing.com