Summer is a time for barbecues, pool parties, weddings, camping and celebrating time off work. It’s also a time when those tempting, mouth-watering cocktails start calling your name. We’re not here to tell you to ignore that sweet call entirely – who doesn’t want to cool down with a mojito on vacation? But since we’re here to help you reach your maximum fitness potential, we’re going to share a few facts and alternatives.
Alcohol impacts physical activity significantly – that isn’t breaking news. But if you need a reason to swap the booze for a healthier slurp this summer, we’ve got a few for you.
Most hangover symptoms are a direct result of dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic – so even if those cocktails look (and taste) gorgeously fruity and juicy, the spirits or wine mixed into them drain moisture from your body. It also raises your heart rate and body temperature, making you sweat more during exercise and dehydrating you further.
Your summer cocktails can lead to cramps, thanks to lactic acid build-up from alcohol. If you’re working out the day after boozy drinks in the garden, you’re likely to face more discomfort. What’s more, it’s harder to build and repair muscles after drinking, due to a reduction in growth hormones.
It’s true – the most tempting cocktails are often the sugariest. Sipping high glycaemic drinks quickly turns into glucose once you’ve digested them. This leads to inflammation, water retention, bloating and tiredness – definitely not a recipe for a successful workout.
Alcohol can reduce athletic performance by 11.4%, studies have shown. On top of that, drinking alcohol is more likely to lead to sports-related injuries – with an injury incidence of 54.8% in drinkers compared with 23.5% in non-drinkers.
Your digestive system gets sluggish when faced with all those cocktails, lowering the rate at which your body absorbs essential nutrients and slowing down metabolism. To avoid stressing your stomach with alcohol, try mocktails instead. In case you don’t know, Mocktails are cocktails without liquor; they’re a great way to create a flavourful beverage without any alcohol. Otherwise, try eating nutrient-dense food before drinking alcohol.
There are plenty of ways you can still unwind with a summer cocktail. The first, and maybe simplest is to drink more water. Especially in between alcoholic drinks. It’ll help combat dreaded dehydration and regulate your body temperature better.
Secondly, as mentioned above, swapping to mocktails is a great way to enjoy the flavour without lowering your functioning. From watermelon ‘nojitos’ to faux fizzy punches, there’s no end to the refreshing non-alcoholic recipes out there.
Thirdly, if you don’t want to skip the alcohol, there are cocktails lower in sugar and calories you can try. Avoid juices and syrups, especially if you’re planning a workout in the days after drinking. Try sugar-free mixers like seltzers or sparkling water, swap the sugar cube in your Old Fashioned for maple syrup, and opt for naturally low-sugar cocktails such as Bloody Marys.
And finally, don’t overthink it. It’s ok to relax and enjoy your summer cocktails. Everything in moderation is always the most successful route – and with education around alcohol and fitness, you can de-stress with a refreshing cocktail on vacation without overdoing it.