By James Fell AskMen
In short, when it comes to the question of whether alcohol can be good for your heart, the answer is: We’re 100% certain that we’re just not sure.
I drink. Sometimes too much. I’ve bailed out on more than one workout due to a hangover.
OK, now that that’s out of the way…
The Alleged Benefits Of Alcohol Consumption
Moderate alcohol intake might be good for you, but studies extolling its virtues for preventing heart disease do not qualify as concrete proof. The studies are not controlled and randomized, but instead rely on self-reporting of alcohol intake. What’s more, they often lump ex-drinkers (who are often people who have had a drinking problem in the past and can have a host of other bad habits) and lifetime non-drinkers into the same “abstainer” category.
According to a 2005 study in Sports Medicine, “Available evidence suggests… moderate alcohol consumption may have favorable effects on blood coagulation and fibrinolysis [whatever that is -- I think it’s good]; however, compelling experimental evidence is lacking to endorse this.
In short, when it comes to the question of whether alcohol can be good for your heart, the answer is: We’re 100% certain that we’re just not sure. But we know for sure that what is good for your heart is exercise. Speaking of which…
The Effect Of Alcohol On Exercise
When it comes to exercise, booze is not your friend. Have you ever tried exercising with a hangover? It’s no fun.
But it’s worse than that. According to the same 2005 study mentioned above, alcohol decreases athletic performance because it “adversely affects energy supply and impairs the metabolic processes during exercise.” Chronic use also causes muscle fiber wasting, and that’s bad, too.
Alcohol calories ***** that of sugar-sweetened beverages, which make up approximately 6% of Americans’ daily energy intake. A 2012 studyof 11,000 U.S. adults by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that alcohol calories account for roughly 5% of total energy intake. Liquid calories are not satiating, and high ingestion is a major cause of weight gain.
Temporary Euphoria, Bad Calories
The mood-boosting effects of alcohol are significant, but the crash is hard, too. A bad hangover is about as euphoric as a barf-coated shovel to the head.
It gets worse. According to a 2001 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “increasing alcohol consumption was associated with a higher total energy intake.” That means more calories, but not just any calories. These are bad calories -- more animal products and saturated fat, and fewer vegetables.
“After a few beer, the ability to make wise food decisions goes down,” Richard Mattes, a professor of nutrition science at Purdue University told me. A number of other studies support the idea that alcohol has an appetite-stimulating effect, and can therefore lead to weight gain.
So if you drink, you take in a bunch of alcohol calories and you’ve also got that decreased-inhibitions thing going on. That same alcohol-infused behavior that causes you to French your coworker at the office Christmas party is also what makes you think deep-fried cheese sticks will really hit the spot.
OK, I know you’re going to have a difficult time accepting this, but I interviewed Jenni “JWoww” Farley of Jersey Shore fame (or is that infamy?) on the subject of how drinking can lead to grease inhalation.
“For Season 1 of Jersey Shore, all the partying led to lots of late-night snacking,” she told me. “Because of the alcohol, I’d be eating pizza, Philly cheesesteaks and cheese balls. Oh, god, I love cheese balls.” Tell me about it. “There were also days of being too hungover to go to the gym. After the first two seasons, I hit a wall. I couldn’t fit into my pants any more, and I decided to clean up my diet a little and become more health-conscious.”
Cheesy-cheese-ball cliché alert! If JWoww can realize the booze is making her eat bad things and resolve to change, so can you. If you like the stuff, keep it moderate.
Tips For Taking It Easy On The Ethanol
-Do you really need to go to that party/bar/get-together? Only go to parties you actually want to attend.
-How about volunteering to be the designated driver now and again? You still get to go the party and have fun, but you know ahead of time that indulging isn't an option.
-Club soda is your friend; it looks just like a gin and tonic. No one will know.
-Make your drink last. Don’t chug.
-Delay drinking. Don’t reach for alcohol early in the evening; wait until the party or event is in full swing.
-Drink water in between alcoholic drinks. You’ll imbibe less and be less dehydrated, which means a reduced hangover.
-If you’re entertaining, ask people to take leftover booze home with them or find alternatives to give it away.