Health and fitness: Juggling alcohol with your gym workout



Can you really declare yourself one of the Wharf's fitness fanatics while Champagne dinner dates and wine nights fill the pages of your weekly diary?

Personal trainer Roger Snipes, who puts gym-goers through their paces at Reebok Sports Club, says it's all about balance.

The 35-year-old is no stranger to banishing booze from his diet thanks to schedules littered with body building and, more recently, physique competitions. And his recent nutrition studies have given him an extra edge when helping clients with their healthy lifestyles.

Here we ask him how to enjoy a guilt-free alcoholic drink.

Wharfers are continually tempted by alcohol. What are the consequences of indulging?

For many people, it's a case of knowing how to control the amount of alcohol they are having.

In a social situation, people get comfortable and while they are eating they tend to drink more.

The aftermath of that is when they come to train, the alcohol hasn't quite cleared the system yet.

What's the impact on the body?

Muscles are 75% water and you want to make sure they are hydrated at all times.

That helps to make sure oxygen is transferred around the body to cope with the performance rate when you're training.

But alcohol is a diuretic, it dehydrates the body, and when a person drinks, they find themselves going to the toilet a lot, which can lead to dehydration. That impacts your training.

Also, your liver is trying to metabolise the alcohol. While it's doing that, it spends less time metabolising glucose, so your body doesn't provide as much energy as usual for training.


■ How can we combine socialising with an intense and effective fitness regime?

I would suggest balance. If you are going to train in the morning, then save drinking until late afternoon.

The recommended daily intake for women is two to three units and for a man, it's three to four, but you don't always have to drink that much.

You can make it a bit less, and, if you're going to have alcohol, it might help to have a glass of water as well.

The best thing to do is keep the units small and try to keep away from cocktails as they are very sugary - have spirits maybe with water rather than mixers like Coke or lemonade.

■ Suppose it's been a heavy night on the tiles. Should I try to drag myself to the gym for a workout?

The first thing you need to do in the morning is drink a few glasses of water and you will probably want to have a stimulant, like a black coffee.

It depends on how much you have drunk but you're not going to be able to train as effectively, so probably halve the weights and increase the reps.

Just keep it steady - I don't suggest anything fast. You're going to be dehydrated, so try to balance it out with lots of water and use training as recovery.

After training, have a protein shake to help get your muscles recovering and lots of fruits and vegetables.

■ If I'm taking on an intense fitness challenge like a marathon, is booze out of the question?

When I'm preparing for a body-building competition I have to go through a complete cleanse and I have to eat clean.

That's all it is. At other times, I enjoy life. There are those events for which it is extremely important your body is cleansed of things like alcohol. You have to be clean so you can do more than half a job.

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