1. Getting enough sleep
2. Knowing which alcohol packs the most and least calories
Let’s tackle the alcohol first! If you’re going to order a drink with dinner, which does less damage: wine, beer, or a cocktail?
Any alcohol is empty calories, wine or beer beats a cocktail though because you typically get fewer calories from them.
Cocktails. Most restaurant chains’ mojitos and margaritas deliver around 300 calories due to the amount of sugar but a classic margarita—tequila, lime, triple sec—in a small glass cuts most of the sugar and hovers around 200 calories.
Frozen blended drinks like piña coladas typically range from 500 to 900 calories. That’s what alcohol, sugar, and ice cream or coconut cream will do often including more than a day’s worth saturated fat and an estimated 13 teaspoons of added sugar !
There are a few cocktails—a classic martini or Manhattan, for example—aren’t likely to do more damage than a 6 oz. glass of wine.
Wine or beer. Expect around 150 calories in a 6 oz. glass of red or white wine. But a 9 oz. pour has 220 calories. Sangria can hit 200 to 300 calories, thanks to the fruit, juice, liquor, and sugar.
Beer also starts at 150 calories for a 12 oz. can or bottle (100 calories for a light beer). But the calories climb to 200 to 250 in a 16-to-20 oz. draft pour.
A great tip is to drink one glass of water for EVERY alcoholic drink.
We spoke last week about ways to remove toxins from the body, well one way to avoid consuming these is to limit high congener concentration drinks (the darker the colour, the more fermentation by-products or “toxins” there are for your body to deal with (ie. red wine, whisky, bourbon, scotch, etc are all going to contribute to a stronger hangover).
The morning after indulging in a little too much alcohol, remember natural electrolytes found in plain coconut water are a great pick me up. It is also a great idea to add omega-3 essential fatty acids and B complexes to your breakfast.
Do NOT reach for acetaminophen – studies show following an onslaught of alcohol with acetaminophen is the worst thing to do by adding additional toxic stress. If you absolutely need over the counter support, reach for ibuprofen which won’t add that additional burden to your liver.
Sleep tips – ways to fall & stay asleep
We all need to find ways to sleep longer. Sleeplessness in general is a new epidemic. In fact, it’s a silent epidemic that can contribute to a whole host of different health conditions like heart disease, obesity even diabetes because if you have too much sleeplessness, you end up with problems regulating blood sugar.
We need to adopt ways to stay in the happy zone – the stage 3 and 4 sleep phase for the longest amount of time. That’s the phase just before the dream phase. So getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep is great, however, it’s not so much about the number of hours we clock on the pillow but rather staying in that happy zone longer is the goal as that’s when your body is repairing and healing. This happy zone is when your immune system is building back up and rejuvenating, generating more healthy cells. It usually takes about 90 minutes to accomplish going through a sleep cycle and we need 5 of these (sleep cycles) each night.
Getting longer sleep cycles starts with what we need to do more of which is firstly keeping it cool at night. In the winter for example, depending on the temperature outside, it’s best to keep our house between 65 and 68°C.
We all know how good exercise is for us especially strength training, however, don’t do this an hour or less before going to bed. Even if you haven’t gotten your exercise in that day/night, for better sleep, hold off exercise (especially strenuous exercise) until the next morning as it creates thermal disregulation. The same reason we should keep the heat in our house low, if we are too warm at night, we’re not going to get into that stage 3 and 4 happy sleep zone where we get our deep sleep.
Sleep hygiene is so important. Use black out curtains if possible, however, if you can’t keep your room dark at night, where those eye covers (like the ones you wear at the spa or on an airplane) that you slip over your eyes work great as they work great as well. This is so important because otherwise light goes through your eyes and into your brain which triggers serotonin, the day hormone. Conversely, we need to trigger melatonin because this is what keeps you deeply asleep in that happy zone and I will talk more about melatonin shortly.
To promote deeper sleep, you’ll want to reduce your intake of caffeine and alcohol as they’re stimulants as are hot peppers as these may increase regurgitation or acid reflux. All of these things can keep you awake instead of in that happy, immune boosting stage. Also, make sure you don’t eat at least an hour before bed. Two hours before going to bed you can have some carbs in your meal or in a snack like half a banana and 2 tbsp of walnuts as it (the banana) will induce tryptophan which is an amino acid which produces melatonin.
Now speaking of melatonin this is a supplement which you can take about an hour before your intended sleep. Note, melatonin is not a jet leg remedy that you take just before going on the plane for example or when you get to your destination, it works best when taken an hour before your sleep in your time zone. It comes in liquid form which is absorbed into the body as well as slow releasing capsules.
DHA is an omega-3, type of fish oil that has shown to improve sleep. Theanine is an amino acid that helps to not only improve sleep but also can enhance focus, attention and alertness during the day. Studies are showing the positive results it’s having on those with ADHD. It’s not a stimulant.
Hops, not the kind that’s in beer, (because as we’ve discussed alcohol acts as a stimulant) but just the hops (which can be found in a health food store), can help induce sleep as can chamomile tea.
When it comes to diet, nuts, pumpkin seeds, pistachios and micro nutrients found in greens particularly the B vitamins help to increase melatonin at night which keeps us sleeping. Lastly, tart cherry is great as it increases melatonin which also happens to be full of electrolytes, which is great for muscle recovery and helping to decrease soreness in muscles.
So, if you want your healthiest holidays yet, get your zzz’s and limit your alcohol intake!