There are few cardinal rules when it comes to my coaching:

  1. You should NEVER be hungry.
  2. Your diet is what you eat day in and day out, and it does not have a deadline.
  3. Practice balance. 

Today I want to talk about the third rule: Practice balance. When I refer to balance, I'm talking about your nutrition (and really anything in life) that you could potentially get burnt out on. When it comes to our diet, we want to eat well as much of the time as possible, but sometimes things come up that try to derail our nutrition. 

This could be cravings from day to day. For the most part you want to steer clear and re-learn ways of dealing with your cravings, especially sugar cravings, as you clean up your diet. It could also be going to a new restaurant and wanting to try a delicious sounding plate, but unable to do so because it contains something you've vowed not to eat anymore. And this is where balance comes into play. 

I recommend an 80/20 rule. 80% of the time, you should be good - eat clean, eat what you've dedicated yourself to eating, get in the veggies, your supplements, your water, etc. The remaining 20% of the time (or less if you have superb will power), BE BAD. Indulge and treat yourself to things you've always loved to eat (ahem - chocolate), try something new at a restaurant even though it has something noncompliant, order dessert. Your nutrition is hugely important to your health, but so is your happiness. Remember to practice balance and be bad every once in a while without guilt. 

This brings us to today's topic - alcohol. I'm going on a bachelorette party this weekend, so festivities are on my mind and I know this is something that comes up often as indulgences

"Can I still drink a beer?!"

Here are a few important facts about alcohol to keep in mind, as well as the best and worst picks for your adult beverages when keeping your diet in mind. 

  • Alcohol has almost twice as many calories per gram than carbs and proteins. For example, a 5 oz. glass of wine contains 110 calories, 91 of which come from the alcohol itself. 
  • Alcohol can damage the stomach, kidneys and liver due to often being a yeast by-product, which can cause inflammation of the gut lining and lead to serious kidney and liver diseases. 
  • Alcohol provide empty calories - a.k.a. lots of calories but very little nutritional value.
  • Alcohol inhibits fat loss and can cause fat gain. When you drink alcohol, your body uses it as fuel first (when it should be using fat as fuel) and does so until it's out of your system. 
  • Moderate alcohol consumption in healthy adults has shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes
  • Having a glass of wine with your meal can help you live longer - in fact it reduces the risk of death 18 percent. 
  • Red wine contains antioxidants, resveratrol, and polyphenols that are good for heart health. 

Alcohols From Best to Worst

1. Tequila - This should be distilled 100% agave tequila, otherwise tequila often contains a huge amount of refined sugars. Many tequilas made in the U.S contain other alcohols besides tequila (up to 49%) while still being labeled as tequila. The agave plant is not a grain, and contains simple sugars like fruits. 

2. Red Wine - If you're not a liquor person, red wine is the best choice for you. Because of it's heart health benefits, it's one of the best alcohol options when drunk in moderation. Red wine trumps white wine, because white wine removes the skin of the grape (and consequently the resveratrol) and contains more sugar, hence the sweeter taste. 

3. Beer - Beer is made from wheat, barley, and hops. If you're among the paleo community, it should be a dead giveaway that this isn't the best option for you. Beer also contains a ton of carbs, and while there are low carb options, are you really going for low-carbs foods or whole foods? Think about it.

4. Mixed drinks - Many spirits are okay on the rocks, but that's not how they're typically served. If you mix anything with a sugary soda, mixer, or fruit juice, you'll be getting a large amount of carbs and sugars in your drink, leading to huge calorie intake in the form of a drink with no other nutrients. 

Obviously this list isn't exhaustive, but it provides your best and worst options. That being said, remember that balance is key to the happiness and sustainability of any diet. Choose wisely, indulge every now and then, and create the nutrition plan that suits you best.