25 | Male |
Science graduate and physiotherapy student. I exercise without a gym, and I eat a lot of fatty foods.
Fat tastes good, fat keeps me feeling full and fat gives me the energy for my fit and healthy life!
The least worse way to get drunk
This post started out as a short list of things that you should do if you’re going to drink alcohol, to do the least amount of harm to yourself. However, as I researched this topic further (by reading actual research, not by drinking. I feel I should also say that I’m a teetotaler), I realized that this is a lot more complicated than it seems and there is in fact no ‘good’ way to drink. So I’m going to tell you about the least bad way.
Alcohol and the hangover
People generally report feeling stimulated, euphoric and energised as they’re getting drunker, but then feel sedated, slow and sluggish when they start to sober up . In general it is the stimulant effects that people crave , and but this requires ever increasing levels of alcohol to keep the blood alcohol on the rise and indeed people who experience greater stimulant effects from alcohol generally tend to be heavier drinkers .
Aside from the reduced motor and cognitive abilities caused by alcohol consumption, the day after drinking when blood alcohol returns to zero often produces the symptoms of a hangover. Hangovers usually involve the symptoms of nausea, drowsiness, thirst, tension headache and reduced cognitive ability . Most of these symptoms are most likely caused by an inflammatory reaction or immune system disturbance in response to alcohol, but may also be due to a build-up of the alcohol breakdown product acetaldehyde and other toxic components in alcohol .
The non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drug Clotan (tolfenamic acid) has been shown to reduce hangovers when taken before drinking and before going to be after drinking , due to its anti-inflammatory effects. It’s possible, therefore, that fish oils may also have some benefit, but this hasn’t been studied. Some alcohols, like bourbon, scotch, wine and beer, contain toxic components known as congeners, such as methanol . Avoid these alcohols and instead drink low congener alcohols like vodka (vodka has a very low congener content for a very high alcohol content) . There’s not much you can do about the acetaldehyde, especially if you’re one of those people (usually Asian) who produce acetaldehyde faster and break it down slower, so experience alcohol flush reactions .
Some of the symptoms can be explained in other ways. Thirst is likely caused by dehydration, and the drowsiness is partly caused by the effect alcohol (and staying out late to drink said alcohol) has on sleep . Alcohol suppresses melatonin and alters sleep quality . Thus, these symptoms can be minimized by drinking lots of water along with alcoholic beverages, and by not staying up too late on a night when you’ve been drinking (and sleeping in a darkened room).
Alcohol and fat gain
Alcohol has 7kcal of energy per gram, which puts it partway between fat (9kcal/g) and carbohydrate (4kcal/g) in terms of energy density. In Australia and New Zealand, a standard drink contains 10g of alcohol (same as one ‘unit’ of alcohol in the UK, but the US standard drink contains 40% more). Thus, a standard drink contains 70kcal of energy from alcohol alone, and a sugary alcohol beverage like a fruit cider or an Alcopop may contain even more from sugar. For a 55kg woman to drink enough to be legally to drunk to drive in Australia, and stay that way for 3 hours, a quick calculation with the Widmark equation reveals she’d need to drink 56g of alcohol (5.5 standard drinks in Australia) over those 3 hours, which would be a minimum of 390kcal if she was drinking shots of pure vodka or 900kcal if she’s consuming sugary alcoholic sodas. Considering a sedentary 55kg woman would only need about 1300kcal per day, that’s a lot of empty calories.
The calories consumed in the form of alcohol behave like those consumed from sugary drinks [12, 13], in that even though you’ve just consumed a lot of energy you don’t eat less at later meals . There is even some evidence that alcohol, compared to sugary liquids like fruit juice, actually stimulate appetite rather than reduce it , and certainly you’re not going to have your usual dietary control when you’re inebriated. So, unless our hypothetical woman is basically dancing non-stop for those 3 hours she’s out, she’s like to have consumed far more energy that day than she’s burned, and will thus gain weight (primarily in the abdominal region, for some reason).
Obviously the easiest, and by far the most effective, way to avoid this fat gain is to just drink fewer drinks, or drink less often. If you don’t try to get as drunk, or stay that way for as long, or do it as often, you’ll dramatically reduce the number of empty calories you’re consuming.
The only alternative is to eat fewer calories, from more nutrient rich foods, earlier in the day, before alcohol starts to affect your control. After you drink, your body switches to burn alcohol for energy instead of fat [16, 17]. This suggests that on a day you are consuming that you alcohol you should maintain a low fat diet. Further reinforcing this, alcohol consumption inhibits gluconeogenesis , and this may reduce blood sugar levels, which is not good for people following a low carbohydrate diet. Further, consuming alcohol with a lot of quickly digested carbohydrates can produce the “sugar low” or reactive hypoglycemia [19, 20]. Thus, alcohol should be consumed after an energy-reduced low-fat carbohydrate rich diet, but consisting of slow-digesting low GI carbohydrate rather than sugar or refined carbs.
So, I hope you enjoyed reading about how science can make you more functional alcoholic, and kill yourself more slowly with alcohol. I’ll stick to the water myself. Bottoms up!
Reference below (click read more)
Progress photos: Lessons from bodybuilding posing
The progress photo is one of the most relevant outcome measures for people whose aims consist largely (or entirely) of looking good naked. But to get as much detail from progress photos as you can, there are a few points to know. Bodybuilders basically make their living off looking good in minimal clothing, so there’s a few things I’ve learned from them.
Bodybuilding competitions generally require relatively skimpy posing trunks for the men and bikinis for the women, with precisely 1/3 of the buttocks covered. This is necessary to expose as much musculature as possible, without exposing too much to be unsuitable for a public show.
Therefore, your progress photos should not be taken with you wearing a baggy t-shirt and jeans, because you’ll never be able to see minute differences. Less clothing is always better, but if you don’t need that much detail you may find a simple crop top (to expose the abs) to be sufficient. However, progress photos don’t have to be viewed by judges like bodybuilders do, so you may find taking your progress photos totally naked to be the best option (it does give you the most information about your glutes, lower abs and breasts).
I should also point out that in many female competitions, it’s standard to wear 4-5 inch high heels. But seeing as you’re competing against your past self rather than other girls, it’s up to you what you wear on your feet (if anything).
Stage lighting is generally pretty bright, so that no area of the body is hidden in darkness. Cameras, especially phone cameras, require fairly bright lighting to take detailed photos, so you will need to take your progress photos in a brightly-lit room. Natural lighting (sunlight) is considered ideal but is also hard to control.
However, shadows can also add definition, something bodybuilders can’t rely on. Lighting coming from above, slightly in front and slightly to one side adds shadows to the body that help show muscles. For this reason, it’s also wise to avoid a flash when taking progress photos. But whatever you do, keep it consistent between photos, because lighting does make a huge difference.
Bodybuilders also prepare for a competition by getting a tan (natural or fake), which helps preserve definition in the bright stage lighting. But seeing as you have control of lighting and, like I said above, are only competing against your past self, you can be as pale or tanned as you like for your progress photos. Just keep in mind that a tan will slightly change your definition, if you’re comparing progress photos before and after that beach trip you went on. (The same thing applies if you decide to oil yourself up for your progress photos!).
In competitions it’s mandatory to pose in several ways, to allow the judges to see you from the front, back and side. Poses vary between competitions.
For men, there are 7-8 compulsory poses that show off key muscles like biceps, triceps, lats, chest, thighs and abs. Similar poses are used in women’s physique and figure except for some reason they keep their hands open. Women’s bikini competitions allow even more variation in poses, such as allowing weight to be mostly one one hip or the torso to be turned during a pose. Whether a certain muscle is flexed during a pose or not depends on the competition and the look that is desired.
In a progress photo, adopting just a couple of these poses could be very useful to get a good view of certain muscle groups of interest. If the main muscles you’re interested in are glutes and abs, for instance, then a relaxed front view, an abs-tensed front view and some side or rear view pose may be the most useful to you. If you’re more interested in back, chest, biceps and shoulders, a double biceps front and double biceps back may be the most suitable for you. Just try to keep it consistent.
Good progress photos are all about being able to see the changes you’re looking for. You need the right clothes, lighting and poses to see those changes, and you need to do the exact same thing next time you take your photo so that you can be sure the difference is due to your hard work in the gym and dedication in the kitchen.