Are your good intentions to hit the gym early or have a proper breakfast frequently derailed by one too many the night before? If so, there’s never been a better time to challenge yourself to cut down on your drinking. This month, Macmillan Cancer Support are challenging people to Go Sober for October, asking people to bin the booze from the whole month and raise sponsorship to help ensure that no one faces cancer alone.
We spoke to Matt Kendrick, founder of MK HealthHub who has twenty years’ experience as a fitness instructor and health advisor on how we can cut down and the benefits we could reap…
Grazia Daily: We love a drink (who doesn’t?!) but what’s the safe amount to drink per week?
Matt Kendrick: “The Department of Health recommends that women should drink no more than 2 – 3 units of alcohol in any one day, and have at least two alcohol-free days each week.”
GD: Is it more damaging to have, say, one glass of wine most nights or one big blowout on the weekend?
MK: “From a fitness perspective, one glass of wine most nights is better than a big binge at the weekend. Binging will write off the following day, if not the one after that as well, and make you much less likely to stick to your exercise regime.”
GD: Why is it so easy to slip over this quota?
MK: “In my experience helping clients to develop food plans, people always remember what they drank in the evening when they were out socialising with friends, but often forget the glass of wine they had at a business do in the day... Even if you’re working, that glass of alcohol still counts!”
GD: Even if we’re not drinking to excess, what are the next-day effects of a glass or two?
MK: “It really varies from person to person. One glass of wine could have no effect whatsoever on one person, but the next might experience a lack of energy and concentration, or even fluctuating blood sugar levels”.
GD: We know alcohol is really bad for our livers but how else does it affect our bodies and fitness?
MK: “As well as causing weight gain, alcohol can increase cortisol levels – a stress hormone that destroys muscle. Alcohol also acts as diuretic, leading to more frequent trips to the loo. The resulting dehydration can cause painful muscle cramping, leading to impaired performance when you're working out.”
GD: What’s the cleanest alcohol?
MK: “Obviously nothing compares to abstinence, but the distillation process of vodka means that it produces hardly any congeners – impurities that are normally produced during fermentation.”
GD: What mixers should we avoid in particular?
MK: “Most fizzy drinks and fruit juices contain sugar and artificial ingredients, so I’d probably opt for a soda water!"
GD: How can we expect to feel in the short-term when we cut down on our drinking?
MK: “If you give up alcohol for just one month and Go Sober for October for Macmillan Cancer Support, you can expect to start seeing improved hydration to the body, a clearer complexion and an increase in energy levels - at the very least. You'll also find yourself making better food choices.”
GD: And in the long term?
MK: “In the long term, giving up alcohol leads to an overall improvement in health and wellbeing, increased fitness levels and even weight loss.”
MK HealthHub founder Matt Kendrick is supporting Macmillan Cancer Support’s Go Sober for October. The fundraising challenge asks people to bin the booze from 1st – 31st October 2015 to help ensure that no one faces cancer alone. Head to www.gosober.org.uk to sign up and be a Sober Hero for Macmillan.