LET’S be honest – it can be hard to keep track of how much we’re drinking… especially during the festive season.
A glass of wine after work with colleagues, a couple of beers watching the football with mates, a few more bevvys in the pub over the weekend – and the next thing you know, you’ve used up all your recommended units for the week in just three days.
In other words, it’s far easier than you think to fall into the habit of drinking more than you should.
Official guidelines recommend that both men and women should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week – that’s the equivalent of six pints or 10 small glasses of wine.
Drinking too much of your favourite tipple comes with a range of both short- and long-term risks.
People who binge-drink are more likely to engage in risky behaviour – and that’s how accidents happen.
With that in mind, you might be tempted to do Dry January – where participants pledge to give up boozing for a month.
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But ditching drink for four weeks comes with a range of health benefits that you will see almost immediately, according to personal trainer and fitness coach Georgie Okell.
1. You’ll lose weight
You may pretend that liquid calories don’t count, but they do – and alcohol has plenty of them.
“Alcohol is just full of empty calories and sugar,” said Georgie.
“Cutting out alcohol, on a basic level, is just the easiest way to start cutting the calories you don’t need.”
So if you regularly hit the gym and you ditch the booze, you’re going to see great results.
Georgie said: “If you are cutting out alcohol and starting to increase your workouts to three of four times a week then you will notice a difference after a week.
“As long as you are maintaining a healthy diet otherwise.
“Certainly in a month of cutting out alcohol and increasing your work outs you will see a huge difference to your body shape, your tone and your weight.”
2. You’ll feel happier
Over all, you will have more energy and you will feel better.
People tend to beat themselves up if they have a boozy night and “sweat it out” through exercise the next day.
But that doesn’t work and can actually make you feel worse.
“Alcohol is a depressant, so you are kind of counteracting all those benefits you are getting from exercise if you do go to the gym,” Georgie said.
“I don’t think it is particularly healthy to have the idea of ‘oh if I’m really hungover I will sweat it out in the morning’.
“If you are doing it [quitting booze] for over a month, then I think your change in mentality is huge.
“Being able to go out with your friends and socialise without drink is really important.”
3. You’ll sleep soundly
Booze disrupts your sleep cycle.
When you drink you don’t get as much restful REM (rapid eye movement) sleep as you need, which makes you feel tired in the morning no matter how many hours of shut eye you get.
Georgie said: “The sleep you get when you are drinking is not a proper sleep, it’s more like you pass out.
“But when you get a deep sleep you wake up feeling so much more refreshed.”
So ditch the tipple and you will sleep like a log.
4. You’ll have better skin
You’ve heard it all before, too much processed sugar can make you break out.
Unfortunately alcohol has a lot of sugar.
On top of that, it dehydrates you, which can leave your skin looking dry and dull.
But a month without alcohol and you’ll notice quite a difference.
“Your skin will clear up, you’ll lose the bags under your eyes because you are getting better, proper sleep,” Georgie said.
“If you are working out more instead of drinking you’ll notice more colour in your cheeks.
“If you tend to get spots it can clear up, especially if you are drinking more water instead of alcohol.”
5. You’ll eat less junk food
You know the feeling.
You’re hungover and the only cure is a bacon sandwich.
Or you’re on the way home from the pub and you fancy a greasy kebab.
“When you are hungover or when you are drinking, you just want to eat rubbish,” said Georgie.
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“Your body craves fat, it craves salt, it craves sugar – so in terms of eating healthier, there is a direct knock-on effect.
“If you are not drinking, you are more likely to want healthy food.”
To find out more about Dry January and how you can give up booze, visit the website here.