Nutritional supplements

How to Select the Best Supplements for Your Needs?

Nutritional supplements

In today’s fast-paced world, where convenience often compromises nutritional quality and consistency, many of us turn to dietary supplements to fill in the gaps. Whether it’s due to busy schedules, dietary restrictions, or simply wanting to ensure optimal health, there’s no doubt that nutritional supplements have become increasingly popular. But with shelves overflowing with options, how do you choose the best supplement for your individual needs? In this guide, we’ll navigate the maze of supplements, discussing common choices, their reliability, and offering advice on how to prioritize dietary choices.

Understanding Nutritional Supplements:

Nutritional supplements come in various forms, including vitamins, minerals, herbal extracts, and specialty supplements targeting specific health concerns. While they can be beneficial for some, it’s essential to recognize that they are meant to complement, not replace, a balanced diet. Before incorporating any supplement into your routine, it’s wise to consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications.

Common Nutritional Supplements:

  1. Multivitamins

    These are perhaps the most widely used supplements, offering a combination of essential vitamins and minerals. While they can be a convenient way to ensure you’re meeting your daily requirements, it’s crucial to choose a high-quality multivitamin with optimal levels of nutrients and minimal fillers or additives.

  2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

    Omega-3s, found in fish oil supplements, are renowned for their heart-healthy benefits and anti-inflammatory properties. Look for supplements that contain both EPA and DHA, the two primary types of omega-3 fatty acids, and consider factors like purity, freshness, and sustainability when selecting a product.

  3. Protein Powders

    Popular among fitness enthusiasts, protein powders are a convenient way to boost protein intake, support muscle recovery, and aid in weight management. Whey, casein, and plant-based options like pea or soy protein are available, each with its unique benefits and considerations.

  4. Vitamin D

    Many people have inadequate levels of vitamin D, especially those who live in regions with limited sunlight or spend most of their time indoors. Vitamin D supplements can help support bone health, immune function, and mood regulation. Look for vitamin D3, the most bioavailable form, and consider getting your levels tested to determine the appropriate dosage.

  5. Probiotics

    Probiotic supplements contain beneficial bacteria that support gut health and digestion. They may also have implications for immune function, skin health, and mood. When choosing a probiotic, opt for a product with multiple strains and a high CFU (colony-forming units) count to ensure potency.

Assessing Reliability of Nutrition Supplements:

SupplementsWhile the supplement industry is regulated to some extent, it’s essential to approach product claims with a critical eye. Not all supplements are created equal, and some may contain contaminants, inaccurate labeling, or ineffective ingredients. To ensure reliability:

  • Research Brands: Look for reputable brands with a history of quality and transparency. Check for third-party certifications like NSF International or USP, which indicate that the product has undergone testing for purity and potency.
  • Read Reviews: User reviews can offer valuable insights into a product’s effectiveness and any potential side effects. However, be wary of biased or exaggerated testimonials and prioritize reviews from reputable sources.
  • Check Ingredients: Take the time to scrutinize the ingredient list and avoid supplements with unnecessary fillers, artificial colors, or preservatives. Look for products with minimal additives and focus on high-quality, bioavailable nutrients.

Prioritizing Diet over Supplements:

While supplements can be helpful for filling nutrient gaps, they should not be a substitute for a balanced diet rich in whole foods. Whole foods provide a wide array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that work synergistically to promote health and prevent disease. Here are some tips for prioritizing dietary choices:

  • Eat a Variety of Foods: Aim to include a diverse range of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in your diet to ensure you’re getting a broad spectrum of nutrients.
  • Focus on Nutrient-Dense Foods: Prioritize foods that are rich in essential nutrients, such as leafy greens, berries, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish. These foods provide more than just isolated nutrients; they offer a multitude of health-promoting compounds.

In the quest for optimal health, nutritional supplements can be valuable tools for supporting overall well-being. However, it’s essential to approach supplement selection with caution, ensuring reliability, and prioritizing dietary choices whenever possible. By focusing on a balanced diet rich in whole foods and using supplements strategically to fill specific nutrient gaps, you can create a foundation for long-term health and vitality. Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition, so listen to your body’s needs and consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance.

If you want more guidance on nutrition and what you need to do to break free from Yo-Yo dieting or establish a healthy eating pattern, email Jalpa to set up a consultation!

Jalpa is a registered dietitian and nutritionist with a Master’s degree in Health & Nutrition from Brooklyn College, CUNY in New York. She also holds a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management through the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, CDR.

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Healthy Beverages for a Healthy you!

In today’s fast-paced world, as people become more conscious of their well-being, the demand for healthy beverage options has soared. From traditional favorites to modern concoctions, the healthy beverage landscape has witnessed a shift towards drinks that not only quench thirst but also provide a myriad of health benefits. Let’s explore these trendy and health-packed beverages that are taking the world by storm.

  1. Turmeric Latte:
    • One such rising star in the world of wellness beverages is the Turmeric Latte. Turmeric lattes, also known as “golden milk,” have gained immense popularity for their vibrant color and numerous health benefits. The key ingredient, turmeric, contains curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory compound. This beverage is not only delicious but also known for its potential to boost immunity and promote overall well-being.
  1. Matcha Madness:
    • Matcha, finely ground green tea powder, has become a staple in many health enthusiasts’ routines. Packed with antioxidants, matcha offers a sustained energy boost without the jitters associated with coffee. Its vibrant green color and earthy flavor make it a trendy choice for those seeking a balance of taste and health benefits.
  1. Kombucha Craze:
    • Kombucha is a fermented tea that has taken the beverage world by storm. This effervescent drink is rich in probiotics, promoting gut health and aiding digestion. With various flavors and a slightly tangy taste, kombucha has become a favorite among those looking to incorporate more probiotics into their diet.
  1. Infused Water:
    • While not a new concept, infused water has evolved beyond a simple lemon slice in recent years. From cucumber and mint to berries and herbs, infused water offers a refreshing twist to staying hydrated. These combinations not only make water more palatable but also provide a burst of vitamins and antioxidants.
  1. Adaptogenic Elixirs: Stress-Busting Beverages
    • Adaptogens, herbs known for their stress-relieving properties, have found their way into various beverages. Adaptogenic elixirs combine these herbs with other beneficial ingredients to create calming drinks. Ingredients like ashwagandha and holy basil are believed to help the body adapt to stress and maintain balance.

 

The world of healthy beverages has expanded far beyond traditional options. From the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric lattes to the probiotic richness of kombucha, there’s a wellness drink for every taste bud. As the trend towards healthier living continues, these beverages not only provide hydration but also serve as a delightful way to support overall well-being. So, why not sip your way to wellness and embrace the goodness that these trendy beverages have to offer? Cheers to a healthier, happier you!

 

If you want more guidance on nutrition and what you need to do to manage your health, email Jalpa to set up a consultation!  

 

Jalpa is a registered dietitian and nutritionist with a Master’s degree in Health & Nutrition from Brooklyn College, CUNY in New York. She also holds a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management through the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, CDR.

 

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Processed foods

Processed Foods: The dangers of it and 4 Ways to Make Healthier Choices

In today’s fast-paced world, processed foods have become a convenient option for many. However, their popularity comes at a cost – the potential harm they can cause to our health. Processed foods are often loaded with unhealthy additives, preservatives, and excessive amounts of salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats. Consuming these foods regularly can lead to a wide range of health problems, including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. The good news is that by making a few simple changes to our eating habits, we can make healthier choices and safeguard our well-being. 

Processed foods

What are processed foods? 

There are two different types of processed foods. Mechanically processed foods- such as cooked food – is not the unhealthy foods we are talking about. Examples of mechanically processed foods are ground beef and steamed vegetables. These foods have been “processed’ because they have been cooked. 

Chemically processed foods are the ones we are concerned with. They have chemically been altered by the addition of sweeteners, flavoring agents, and colors. Examples of these are: 

  • Candy
  • Baked goods – like Little Debbies and frozen pizza
  • Packaged breads and cereals
  • Crackers and chips
  • Sausage and chicken nuggets – any meat that has been reconstituted
  • Sodas or other sweet drinks
  • Fast food

Chemically processed foods are severely lacking in nutrients, high in sugar (which makes them addictive), and are very quick calories. Meaning, it doesn’t take much to chew it up and eat it. This allows you to consume a large amount of calories very quickly. 

Junk foods

What are the health risks of processed food? 

Processed food may not seem dangerous, but it kills more people each year than cigarette smoking. A new study states that 71% of Americans are obese- that’s about 100 million people. This same study shows that continually consuming excess calories can shorten your lifespan. When your body has to carry excess weight, it ages much more quickly and is at a higher risk of disease and illness. 

The reason processed foods are so dangerous is because of the amount eaten. They are filled with sodium, sugar and saturated fat. At high amounts, these substances are detrimental. Because processed foods are so easy and quick to eat, regulating portions is very hard. If your diet is made up of over 50% of processed foods, you’re putting your health at major risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. 

Here are 4 ways to lower your processed food intake and make healthier choices: 

It doesn’t have to be as drastic as you think. A small caloric deficit of 50-100 calories a day (not enough to really notice!) can help you maintain your weight and lower your risk of obesity-related disease. 

1. Read Labels and Choose Whole Foods. 

When grocery shopping, taking the time to read labels is crucial. Processed foods often contain a long list of unfamiliar ingredients, many of which can have negative effects on our health. Look for foods with short ingredient lists that contain recognizable, whole-food ingredients. Opt for fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and legumes. These unprocessed foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other essential nutrients, making them excellent choices for a balanced diet.

2. Limit Added Sugars and Artificial Sweeteners.

One of the main culprits in processed foods is added sugars. These sugars not only contribute to weight gain but also increase the risk of developing chronic diseases. They hide in various forms, such as high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, and brown rice syrup. Be vigilant when purchasing packaged foods like cereals, snacks, and beverages, as they often contain significant amounts of added sugars. Instead, satisfy your sweet tooth with natural sugars found in fruits or opt for products with no added sugars. Be cautious with artificial sweeteners, as they may have their own set of health concerns. Moderation is key in everything. 

3. Reduce Sodium Intake.

Processed foods tend to be high in sodium, which can lead to elevated blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease. Canned soups, frozen meals, and snack foods are common culprits. To make healthier choices, opt for low-sodium or no-salt-added versions of these products. Whenever possible, prepare meals at home using fresh ingredients, herbs, and spices for flavor instead of relying on processed seasonings or sauces. By gradually reducing your sodium intake, you can protect your cardiovascular health and improve your overall well-being. Drinking a lot of water throughout the day can also help you offset high sodium levels. A good goal to aim for is half your body weight in ounces. 

4. Prepare Meals at Home and Plan Ahead.

Cooking meals at home gives you control over the ingredients you use and allows you to make healthier choices. When you eat out or order takeout, you have limited control over the quality and nutritional value of the food. By planning your meals ahead of time and preparing them at home, you can ensure that your meals are balanced, nutritious, and free from unhealthy additives. Cooking at home can be a fun and creative experience, allowing you to experiment with different flavors and ingredients.

The dangers of processed foods are real, but by implementing a few key strategies, we can make healthier choices and protect our well-being. Reading labels, choosing whole foods, limiting added sugars, reducing sodium intake, and preparing meals at home are all effective ways to improve our diet. Remember, small changes can significantly impact our health in the long run. By prioritizing whole, unprocessed foods and making conscious decisions about what we consume, we can take control of our health and enjoy a vibrant, energetic life.

 

If you want more guidance on nutrition and what you need to do to manage your health, email Jalpa to set up a consultation!  

 

Jalpa is a registered dietitian and nutritionist with a Master’s degree in Health & Nutrition from Brooklyn College, CUNY in New York. She also holds a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management through the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, CDR.

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Health & Disease Prevention

Role of Diet and Exercise in Disease Prevention

In our fast-paced world, health has become a precious commodity. Chronic diseases increase as a result of various stressors, sedentary lifestyles, and unhealthy eating habits. However, the good news is that we possess the power to take control of our health and reduce the risk of many diseases through two fundamental pillars: diet and exercise. Let’s delve into the significance of using a balanced diet and regular exercise routine for disease prevention, and explore their transformative impact on overall well-being.

Health & Disease Prevention

Understanding the Role of Diet in Preventing Disease

1. The Power of a Nutrient-Dense Diet

A nutrient-dense diet is the cornerstone of good health. By choosing whole, natural foods over processed ones, we provide our bodies with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These elements are crucial for supporting our immune system, combating inflammation, and warding off chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Studies have shown that nutrition can be directly linked to diseases such as obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and more. What we consume either increases our health or decreases it, and we make those choices every single day. 

 

2. Reducing the Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases

The leading cause of death worldwide, cardiovascular diseases, can often be prevented by making healthier dietary choices. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels, and maintain a healthy weight, all of which significantly contribute to heart health. Unfortunately, we are plagued with advertisements from the food industry, constantly selling us products with little to no nutritional value. In order to lead a heart-healthy life, we have to put down the processed boxes of food and make room for more whole, fresh ingredients. 

Diet & Disease Prevention3. Controlling Diabetes through Diet

Type 2 diabetes, a growing global concern, is closely linked to poor eating habits and obesity. By embracing a diet that includes complex carbohydrates, high lean protein, healthy fats, and limited sugar intake, we can manage blood glucose levels and decrease the risk of developing this metabolic disorder. 

4. Cancer Prevention and Dietary Choices

Research has shown that certain foods, such as cruciferous vegetables, berries, and oily fish, contain compounds that may help protect against cancer. By incorporating these foods into our diet, we can potentially reduce the risk of cancer and enhance our body’s ability to fight off abnormal cell growth.

The Vital Role of Exercise in Disease Prevention

1. Strengthening the Immune System

Regular physical activity has been linked to a strengthened immune system, making us more resilient to infections and illnesses. As we engage in exercise, the body produces more white blood cells, which are critical for combating harmful pathogens and maintaining overall health. Rather than take a pill or supplement to improve the immune system, the answer is as easy as moving your body more. 

2. Improving Cardiovascular Health

Just like diet, exercise plays a central role in preventing cardiovascular diseases. By engaging in a consistent exercise regimen, we increase heart’s efficiency, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. You can start small and build up gradually as your body gets acclimatized. 

Exercise & Disease Prevention3. Weight Management and Exercise

Obesity is a significant risk factor for various diseases. Exercise helps us burn calories and build lean muscle mass, making it an essential tool for weight management. When combined with a healthy diet, regular physical activity becomes even more effective in preventing and managing obesity. Muscle has been shown to increase longevity. If we have a good base of muscle, daily tasks throughout life are much easier to handle. Things like getting on the floor with your kids, carrying a heavy bag of dog food, or putting items overhead to store them in the attic all require muscle. Without muscle, we don’t have healthy movement, and we’re prone to injury and chronic pain.

4. Mental Health and Exercise

Apart from its physical benefits, exercise is a powerful mood booster. Physical activity triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, which can alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression. Stress and negative emotions can weaken the immune system and contribute to various diseases, so maintaining good mental health is crucial for disease prevention.

 

The Synergy between Diet and Exercise

1. Achieving Optimal Health through a Holistic Approach

While diet and exercise are potent tools for disease prevention on their own, their synergy is even more powerful. When combined, they create a virtuous cycle, enhancing each other’s benefits and maximizing their impact on overall health. You will feel better, look better, and not constantly have to worry about chronic disease if you implement both of these components into your lifestyle. 

2. Building Healthy Habits for Life

The key to empowering our health through diet and exercise is consistency and sustainability. Rather than embarking on short-lived fad diets or extreme workout routines, adopting long-term, realistic changes is crucial. Creating healthy habits is a journey, and small, incremental steps can lead to significant improvements over time. 

 

Health is our most valuable asset, and we have the power to protect it through simple yet powerful lifestyle choices. By embracing a nutrient-dense diet and incorporating regular exercise into our daily routine, we can significantly reduce the risk of chronic diseases and enhance our overall well-being. Empower yourself today by taking charge of your health through the transformative combination of diet and exercise, and experience the life-changing benefits of disease prevention and longevity.

 

If you want more guidance on nutrition and what you need to do to manage your health, email Jalpa to set up a consultation!  

 

Jalpa is a registered dietitian and nutritionist with a Master’s degree in Health & Nutrition from Brooklyn College, CUNY in New York. She also holds a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management through the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, CDR.

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Sleep for health and wellness

Importance of Sleep for Nutrition and Wellness: 3 Tips to Get Better Sleep.

Sleep for wellnessSleep is something that we can all easily set aside for more “important” things. The famous saying, “I can sleep when I’m dead” is a good example of how little we value sleep. Whether you’re a mom of littles or a successful entrepreneur, we stay busy! We run on fumes and caffeine to get things done. It’s almost a badge of honor to push through, stay busy, and work more than sleep. However, we are sacrificing sleep to the detriment of our health and wellness. Let’s learn about the importance of sleep in this blog.

It’s easy to set aside because it seems small in the moment, but our chronic lack of sleep is a health hazard. 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough quality sleep to protect their health. That’s about 84 million people! 

If you’re specifically working on fat loss or muscle gain goals, sleep is a critical component. Let’s look at the importance of sleep for your health goals as well as tips on how to get better sleep. 

The Benefits of Sleep

Nutrition is important for getting vital nutrients into the body for energy and proper bodily functions. Exercise is key in reducing stress, keeping up cardiovascular health, as well as maintaining muscle health. The need for sleep is not replaced by either of those two. Sleep recharges both physical and physiological batteries.

While you rest your immune system actually works just as hard as it does during your waking hours. During this time, Human Growth Hormones (HGH) are most efficiently released. Because of this, the amount of sleep you get also contributes to how often you get sick. The less you sleep, the less time you give your immune system to work at its optimum level, and the greater your risk of contracting an illness. Higher rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, stroke, and Alzheimer’s are all issues associated with sleep deprivation. 

As you’ll read below, the importance of sleep can be tied to not only our physical health, but our mental health as well. Sleep deprivation not only affects our bodies physically- but our will power is down in all areas. It is much harder to resist the urge to eat junk food when we’re tired because the body is looking for ways to recover. Cravings for unhealthy foods are stronger when we’re tired. It’s also much harder for the brain to process emotions and stress when we are sleep deprived. Motivation is down, so you’re less likely to go to the gym or be productive. Sleep is very important for a healthy, productive life. 

Sleep for wellness

Physical Benefits of Sleep

  • Sleep is the time that HGH is most efficiently released throughout the body. 

HGH keeps us young. It’s literally a “youth” hormone. The more your body can release it, the younger you look, and the better your body can recover. You’ll notice major differences in fat loss and muscle gain when HGH is efficient throughout your body. 

  • Our bodies’ learn “muscle memory” during sleep. 

This is important for athletes or for anyone with a performance-based career. When you’re learning a new skill, your brain will “practice” that skill over and over during one of the sleep cycles. But if you’re not getting quality sleep, you will never enter that sleep cycle, therefore making it harder to learn and perform that skill. 

  • People that get quality sleep recover better and faster from workouts. 

If your muscle doesn’t have time to rest and recover, it will never get stronger or leaner. For people that are constantly trying to get leaner or stronger, sleep is an easily controlled variable that needs to be prioritized. 

Mental Benefits of Sleep

  • Sleep is when our memories are physically made. 

Sleep allows our bodies to store memories. According to Harvard sleep professors,  slow wave sleep (SWS) is a deep, restorative sleep cycle that collects information from the day and consolidates this info into memories, and stores it in the brain. 

 

  • Higher GPAs are also associated with better sleep quality.

This comes from the sleep cycle where we learn “muscle memory.” If you’re getting quality sleep and entering REM, your brain can take the information you learn and commit it to memory. 

  • Your REM sleep helps with emotional regulation so it can help with being resilient to extreme life events. 

Quality of sleep has been tied to reducing depression and increasing quality of life. People that have reported a high level of quality sleep have shown to be much happier in all areas of life

How to Get Better Sleep. 

Now that you know the importance of sleep, here are three tips to help you get longer and better quality sleep. 

  • Establish a routine and stick with it. 

Consistency is key with this one – as it is with most things. Set a bedtime (and keep it!) Treat your bedtime like it’s your job. Establishing a routine will help reset your circadian rhythms so that you start getting tired as the sun goes down and can wake up naturally as the sun comes up. Screen time is a huge contributor to sleep problems because the light from the phone or tv tells your body it’s time to wake up. It throws your circadian rhythm off. When you do try and fall asleep, it’s very hard for the body to start moving into the proper sleep cycles. Stop looking at screens (phone included) 20 minutes before bed. Find something that helps you “chill” and mentally slow down, like reading a book or practicing relaxation techniques. Stressful things like doing work, discussing emotional issues, and looking at screens cause the body to release cortisol (the stress hormone!) which increases awakeness because the body thinks it needs to be alert for the risky situation.       

     

  • Make sure you’re in a good sleep environment.

A good sleep environment can make the body feel safe, therefore allowing it to get into those really deep sleep cycles. Light is a powerful tool that tells the body it’s time to wake up, so use those black-out curtains. Keep the room as dark as possible. A cool room also helps with quality sleep. If the room is too warm, you’ll toss and turn all night. 

  • Avoid chemicals that interfere with sleep. 

People that are sensitive to caffeine know they have a cut-off time, or they won’t sleep at all. However, for the people that are “used” to caffeine, or think that it doesn’t bother their sleep- that’s not actually true. You may be able to fall asleep, but high amounts of caffeine can interfere with the quality of your sleep. The same goes for alcohol. Most of the time alcohol can make you sleepy, but it still interferes with sleep. It often acts as a stimulant after a few hours causing you to wake up several times. You won’t enter those deep cycles that are so important for proper recovery.  

                                              

The next time you’re tempted to skip sleep to get something done- don’t! Your long-term health is relying on you getting good quality sleep regularly. Acknowledge the importance of sleep today and do the right things to get enough and quality sleep.

 

If you want more guidance on nutrition and what you need to do to manage your health, email Jalpa to set up a consultation!  

 

Jalpa is a registered dietitian and nutritionist with a Master’s degree in Health & Nutrition from Brooklyn College, CUNY in New York. She also holds a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management through the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, CDR.

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Is Social Drinking Ruining My Health? 3 Tips to Practice Moderation

what does alcohol do to your body

A​lcohol consumption is a heavily debated topic among health experts. Some people can lead very healthy lifestyles while still consuming alcohol. And others demand that there is no healthy way to incorporate it. Social drinking is a popular pastime enjoyed by people around the world. It’s a part of almost every culture. It’s often seen as a way to unwind or celebrate big occasions. Wondering if social drinking is ruining your health? 

Due to the addictive properties of alcohol, social drinking can quickly take a turn into a habit that negatively impacts your health.

S​ome of the biggest concerns are:

  • H​ow much alcohol is “safe” to drink per day?
  • H​ow does alcohol affect the brain long term?
  • I​s alcohol preventing me from reaching my fat loss goals?
  • D​oes alcohol actually prevent fat loss or muscle gain?

Social Drinking vs Heavy Drinking

Before diving into health risks, we need to determine social drinking versus heavy drinking. How much is okay and how much is a deadly habit? Social drinking is consuming alcohol during social situations, such as a party or a dinner with friends. It is usually done in moderation – a small amount over a long period of time. Heavy drinking involves consumption of large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time- usually resulting in drunkenness or loss of control.

W​hen compared with heavy drinking, social drinking seems harmless. Most people know the risks of heavy drinking – liver damage, addiction, etc. Because social drinking is much “lighter” it can be hard to see or even care about the small risks. Alcohol – in any amount – is a toxin to the body. But there are some levels that have been deemed “safe”. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines say a moderate limit is 1 drink a day for women and 2 drinks a day for men. However, while binge drinking or heavy drinking is mostly thought of as a college behavior, studies have shown that people carry this behavior into their lifestyle post-college. The National Institutes of Health says that regular heavy drinking can damage the brain (specifically the frontal cortex), which will inhibit decision-making.

B​ut what if you genuinely stick to the “social drinking” guidelines and are truly a moderate to light drinker? Does alcohol still pose a risk to your health?

Social drinking vs alcoholic

Social drinking and your health

U​nfortunately, because alcohol is a toxin, there are still health risks even if you drink moderately. It may not seem harmful, because these effects are small and add up over time. If you have health goals whether it’s fat loss or muscle gain, these adverse effects need to be taken into consideration.

1​. Weight Gain – Alcohol contains a high number of calories and regular consumption of alcohol can lead to weight gain. We all love a snack post-drinking as well, which makes it much more likely that you’re going to eat more calories than you would if you weren’t drinking.

2​. Poor Sleep – A​lcohol always disrupts sleep. Even if you go to sleep more easily or it makes you tired, the quality of sleep you’re getting is not real. Alcohol prevents your body from going through all the important phases of sleep that it needs in order to recover well.

3​. Mental Health Issues – Regular alcohol consumption can increase your risk of developing mental health issues, including depression and anxiety.

Three of the most important things needed for weight loss – a calorie deficit, quality sleep, and mental energy (willpower!) – are affected by alcohol. While it may be fun in the moment, social drinking may be what continues to derail your diet and your results.

B​ut don’t worry – there are ways to be flexible with it so that you can still enjoy social outings and continue to push for the results you want.

3​ Tips to Practice Moderation while Drinking

how much alcohol is safe to drink daily

1​. Set limits.

B​e honest with yourself and put parameters around your social outings if you’re serious about your health goals. If you know you’ll be going out for drinks with a friend on Saturday night, skip the drinks throughout the week so that the amount of alcohol you’re consuming isn’t adding up throughout the week. It’s also smart to know that you’re going to want or need food after a few drinks.

T​here are two food adjustments you can make that will help you stick with your weight loss or muscle gain goals while drinking. Because alcohol does contribute a lot of calories, make sure dinner is focused on protein and high-fiber carbohydrates such as vegetables. This will keep dinner on the lower calorie side, but will still be satisfying. If you lean more towards high fats and high carbs (like a basket of french fries!) it’s very easy to mindlessly eat them while drinking. By staying focused on protein and high-fiber carbs, you’ll be nourishing your body without the chance of overeating. 

You can also make sure to have a snack prepared for post-drinking. But have it already portioned. You’re likely to snack your way through a full bag of chips when you get home if you’ve had a few drinks. If you have individually portioned bags, you’ll keep calories under control. This snack can also be a high-fiber carb – like Skinny Pop!

2​. Keep it low in sugar

W​hile most people love sugary cocktails- these are full of empty calories. And they’re easy to gulp down. If you stick with a drink mixed with club soda vs sugary mixes, you’re going to sip it slowly. And the calorie count can stay low. 

3​. Take a break.

Studies have shown that your health and body can “reset” with a break from alcohol. It’s okay to go through a “season of no” to pursue your health goals. While taking care of your health isn’t always as celebrated like drinking is – it can absolutely be worth it. Just one month without alcohol can have effects such as:

  • Healthier skin
  • ​Better sleep
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improved B​ody composition (less fat!)
  • G​I system improves (the lining of your gut that acts as a barrier to keep harmful pathogens out is repaired after just 3 weeks without alcohol)
  • Less brain fog

N​ot sure you could stick to a break while being peer pressured to drink? Just test the waters. Order a club soda with lime while at dinner with friends- so that you do still have a drink in hand – and see how it goes. You may be surprised at the support you receive when choosing to take a break.

If you want more guidance on nutrition and what you need to do to manage your health, email Jalpa to set up a consultation!  

 

Jalpa is a registered dietitian and nutritionist with a Master’s degree in Health & Nutrition from Brooklyn College, CUNY in New York. She also holds a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management through the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, CDR.

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