Thursday, March 1, 2012

FITNESS : Blame it on the Alcohol

The freshman 15 has become less of a joke and more of a prophecy. Maybe if you go to a school with a lot of hills, it’s the “Freshman 10”. On the other hand, if you go to a school with yummy late night delivery, it could be the Freshman 20. This epidemic can be blamed on many different factors, but I believe one screams much louder than the others: booze.
“Drinking doesn’t make you fat-- just take shots without a chaser!”
“Just don’t drink beer!”
“It’s fine to drink, as long as you don’t get the ‘drunchies’ afterward!”
When I told friends that I wanted to go on a temporary alcohol hiatus, this was the feedback I received. As much as I wanted to find solace in this comforting advice, I knew it was uninformed and that I had to do some research of my own.  
It is part of college culture to want to be a “heavy weight” or a “tank.” The more you can drink [without being on the bathroom floor], the “cooler” and more “experienced” you are. However “experienced” these avid drinkers are at the party the night before, they face the same weight issues as everyone else the next morning.
The average single shot has about 100 calories. For higher proof alcohols, you can expect an even greater number. Therefore, the calories you consume during a night-out could range anywhere from 200 calories to over 1000 (This may or may not include the loaf of bread you eat in the morning to absorb the alcohol in your stomach). This number varies based on the number of alcoholic drinks, the type of alcohol, and tasty additions, such as high-sugar syrups and juices. Unfortunately, our metabolisms slow down at the end of the day, so our bodies are even more prone to holding on to these calories, rather than burning them off at the usual, daily rate.
Drinking games, sake bombs, and beer pong are all significant (and fun!) aspects of college culture. Drinking can be a fulfilling and relaxing experience, whether it is celebrating a friend’s 21rst with some margaritas or calmly drinking a glass of wine at dinner. For those who are health-conscious and also choose to drink should be aware of the secret calories hidden in their cup. An alcoholic drink (or drinks) should be budgeted into your daily caloric intake like any food or treat. Just because our shot glasses don’t feature nutritional labels, doesn’t mean that the calories don’t exist within them! Just because vodka looks like water, doesn’t mean that it carries the same health benefits.
I suggest if you plan on having a night out, try to go on a run beforehand, or maybe skip out on that chocolate chip cookie. Don’t obsess-- just be aware. The Freshman 15 is not going to kill you. It is normal to gain weight during this time of transition, or any other time of dramatic change. Regardless, you should always be informed about what you are consuming and ingesting.
Some useful tips (If you care about your body and still want to go to the party):
·      Sip your mixed drink slowly. Drinking is not a race, despite what most fraternity brothers say.
·      Try mixing healthier “chasers” with your mixed drink such as diet sodas or fruit juices with low sugar, rather than energy drinks or high calorie soda.
·      A glass of red wine is good for the heart---not 5.
·      Light beers.
·      Avoid margaritas or daiquiris.

The Woman Behind the Fitness Section:
Samantha Salis is a Psychology Major and Political Economy Minor at UC Berkeley. She is a dedicated young woman, ambitious and sharp as a whip. Our dear Samantha tutors high schoolers and works at a Psychology lab at UC Berkeley. Even with this busy schedule, Ms. Salis creates the time to divulge to us her passion about the fitness and health of women, and is (fortunately for us) very well informed on these topics. Enjoy!

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