If like me, you like the occasional beer (or cocktail, or bottle of wine, or g+t, or cheeky whisky, or….), you may find the concept of cutting-down on alcohol pretty challenging. The fact of the matter is that not only does alcohol dramatically add to our calorie intake (one pint of lager is around 200 calories), but it also reduces the body’s ability to efficiently process fat. Sports such as running and cycling tend to favour people with low body fat, according to nutrition literature such as ‘Racing Weight’.
Given that, what can we substitute for alcohol, so that we can avoid it as much as possible? In training for this year’s London Triathlon, here are the substitutes I found.
The combination of fresh lime, Ice and diet tonic water pretty much nails the flavour of the standard g+t, but without the boozy overload. This one is definitely a winner. One handy twist on this one is swapping the tonic water for soda water. Still calorie free, but with the added bonus of being one of the tastiest drinks you can order in a pub/bar that you might be able to get for free; many pubs don’t charge for fresh lime or for soda water…. win!
Smoothies are a good solution, although they can have a bit of a fat/sugar overhead.
- 1 banana
- 6 strawberries
- 2 tablespoons of Greek yoghurt
- fresh ginger
- a handful of baby spinach leaves
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 4 ice cubes
Throw all of that into a blender, and blend until totally mashed. Miss out the honey if you want to go ultra healthy. It’s pretty hard to make a decent smooothie without the fructose element though! In my experience, strawberry, banana, yoghurt and honey are the basis for most decent smoothies. On top of that, you can pretty much add any fruit or veg according to how experimental you want to get.
I recommend getting a teapot for this one. Once you learn to embrace the bitter taste of green tea, it can be quite a winner. For me, it also acts as a bit of an appetite suppressant, which can help a lot.
Ginger & Honey Iced Tea
This is another drink requiring a teapot. put three to four Twinings Ginger Teabags into a teapot, with a tablespoon of honey. Brew with boiled water for 15 minutes. Then transfer the mix into a container into the fridge for 15 minutes. You can then drink that by straining over ice into a glass. Absolute winner. Sure, there’s a sucrose hit with the honey, but compared to a sugary soft drink, it’s pretty skinny. One can of coca cola can have as much as 9 teaspoons of sugar in, where this drink equates to closer to two.
If you can train yourself to constantly drink plain old water, then you are on to a winner. Nutritionists suggest that we should be drinking 2 litres of water per day. That figure should be higher if you are doing a sporting activity.