Increasing Your Alcohol Free Nights: The Why and How

Weight Loss & Nutrition

About PJ

It’s a satisfying feeling to be part of a team that has such a positive impact on people’s lives. I graduated from Health and Sports Science in 2004 as an Exercise Physiologist. It’s my job at Ignite to do whatever I can to ensure our clients are using Ignite and getting the great results that everyone wants.
Time and time again we see that there are 2-3 changes a person can make that will lead to 80%-90% of their results and I believe for many people reducing or eliminating alcohol intake is one of those changes!
We’ve long heard about the benefits of having at least 2 alcohol free nights a week to help prevent liver disease and reduce our cumulative exposure to alcohol to help prevent cancers of the mouth, throat, breast and colon. But the benefits extend well beyond this.
I frequently recommend to Ignite clients that they try and aim for at least 4 alcohol free nights per week to really start to change their relationship with alcohol and start to develop and practice alternative unwinding techniques that in time are equally as relaxing but far more nourishing than reaching straight for a glass of wine or a beer.
Reducing your number of alcohol free nights is an excellent way to reduce your alcohol consumption and  it will help you achieve your goals irrespective of what they are, whether it’s fat loss, muscle gain, athletic performance, better energy, or just improved general health and feeling good. It does so by doing the following:
Less calories: Having a mineral water with a squirt of fresh lemon juice with dinner as opposed to a couple of glasses of wine is a significant reduction in calories, to the tune of 170 calories in 2 standard drinks worth of red wine! Multiply this as days become decades and it certainly adds up.
Less oxidation stress: Oxidative stress accelerates the aging process, so on alcohol free days, you can give your liver a break and minimise your exposure to those nasty, aging free radicals which are produced when alcohol is broken down in the liver. The scientifically minded can read up a bit more about that here.
Better Sleep: Alcohol reduces the amount of time spent in REM sleep, our most restorative and rejuvinative part of the sleep cycle. Alcohol free nights will improve your sleep on these nights which has several positive knock on effects:
Better training and recovery: Better sleep means you adapt and recover better from your training sessions and helps you maintain good energy through the week and hit your desired number of workouts for the week, with a good mindset, energy and intensity!
Better stress management and cognition: Good sleep helps with your cognitive function, decision making and ability to deal with the unexpected and ultimately manage stress. Once stress levels are under control, the pull to an evening glass of wine to relax and unwind is drastically reduced……. and thus we’ve come full circle and are ready for another alcohol free night and all the benefits that come with it!
1) Decide to make it a priority and give yourself a target! i.e. 4 alcohol free nights per week. I like this number for people who are in the habit of drinking almost every day as it means that on more days than not you’ll be waking up after a great nights sleep, ready to take on whatever life has to thrown at you.
2) Get your partner on board. It’s pretty hard to hit your alcohol free nights if when you get home from a long day at work there’s a drink poured and waiting for you next to your dinner!
3) Recognise your triggers. There’s always patterns to our behaviors and understanding your habit is an important first step to changing it.  For many the trigger to drink alcohol is coming home from a long day at work, or social scenario’s, business lunches etc.
4)  Strategise solutions to your triggers and enjoy a range of alternative enriching and restorative ways to shutdown and relax in the evening. Some suggestions that have worked for me and others include going for a walk, reading a book, having a bath, getting a massage, listening to some music, playing an instrument, meditating, having a real, fully focused conversation with your partner or a friend, drawing or crafting, sitting on the deck and watching the world go by…. I’m sure there’s more and I’d love to hear what works for you!