Ever wondered what alcohol does to your body or how alcohol impacts fitness? Maybe you fancy taking a break from alcohol to see if you feel healthier. Giving up the booze can be challenging, but millions of people reap the benefits of dry January every year.
If you can manage two weeks without the booze, here’s what to expect:
According to recent research, drinking alcohol before bed increases alpha brain waves – activity which usually occurs while you’re awake. This disrupts your sleep. While alcohol makes you fall asleep more quickly and deeply, it also messes up the quality of sleep later in the night.
Two weeks off alcohol will help you wake more refreshed and alert, which will boost your concentration and performance at work and play.
Alcohol is a big contributor to overeating. One study found that having two drinks makes you eat 30% more food. This may be due to alcohol increasing our sensitivity to food smells. Ditch the evening glass of wine and you may well find you eat less at dinnertime.
Your calorie intake will also reduce significantly in two weeks. Men in particular underestimate the calories they consume from alcohol – 433 on a ‘moderate’ day. Two glasses of wine contain 250 calories so that’s quite a potential saving if you like a glass of red with your evening meal.
A few days without booze and you’ll notice a definite glow as your skin becomes more hydrated. This is because alcohol is a diuretic so causes you to urinate more and reabsorb less water, which equals dry-looking skin.
Just like sugar, alcohol boosts dopamine levels and fuels happy feelings in your brain. Giving up alcohol makes you more likely to reach for something else to give you that rush of pleasure. So maybe hide the biscuit tin for the next couple of weeks!
Alcohol isn’t a cheap drink. Calculate the amount you’d normally spend on alcohol each week and let this amount motivate you to stick to your no-booze plan.
REDUCED CANCER RISK (though increased risk of heart disease)
The more alcohol you drink the more you increase your risk of cancers of the mouth, liver, colon and rectum. 14 days off will start reducing this risk.
It’s not all good news. Abstaining from alcohol can make you feel like you’re missing out, which can make you feel fed up and irritable. If you’ve been using alcohol as an emotional crutch you might also have to face feelings and issues you’ve been avoiding.
Keep exercising during your two weeks off and this will help keep your mood lifted.