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Alcohol: What Every Personal Trainer Should Know

Avatar for Hadyn Luke Hadyn Luke posted this on Friday 13th of April 2012 Hadyn Luke 13/04/2012


Alcohol: What Every Personal Trainer Should Know

Todays fitness blog covers the monitoring of alcohol unit intake and its effects on our health.  A good personal trainer course will cover education on alcohol consumption, including calorific and nutritional value, working out units and the impact it has on the body’s prioritisation of macronutrients.

Personal trainers should advise their clients about the effect of alcohol on the body. For example, many people won’t be aware that alcohol has seven calories per gramme, which is three more than protein or carbohydrate at four calories per gramme, and only a little way behind fat, at nine calories per gramme.

It is not difficult for a personal trainer to help a client work out how many units of alcohol are in a specific drink.

For example:

  • A 25ml shot of vodka at 40% alcohol  =  25 x 40 ÷ 1,000  =  1 unit
  • A pint of beer at, say, 5% alcohol  =  568ml x 5 ÷ 1,000  =  2.8 units
  • A large glass of wine, 250ml at 12% alcohol   =  250 x 12 ÷ 1,000  =  3 units

The UK government recommends that men should limit their alcohol intake to no more than 3-4 units a day and a total of 21 a week. For women the limit is 2-3 units a day and a total of no more than 14 a week. Personal trainers should be aware of these recommended limits.

If a personal trainer is advising a client on their fitness levels or losing weight, they should make them aware of these figures and also the benefits of having alcohol-free days and drinking plenty of water, especially when training. Those with specific health issues should consult with their doctor, as alcohol may be inadvisable.

Alcohol is processed and may contain chemicals, stabilisers, preservatives and flavourings; it also contains simple sugars but no complex carbs  (polysaccharides), vitamins, minerals or fibre.

One important detail that a personal trainer should tell their clients is that alcohol has no nutritional value, only empty calories, and cannot be stored in the body in any form  (fat, glycogen, amino acids etc). So when a person drinks alcohol, their body will use the alcohol as its main energy source and store any additional calories they consume. If you drink with a meal, the calories in the food will therefore be stored rather than burned off as energy. This is why you might develop a beer belly – from the food you are eating while your body is busy metabolising the alcohol.

If you would like to find out more about the way the body uses alcohol or about personal trainer courses, visit Level 3 Certificate in Personal Training.

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