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Shape Up: Time to tackle the facts


Library Image. Photo: Getty Images

Library Image. Photo: Getty Images

Library Image. Photo: Getty Images

So, how are you enjoying the Six Nations so far? A decent win against Italy and a disappointing defeat at the hands of France have kept fans glued to their bar stools.

Lately, Monday mornings in the gym have become confession time. This is the customary day to take body fat and weight measurements to check the progress of the week before. In the last fortnight I've had to listen to tales of clients "having" to have a piece of "social cake" and most recently grown men and women have been "forced" to drink alcohol to enable them to watch the rugby matches properly!

In my normal understanding tone, I proceed to tell them that I have never met anyone who has drunk or eaten anything by accident. The people in your social circle and how you let them affect you will have a greater influence on the direction of your life than any other factor.

Nowhere do personal associations influence you more than in your quest for optimal health and a better body and alcohol intake has a massive influence if you want to change your body composition.

Let's do the maths. When we burn more energy than we ingest, we lose weight and if we take on more energy than we burn, we gain weight. One gram of carbohydrates contains four calories, 1g of protein also contains four calories, 1g of fat is nine calories and 1g of alcohol is seven calories.

While fat has the highest reading here, it is not the enemy. It is the quantity of each macronutrient you consume that will influence your ability to change your body shape but none are as devastating as alcohol.

So, when you hop up onto a bar stool next Sunday to watch the game against Scotland, keep the following analysis in mind. A pint of beer contains approximately 198 calories. Multiply this by eight -- the average number of pints consumed by blokes on a night out -- and you've now clocked up 1,600 calories.

With his belly full of beer, and in order to extend the night's proceedings, Joe Punter then switches to shots of vodka, at around 98 calories per glass. But you could never have straight vodka! You need a double vodka with a Red Bull to keep you awake!

The ladies aren't much better with their 'lady like' small bottles of vino. Five glasses later she is well on the way to exceeding her daily required intake. Come Monday, both clients are scratching their heads as to why their body shape won't budge in the right direction.

The base rate of calories each body needs is different and depends on your sex, height, age, weight and activity but a ballpark figure would be approximately 1,300 calories for females for weight loss and 2,000 for males.

As Jack Nicholson is famous for saying in 'A Few Good Men', "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth." The truth is you are not strong enough to reveal the real you.

Instead you want to be like 'Fun Bobby', the alter ego of a character in 'Friends', who was was electric when drinking alcohol but a shadow of his former self otherwise.

Ireland's Six Nations culminates with a showdown against England at the Aviva on March 19, after which our national team will no doubt turn their attention to the World Cup in September.

Perhaps by the time that tournament comes round the message will have sunk in that alcohol and buff bodies do not mix.


Health & Living