Should You Take Part In Dry January?

Much like Stoptober, No Shave November, and Decembeard, Dry January is another month long viral challenge designed to raise money and awareness for illnesses and charities. The focus of Dry January is to go the full month without drinking alcohol, which usually ties in nicely with any post-Christmas/New Year regrets. It’s estimated that the average British couple could save over £270 in a single month just from abstaining from alcohol. That’s a lot of cash to save when you consider you don’t actually have to do anything. It’s estimated that alcohol related damage costs England around £21bn per year, costing the NHS £3.5bn, £11bn spent tackling alcohol-related crime and £7.3bn from lost work days and reduced productivity.

Alcohol Statistics

  • More than 9 million people in England drink more than the recommended daily limits
  • In the UK, in 2014 there were 8,697 alcohol-related deaths
  • In England and Wales, 63% of all alcohol-related deaths in 2012 were caused by alcoholic liver disease
  • In 2012, 178,247 prescriptions for drugs to treat alcohol dependency were prescribed
  • There were 8,270 casualties of drink driving accidents in the UK in 2013, including 240 fatalities and 1,100 people who suffered serious injury
  • The NHS estimates that around 9% of adult men in the UK and 4% of UK adult women show signs of alcohol dependence

A lot of people take part in abstaining to pair up nicely with their January health and fitness resolutions. The calories that come from alcohol are considered “empty” meaning they have little to no nutritional value. Although most alcoholic drinks contain traces of vitamins and minerals, it’s often not usually in amounts that make any real contribution to our diet.

The average pint of lager contains over 200 calories, meaning a person that only drinks at the weekend, (4 pints of lager on a Friday and Saturday night) could save over a whopping 1,600 calories per week simply by switching out the beer for water. Even for the most iron willed individuals, our inhibitions tend to slip when under the influence, especially when it comes to food, which is generally why foods such as kebabs and curries are go to favourites after a night out, and fry ups and pizza tend to come hand in hand with hangovers.

Ditching these foods along with the drink can slim your waist line, improve your heart health and give your liver and kidneys a well-deserved rest. Whether you swap the shots out for protein shakes, or simply order a water when you get to the bar instead, the difference can be life changing, as it’s not just hangovers and an empty wallet you need to worry about.

One of the biggest issues men face is lower testosterone levels. Testosterone is a hormone responsible for the development of the male sexual characteristics. Females also produce testosterone, but generally in smaller amounts. Without adequate testosterone, men become infertile as the process of spermatogenesis (development of mature sperm) requires testosterone. It is also responsible for sex drive, bone mass, fat distribution, muscle size and red blood cell production.

Abnormally low (or high) levels can greatly impact both a man’s physical and mental health. The link between alcohol and low testosterone levels has been around for some time, but has been blown to slightly mythic proportions in the last few years, as drinking beer casually is unlikely to affect your levels, but if it starts to become a habit, you run the real risk of reducing your levels. Testosterone, which has a powerful fat loss effect, is reduced whenever alcohol is consumed, thus halting its full potential as a fat burner. Also, it acts as an anabolic hormone and contributes to gains in lean muscle mass.

Lowered testosterone means fewer muscle gains, and less muscle means a lowered metabolic rate. A lower metabolic rate will make the job of losing fat all the more difficult. By interfering with testosterone production, alcohol indirectly causes the body to lower its metabolic rate (and thus the rate at which it uses energy) and directly prohibits testosterone from exerting its powerful fat-burning effects.

Thank you for reading!