Drinking and fitness don’t have to be mutually exclusive. After all, both can make you feel good—in moderation. Without that moderation, though, both can lead to body aches, intense sweating, even vomiting (not to mention a creeping sense of regret). So where’s the balance? Professional trainers Josh Grimm, Seth Gottesdiener, and Courtney Paul have the answers.
First and foremost, before a night—or, hell, afternoon—of boozing, fill up your stomach. “Go for protein, along with healthy fats like salmon, avocados, and walnuts,” Grimm says.
Second, remember that it’s all about choices. Champagne has fewer calories per serving than wine (about 84 versus 100 for a 4-ounce glass). But beer has fewer calories per ounce (about 8 to 12), and a lot of light options: Bud Light (110 calories, 6.6 grams of carbs), Heineken Light (99 calories, 7 grams of carbs), Corona Light (99 calories, 5 grams of carbs), and Miller 64, which, with a mere 64 calories and 2.4 grams of carbs, may as well be water.
If you’re more into the hard stuff, remember that most liquors contain about 70 calories—and zero carbs!—per ounce. Paul recommends forgoing sugary fruit juices and sodas and trying green juice as a mixer. “The green juice will make it refreshing to sip on while nourishing the body full of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins,” he says. If that’s not your cup of twisted tea, opt for one of the classics: vodka or tequila soda with a splash of lime.
Whatever booze you choose, make sure you stick with it. “When your body has different types of alcohols, cocktails, and mixers going through it,” Gottesdiener says, “it’s harder to metabolize them efficiently—which will more likely lead to a hangover.” Grimm adds that you should stay well hydrated, drinking 12 ounces of water for every alcoholic drink. This may seem like a lot, but, the next day, it could make the difference between hitting the gym or hitting the snooze button.
If you’ve managed to resist the temptation of a post-bar, 20-piece Chicken McNugget meal, the only empty calories you’ll have to worry about in the morning will come from the alcohol.
The best way to get rid of them? Sweat ’em out. According to Paul, HIIT (high-intensity interval training), like a boot camp or weight training with cardio, is your best bet. “You’ll not only work and sculpt your muscles,” he says, “but also burn fat.”
None of this matters, however, if you go hard when you should really go home. Gottesdiener’s advice: Come up with a strategic moderation plan, such as telling yourself how many drinks you’re going to have and actually keeping your word.
And if you’re a stumbler with a tumbler after only two vodkas, there’s always the buddy system. “Tell your wingman or wingwoman your limit, and hold each other accountable,” Gottesdiener says. “Even set a timer if you need to.”
High-intensity interval drinking, anyone?