Just One More drink? Alcohol and it’s affect on your fitness

This is not anti-drinking alcohol propaganda.  For me to preach that you should not drink would be hypocritical since I drink socially myself.  However, if you do decide to drink I think it is important for you know the risks.  Now everyone knows that drinking alcohol is bad for your general health but do you know what it does to your body that can get in the way of your fitness goals specifically?  That is what this article will focus on.  Enjoy…

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EFFECTS OUTSIDE OF THE GYM

Ethanol.  Sound familiar?  It is a fuel that most commonly recognized as being used as motor fuel.  It is also in that alcohol beverage you drank last night.  If your still feeling a little uneasy it is because that ethanol has toxic metabolic byproducts called acetaldehyde and acetate which both cause a nauseous feeling.  Along with that sick feeling that the drink was nice enough to give you it also has taken a shot at your digestion.  This disruption in your digestion is important for multiple reasons:

  • It can impair your bodies process of protein synthesis.  Protein synthesis is important as it drives the main mechanism in body growth/change.
  • Makes it extremely difficult for your body to absorb amino acids.  Amino acids create protein, support your metabolism, protect your heart, and even be used as energy when your body is short on carbs & fat.
  • Disrupts the absorption of B-Vitamins.  There are actually 8 different nutrients that make up vitamin B but collectively they work as a team to fortify your nervous and immune system, improve skin and muscle health, encourage cell growth and boost metabolism

Testosterone is a hormone that is directly associated with muscle growth.  Hence why men typically carry a great deal more muscle than women.  However, when we throw alcohol in the body it quickly makes it way down to your liver and a toxic substance is released in the liver which decreases the testosterone level.  This leads to lower muscle mass and far less definition.  Speaking of that definition…have you achieved that chiseled look that you set out a plan to get on January 1st?  Got that beach bod that you can’t wait to show off once we get out of this winter mess?  Those drinks that you have been waiting all week to have may have more calories and sugar than you think.

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…and I know your not just having one.

EFFECTS WHILE TRAINING

Training should be hard.  You should be leaving the gym with a puddle of sweat under you and some sore muscles.  So why do we throw a wrench in the system and make it even tougher for ourselves?  Alcohol affects our performance in the gym many different ways.

Alcohol is a diuretic.  It causes your kidney to create more urine and can lead to dehydration.  As you workout your core temperature rises and sweating occurs (hopefully this occurs when you workout) causing further dehydration.  Mix these two occurrences together and it can cause serious damage to your body.  Hydration is vital, especially during working out, because it maintains proper blood flow throughout the body which is needed to circulate oxygen and nutrients to your muscles.  Professor Greg Whyte, an expert in sports performance explains that “Hydration also helps control your body temperature so you’re more likely to overheat if you’ve been drinking alcohol.”

Alcohol also disrupts the way our body creates energy.  While your liver is busy metabolizing alcohol it cannot produce as much glucose. This in turn results in low levels of blood sugar. “If your body is forced to run from your supplies of fat rather than blood sugar, you will be slower and have less energy and won’t be able to exercise as intensely,” says Professor Whyte.   This has an immediate effect on your coordination and concentration but also has long term effects on how your body stores future calories.  As I explained in a previous article about cardio methods, (click here for full article) when you put your body through workouts that your body fuels itself mainly from your body fat it will prepare itself for your next workout by making sure it has enough body fat to fuel your next workout.

POSITIVES OF DRINKING?

It can’t all be bad right?  Well in alcohols defense, there has been studies linking moderate drinking to health benefits.  Most popular is that drinking a glass of red wine at night with dinner can increase your heart health.  There are also studies that show that beer drinking in moderation can also improve your immune system and promote a healthy heart.

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Like I said at the start of this, it would be hypocritical to tell you all to stop drinking.  In my opinion the most important thing to remember is that if you are going to drink then drink in moderation.

Until Next Time…

Ryan
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