We often hear reports claiming a little bit of red wine at dinner time can help prevent heart disease. But, if you're someone who takes fitness very seriously, you might want to take a closer look at alcohol's effects on your performance.
Sweating it out after drinking alcohol aggravates your dehydration levels. Your muscles struggle to receive oxygen and nutrients because the flow of blood gets disrupted, which impacts your performance. According to dietician and researcher, Amanda Turner, "If you're more than 2 percent dehydrated when you start a workout, your performance isn't going to be as good as if you were fully hydrated."
If your body is busy breaking down alcohol to get rid of its toxic by-products, then your liver cannot provide enough glucose supplies, which basically means your blood sugar levels will remain low after drinking. Why is this a problem? Well, exercise requires high levels of energy from sugar as a source. And, if this source is unavailable, fat becomes the next source, which slows you down and impacts hand-eye coordination, concentration and quick decision-making.
Alcohol consumption impacts the breakdown of lactic acid, which could leave your muscles very sore, especially if you’re a runner. Furthermore, because alcohol impacts your REM sleep - which is when your immune system gets rejuvenated - it impacts muscle synthesis. Dehydration from alcohol also increases the risk for muscle cramps, muscle strains and muscle pulls. Not a very pleasant situation to be in, right?
Regular drinking can delay recovery from injuries because a) it can cause more swelling, b) it overworks your liver, which is an organ also needed for muscle recovery, and c) it impacts protein synthesis negatively, which is linked to muscle development and maintenance.
If you must drink before an important match or a training session, then make sure you stick to only one drink with your meal. One drink means 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer and 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits - do not be fooled by the size of a large glass! Definitely avoid drinking right after exercising, especially if you haven't had enough H20 to replace lost fluids. And, lastly, keep en eye out on what you’re eating with your booze, because drinking usually increases cravings for high-calorie dishes.
No, don't worry - we aren't suggesting you quit alcohol forever! But, we do hope you're now mindful of its impact on your fitness, so you can regulate your alcohol consumption accordingly, especially before and after intense workout sessions and competitive matches.
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