HOW ALCOHOL CAN AFFECT PERFORMANCE & PROGRESS
All about booze
One of the most difficult aspects for many when it comes to a new health and fitness routine is their nutrition and the importance of clean eating/hydration not only for a healthy mind and body but for longevity of life.
A topic that has come up many times in our experience is alcohol consumption and how this can affect not only weight loss and muscle gain but performance as well as other areas in relation to training and overall quality of life.
Most people enjoy a drink or 2, but is it really worth it? If you're looking to take your training to the next level, let us take a deeper look at alcohol, and then you can make that decision for yourself or at least leave with a little more knowledge on what effect it is truly having on you.
Is alcohol detrimental, truly?
First and foremost it is worth noting that alcohol overall acts as a depressant which slows the communication between brain cells. Depending on the amount consumed, it can have negative effects on decisions, coordination and choices. When alcohol is in the bloodstream, it can have an effect on parts of the brain, particularly the cerebellum. This plays a crucial role when it comes to muscle control/activity and can have a major impact on balance and therefore on your performance.
Alcohol also acts as a diuretic, it speeds up the process in which you eliminate fluid from the body. You'll lose vital electrolytes alongside this, meaning if they are not replaced you will fatigue much faster when exercising.
If you delve a little deeper you will find that alcohol is also linked to the disruption of protein synthesis and binge drinking or drinking above the norm on regular occasions can decrease testosterone levels and increase cortisol levels, known to have an extremely negative impact on muscle quality. Alcohol contains no nutritional value in its calories either and any alcohol usually contains a high amount of calories.
It all sounds like a recipe for disaster doesn't it? Well not entirely..
How to incorporate alcohol into a healthy lifestyle?
With all of the negative aspects in mind, it can be hard to find anything positive about alcohol. But, like us, you can certainly include it in your lifestyle and make it work for you. Especially if you are someone social or you just like a drink now and again.
The important word here is moderation. It can be enjoyed, but not excessively. You may find you drink more at weekends, if this is the case, you still can have a cheeky tipple, but think about reducing the amount you're sinking and perhaps opt for lower calorie options like the classic gin and slimline. This will certainly help if weight loss is a goal and will help anyway to keep calories down so you can consume more from whole foods. It may even be worth drinking water alongside alcohol and limiting yourself to a healthy/safe amount, knowing when to stop is good.
On the flip side, you may drink during the week. If this is the case, reduce the number of days that you consume and associate it with a nice meal, once or twice a week. This way you will enjoy it more, keep the calories down and drink less to the point of it affecting your training and life!
Last few points…
To wrap this topic up, I wanted to outline the main parts below and how you can avoid/help alleviate the effects of alcohol on training performance:
Dehydration - Alcohol can cause dehydration. If consuming alcohol around training, it is worth drinking extra water both during the session and before/after to help combat the loss of fluids through sweat. Stay hydrated and avoid dehydration!
Protein Synthesis - This is a vital process in which muscle mass is increased and quality is maintained. Both long and short-term alcohol abuse can affect the overall quality of muscle!
Quality of Sleep - If you are taking training seriously, you will know a thing or two about rest and recovery. Sleep is one of the most important. Even if you feel you slept well, the quality will be much lower with alcohol in your body. If you train the day after a heavy session of alcohol, expect a low-quality workout in strength, energy and mood!
The HANGOVER! - Some can be worse than others, but even a mild hangover can cause headaches, and fatigue and increase the chance of making poor nutritional choices. Not to mention a poor quality training session if undertaken!
Calories and Energy - As mentioned above, alcohol contains large amounts of calories and it is far easier to consume liquid calories. A little-known fact is that your body cannot convert alcohol calories into glycogen to be used for energy. Therefore, the only thing it can do is be stored as… fat! This can have an adverse effect on overall body fat. When it comes to energy, alcohol reduces this by reducing your overall levels of blood sugar. When training, you will have a better workout the higher your energy levels are. Knowing this can help understand why you may feel fatigued after drinking.
Moderation - Like anything that has negative consequences on health/mind/body, enjoy it in moderation and don't take it over the top! Prioritize what is important to you and you can still enjoy a drink now and again in a safe manner.
Hopefully, this blog post deepens your understanding of alcohol and how best to utilize it around your training! If it helps, please let us know in the studio!