Sometimes after a long day at work, all you can think about is having a nice cold beer or having a few glasses of wine. Or since it’s summer, maybe you’re attending a bbq, or at the beach with a cooler stocked with alcoholic beverages.
Not all of us drink, but plenty of us enjoy having the occasional drink or two. Drinking alcoholic beverages can have negative connotations, but it can provide some benefits as well.
As grown adults, we can make our own decisions. We are just going to discuss how alcohol works within the body and the negative/positive effects it can have on our performance/body composition.
After consuming an alcoholic beverage, the alcohol makes its way to your stomach where around 20-25% of it gets absorbed immediately into your blood stream. The rest goes to your small intestine, where it will be absorbed later. Once the alcohol is in the blood stream, it makes its way to your liver to get broken down.
A normal liver can breakdown about one shot, a pint of beer or one glass of wine every 90 minutes. The rate of metabolism depends on body fat percentage, age, genetics, and gender (typically men process alcohol faster than women). The alcohol that hasn’t been processed by the liver will remain in our blood stream waiting to be metabolized, which increases our “blood alcohol content”.
The first couple of drinks can help us relax, as alcohol is a depressant.
Now that we know how alcohol works, let’s talk about some of the positives.
You commonly hear in the news how “drinking a glass of red wine is good for you”. There are studies saying that moderate alcohol intake is associated with a lower risk of diabetes, gallstones, and coronary heart disease.
Light to moderate drinking seems to be good for the heart and circulatory system, helping reduce your risk of cardiac arrest and clot-caused stroke by 25 to 40 percent.
Still, most health experts wouldn’t recommend that a non-drinker start drinking. The reason for this is that we don’t really know if any amount of alcohol is good for us. Rather than showing that X causes Y, most research simply says that X seems to be correlated with Y.
What’s more important is what your genetics are like, how stressful your life is, your lifestyle, what kind of social/support groups you have, etc.
We are just going to talk about the negatives related to your performance.
· It can lower your testosterone levels. Testosterone is a hormone that allows our muscles to repair and grow after a workout.
- It can negatively affect protein synthesis
- Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it will dehydrate you and deplete your energy levels.
- Since it makes you go to the bathroom more frequently, you lose vitamins and minerals that your body needs to perform.
- It can increase your body fat. Our muscles can’t use the empty calories provided from alcohol by converting it into glycogen, so our body converts it into fat for storage.
- Alcohol disrupts sleep and in turn negatively impacts our ability to repair our muscles. While you may sleep for an extended period of time when you’re drunk, you are not getting good, quality sleep. We need good, quality sleep for our body to release HGH. Alcohol can reduce secretion of HGH by as much as 70%
- There are a lot more health risks associated with constant/heavy drinking
On top of the negative health effects can have on our bodies, it can also lead us to make poor nutritional choices. We’ve all been there. We go out for a few drinks then we get hungry. Chances are you’ll order a pizza or fries instead of having a salad.
With so many negatives you would think we would all stop drinking, right?!
But drinking is fun. (There, I said it!) A high percentage of our population has an average of 1 to 3 drinks every week. Drinking has been part of our culture for centuries.
So what should you do? It depends on what your goals are. We’ll leave that up to you to decide.
Drinking can be done for pleasure, leisure, creativity and social connections. It shouldn’t be done because you are stressed, because it’s a habit/addiction, or because the news says it’s good for you.
Know when to have a drink and when not to.
Do you want to lose body fat and get leaner? You should probably reduce the amount of drinks you have or just stop drinking for a few weeks so you can get results.
Want to perform well during your workout the next morning? Try limiting your intake to one drink, rather than binging.
Now that you know more about what alcohol can do to your training and progress, you can make an educated decision. Cheers!