How Alcohol Can Affect Your Fitness Performance

Let’s talk about alcohol and its effect on performance and fitness levels!

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a casual exerciser, are in the gym every day, or compete in regular matches or events, anyone who cares about playing sport or keeping fit needs to understand the effects alcohol can have on their performance. It’s no secret that alcohol can trigger several diseases, ranging from liver disease to heart issues, in addition to the obvious weight gain and stunting of muscle development.

Alcohol is detrimental to sports performance because of how it affects the body during exercise.

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Alcohol is a diuretic, drinking too much can lead to dehydration because the alcohol makes your kidney produce more urine. Exercising soon after drinking alcohol can make this dehydration worse because you sweat as your body temperature rises. Combined, sweating and the diuretic effect of exercise make dehydration much more likely. You need to be hydrated when you exercise to maintain the flow of blood through your body, which is essential for circulating oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. Dehydration is not exactly the most welcoming environment for muscle development. Dehydration also leads to muscle fatigue.

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Alcohol interferes with the way your body makes energy. When you’re metabolising, or breaking down alcohol, the liver can’t produce as much glucose, which means you have low levels of blood sugar. Exercise requires high levels of sugar to give you energy. If your liver isn’t producing enough glucose, your performance will be adversely affected. Both of these effects are immediate which is why it’s not advised to exercise or compete in sport soon after drinking alcohol.

You can gain weight from alcohol, here’s how: alcohol is not a calorie-free substance and we tend to eat more junk when we drink. They go hand in hand. Drinking too much and eating calorific food will cancel out the health gains of the exercise your body would have benefited from.

Alcohol is high in sugar which means alcohol contains lots of calories (seven calories a gram). Alcohol can also slow down the amount of calories you’re able to burn through exercise. Because your body isn’t designed to store alcohol, it tries to expel it as quickly as possible. This gets in the way of other processes, including absorbing nutrients in food and burning fat.

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Muscle gain can be affected too. Alcohol can disrupt sleep patterns and growth hormones, vital for muscle growth, are released while you’re in deep sleep. It could also reduce the amount of testosterone, a hormone you need to gain muscles, that you have in your blood.

Here’s a list of common alcoholic beverages, and their calorie contents:

– Guinness draught – alcohol percentage (4.2%), carbs 1 bottle (10), calories (125)

– Corona Extra – 4.8%  – 13 – 147

– Heineken Beer – 5% – 12- 150

– Table Wine – 4% – 2 -80

The effects of alcohol on a person depend on the amount consumed and individual tolerance. Some studies show that a small amount of certain kinds of alcohol (red wine) may have a protective effect on the cardiovascular system, but even a few drinks can nullify your hard work by erasing the effects of your workouts, reducing your endurance, and compromising your mental fortitude. No drinking and training!

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