Does Alcohol Affect Your Workouts?
Published: Wednesday, May 1, 2002
Updated: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 20:07
If you're a person who likes to drink, and you're trying to get into shape, then you need to read what this article has to say.
I know how hard it is in college to avoid those weekend parties, casual drinks on the weekdays, or even the occasional binge "I can't remember anything" weekend, but drinking alcohol won't help you get into shape. This sort of past time will actually have a negative affect on your fitness goals.
I can't be a hypocrite to say I never touch the stuff, because I have the occasional beer, but I don't take it to the extreme. What I mean by this is I will go out once a week at the most and won't get completely wasted in the process.
With this type of drinking you should be in the clear, if you are working out on a regular basis, as far as your body composition goes. If you want to get serious about getting in shape, and completely stop drinking instead of just cutting back, I guarantee you will see a positive change in your body.
Alcohol is a carbohydrate that is converted into a fatty acid instead of being turned into glucose like other types of carbohydrates. The result from this process is most likely extra fat storage, which is not what you're looking for, if you're trying to get into shape. This will put your fat metabolism on hold and you will just have to work harder to burn the same amount of fat than if you didn't drink.
As far as the "nutritional" facts on alcohol go, there are seven calories to every gram, a shot of vodka has around 90-100 calories, and a twelve ounce glass of beer has around 146 calories with around 13 grams of carbohydrates depending on the beer.
The primary reason why alcohol has a negative effect on your workout is the factor called dehydration. Dehydration makes it hard for the body to efficiently work (hence, you don't feel very good) and you end up with a hangover. This will result in a loss in strength, stamina, and the effectiveness of your over all workout. So if you want to be the best that you can be, (like before a big game) then you need to stay away from alcohol, especially the night before.
When it comes to performing anything athletic, the body needs to be at its optimal condition. When alcohol is consumed it impairs balance and coordination, since these are controlled by the central nervous system (which alcohol affects the CNS), the body is directly affected.
If your goals are to get into muscular shape, it's probably a good idea to stop drinking all together, for the greatest gains possible. Your body's testosterone levels are decreased when alcohol is consumed, and may take up to two weeks to get back to normal range, depending on how much, and how often you drink alcohol.
Lowering your testosterone level while trying to make gains in muscle mass, definition, strength, or even a faster recovery rate will have a very negative affect. You need to have your testosterone level as high as your body will naturally produce it in order to get the most out of the workout. So if you drink and have the goal of muscular fitness, then you're definitely selling yourself short.
Then the question comes up, "why do people feel more sexual when drinking if their testosterone level is lower than normal?" This is the result of the body wanting to level its natural chemistry out as even as possible, so when your testosterone is lowered, the body starts producing more LH hormone in its place, which triggers the same part of the brain as sex does.
If you can't stop drinking completely, there are some things that you can do to make the effects a little less severe. First of all if you are going out drinking, you should take a couple multi-vitamins before the drinking starts to help replenish your vitamins that you will lose from drinking alcohol. You want to take them before the drinking starts because the body will have a hard time digesting the vitamins with the alcohol.
When you start drinking you should match the alcohol with water, so if you have one beer then you should have one glass of water. This will help to keep your body hydrated. Then when you are ready to go to bed, try to drink at least 32 ounces of water, which will help rehydrate your body while you sleep, as well as help get rid of that hangover in the morning.
If you are anaerobic training (weight training), you should also have a time released protein shake before going to bed. This will help to keep your muscles from breaking down and will help with the rebuilding process that occurs while you sleep.
Alcohol will have a negative affect on your workout, but it's up to you to decide what kind of shape you want to be in, and exactly how important it is that you drink. If you really want to be in the best shape possible, alcohol can't be a regular part of your diet, but it can still be consumed in moderation and not drastically alter your body composition.
James Jacobsen is a fitness columnist for The Daily Barometer. He can be reached at email@example.com.