Everyone's human, no matter how dedicated you are to your fitness regimen. It's in our nature to want to let loose once in awhile, and having the casual drink remains one of the most popular vehicles to help you head to destination chill. Alcohol however, is an iffy subject. Many diets command dieters to stop consuming alcohol altogether, which isn't surprising since alcohol is high in carbohydrates and simple sugars. The (after)effects of drinking too much are also detrimental to your body, hampering your ability to workout.
But is alcohol really such a potent evil to your physique? Here are some answers.
ALCOHOL INDIRECTLY BREAKS DOWN MUSCLES
Muscles are built through protein synthesis, and it a key process that you cannot do without. When you drink, alcohol tends to suppress your body's ability to synthesise protein by 24%, and contrarily boosts muscle protein breakdown. Especially if you consume alcohol at a quick bar session after a post-work exercise stint, you are further boosting muscle breakdown, as workouts are anabolic by nature. If 24% seems insignificant, always remember the numbers stack up.
KNOW THE CALORIES
Even if you don't have the habit of calculating your macros, it is helpful to know just how many calories a drink contains. While proteins and carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram, alcohol contains 7 and is metabolised differently from other nutrients. Alcohol also lowers your body's fat oxidation rate at up to 73%, dramatically decreasing just how much fat your body can burn.
ALCOHOL IS METABOLISED EXTREMELY SLOWLY
Funny how you can get drunk pretty fast in comparison to the 48 hours it takes for alcohol to be completely absorbed in your body. Even if your hangover lasts a few hours the next morning, it can affect your physical aptitude for longer. Alcohol typically causes fatigue, poor hand-eye co-ordination, slow reaction time and it makes you weaker. While these effects aren't especially pronounced the day after, alcohol is still affecting your vital functions in other ways.
IT AFFECTS RECOVERY
Alcohol dehydrates you and causes a lack of important fluids and electrolytes in your body, alongside depleting your vitamin and mineral sources. Given that hydration is essential to muscle recovery, alcohol reverses all your hard-earned efforts. This makes drinking after a gruelling gym session a massive no, unless you prefer your efforts to go to waste.
IF YOU MUST DRINK...
Do it as far apart from your training session as possible. If you know you're heading for TGIF drinks at night, work out in the morning. Intersperse the time between your workout and your meal with as much protein as possible, and always exercise self-control. You do not want to lose your gains by letting too loose. While abstaining from alcohol is best, it's not the easiest. If you want to drink, moderation and pace (don't drink too fast) will go a long way, and keep hydrated with water even as you're drinking.
Recommended Articles For You
We speak to Irving Henson about his experiences with powerlifting, running a gym, and how he achieves his goals.
Know exactly what ingredients to look for in a pre-workout.
Incorporate these into your workout routine to really let those pecs shine.
- December 10, 2016
- Beatrice Bowers