How Alcohol Hinders Your Athletic Performance


Tall, Cold, Refreshing or Dehydrating and Weighty?

A tall, cold refreshing beer or two at the end of a good workout hardly shows up on the scale as we as ramp up our training efforts going into fall competition.  Some of us may opt for red wine, under the guise that resveratrol is good for the heart and reduces inflammation.  For instance, a study by the NCAA found that 60% of student athletes believed alcohol had no effect on their athletic performance.   Clearly, the respondents didn’t know much regarding facts about drinking problems and how they affect us on so many levels  The reality is that alcohol’s effects really add up leading to the following performance failures. Image

The best post recovery drinks have a 3:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio.  The carbohydrate replaces glycogen, how energy is stored in the muscle, and protein aids in muscle recovery.  Beer has anywhere from 6-18 grams of carbohydrate and only 1 gram of protein and wine has just 5 grams of carbohydrate and no protein.

ImageAlcohol interferes with your body’s ability to rehydrate because it increases fluid loss through urine.  Your risk for the top 3: dehydration, heat illness and muscle cramping greatly increases.   Dehydration weakens the pumping force of your heart, impairs your ability to regulate body temperature and speeds up your rate of fatigue.  Avoiding excess the night(s) before along with proper hydration the day of will prepare you for a more successful event.  Remember that muscle is 75% fluid, blood is 90% fluid and a strong body is two-thirds fluid, cap it off.

failureThe effects of a binge can last up to 72 hours and include slowed reaction time, impaired precision, balance, hand-eye coordination, accuracy, strength, power, speed and endurance.  Concisely put, all gross and fine motor skills are negatively impacted.

failureYour rate of injury may increase as alcohol depresses your ability to fight infection.  It also leads to an increase in swelling when you are injured, delaying wound healing and muscle repair.

failureYour body’s ability to efficiently use fat as a fuel is reduced.  Since alcohol cannot be stored in body cells, it’s stored in the liver.  Your body will burn the alcohol first and then get around to burning fat later so your goal of increasing lean muscle mass and reducing body fat stalls.  While your weight may stay even by scale standards, your body composition deteriorates,  increasing drag weight.

failure Finally, alcohol increases your risk for vitamin and mineral deficiencies.    It adds calories, increases your appetite and interferes with sleep, another critical element in muscle recovery.

Raise your hand if you still believe alcohol doesn’t impact your athletic performance.

Categories: Sports Nutrition

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