Updated: May 20, 2019
So, you like a little drink. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but I guess the key word there would be little. Most people like a drink, but it generally stays little. There’s nothing really wrong with alcohol, so long as you drink in moderation. And if you are drinking in moderation, it shouldn’t really affect your fitness goals or your workouts. So, what’s the big deal with alcohol?
The first thing to understand about alcohol, is its content. There are 7 calories in every gram of alcohol. That’s almost twice as many calories that are in a gram of protein or carbs. So, when you’re thinking about your diet, that’s something you have to factor in. One drinking session can end up being a sizeable chunk of your calorific intake. Especially if you’ve been really sensible throughout the week, you can very easily throw that all away over the weekend. And what are you getting for that sizeable chunk? Well, there’s a reason why calories from alcohol are often described as wasted calories. It’s not very nutritious, is it? Plus, it doesn’t usually encourage healthy choices. I’m looking at you and your late-night kebabs. So, all those calories taking up your weekly allowance, and your body’s not getting a whole lot of nutrition from it either.
It can affect your workout and your gains. Now, if we ignore the obvious effect, which would be the hangover, (have you ever tried dragging yourself to the gym when you have a hangover? Good luck!) what other effects can alcohol have? It can dehydrate you, and it can affect your motor functions and reactions. Neither of which is great for exercise or sport. But there’s something less obvious going on too. Alcohol can severely affect your growth hormones and testosterone levels, especially the day after a drinking session. Some studies suggest that your testosterone levels can drop by as much as a third the following day, which is obviously going to negatively impact any gains or progress you’d be making during training. It’s not exactly going to be great for your recovery either, when your body’s having to deal with all that instead.
And then, there’s the real danger; addiction. It can very easily become an outlet you turn to, an outlet you need. Assess your relationship with alcohol, and if it isn’t a healthy, controlled one, or the people around you don’t think it is, it’s probably time to get some help. Because our bodies develop a tolerance to things, you can often end up drinking a lot more over time to get the same effects as before. Be very aware of this. If you can’t moderate or go without, you might have a serious drinking problem. There are places and people you can contact, like your doctor, Drinkline or even those close to you. And try to avoid binging, it’s a lot for your body to handle, and it’s often when we do our most stupid things, and end up injured.
There’s nothing really wrong with alcohol, just be aware of how it fits into your diet, calorie intake, and workout plan. And be more aware of your relationship with it. As soon as that relationship starts to seem dependent, it’s time to end it. Everything in moderation. See you next week.
Body Fuel Personal Fitness Trainer