The Effects of Alcohol on Performance and Recovery
Sometimes it seems so appealing to finish a Friday Night Lights Open workout and immediately crack open a cold one…. but we might want to reconsider. When it comes to our athletic performance and recovery, alcohol is likely not the best choice. But why though?
The liver does most of the work processing alcohol in our bodies; it breaks down and metabolizes toxins. But once alcohol enters our bloodstream via the stomach, it affects nearly every organ and process.
When we drink, our bodies focus all of its energy on detoxifying itself rather than things like muscle repair, healing, and growth (which are all a major concern when it comes to our athletic performance in general, as well as post-workout recovery!) Hint: this is also an important consideration for those of you concerned with weight loss….. If you are eating anything around the time you drink alcohol, your body is so focused on processing the alcohol that it’s NOT worried about metabolizing the fats and carbs you just ate…. And will likely store them. Yikes!
Not only that, alcohol thins the blood, kills brain cells, can have negative cardiovascular effects, and interferes with sleep (another crucial function in recovery). It also has negative effects on our mood.
So post-workout or post-competition, it’d be best to wait at least an hour after your workout to give your body a chance to rehydrate, refuel, take up protein, replenish electrolytes, etc. – rather than reaching for an ice-cold beer straight away. But the more time, the better (or honestly, maybe drink something else altogether…)
Plus, because not only does alcohol affect the rate of protein synthesis (aka your muscles’ growth and repair), but it is also shown to decrease levels of HGH (human growth hormone), which helps the body build muscle, which won’t help your athletic endeavors.
Additionally, alcohol is a diuretic, so it can lead to increased dehydration as your kidneys produce more urine. Any sort of dehydration is shown to have a negative impact on muscle firing, and you need to be hydrated to circulate oxygen and nutrients to your muscles effectively – and to control your body temperature.
We aren’t saying never drink again, but depending on what your athletic or weight loss goals are, consider whether the above facts are in alignment with what your goals are.