If you have ever had a happy hour turn into a hangover the next morning, you know that alcohol and working out don’t mix. BUT, can one night of drinking affect more than your pounding head in regard to your long term gym goals? Here are some effects alcohol has on our body:
- Alcohol has a direct link to decreased testosterone levels. You probably realize that testosterone helps in increasing energy and aggression for competition, but did you know a decreased level of testosterone also translates into a decrease in lean muscle mass?
- A shorter memory span and damage to the hippocampus (the part of the brain where all the learning takes place) has been linked with regular alcohol use. This particular effect linked to alcohol can make it difficult for the individual to concentrate, learn new techniques, and moves.
- Rest & Recovery. While it may be extremely easy to fall asleep while drinking or right after drinking, the natural progression in the sleep cycle may not follow through as it would if it were a sound healthy sleep. Drinking frequently will impair your sleeping ability on a nightly basis, bearing a detrimental impact on the body’s ability to produce the human growth hormone (linked to the building & maintenance of various body tissues) & glucose metabolism (how you use food for fuel).
- Weight gain. Drinking a large amount of alcohol translates into weight gain even with daily exercise. These calories happen to be empty calories and hence do not aid in energy provision- which leads to fat mass- not lean mass- gains. One shot of liquor, 4 oz. wine, & 12 oz. of light beer are all 100 calories. It takes about 10 minutes to burn 100 calories when exercising.
- Alcohol happens to be a diuretic, and the dehydration it leads to can take THREE days in recovery if a substantial amount is consumed. Dehydration is proven to decrease performance and increase risk of injury.
You can have a drink from time to time! If, however, you notice you are not seeing the results in the gym you have been aiming for, and you have drinks several nights a week, cutting back on the alcohol may help you to achieve your results faster.