Alcohol vs Performance

Next Friday most of us (and YES, we do drink alcohol as well) go out and celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Of course, girls like us who work out a lot care about their shape and fitness. However, that doesn’t mean we want to pass on a wine on a day like this, right? Alcoholic beverages are said to be bad for your athletic performance and figure, but is this really true?

If your goal is to maximize your performance, you should abstain from alcohol entirely because it will hold you back. That means if you're training for an important race or you want to get in shape alcohol shouldn't be on your list. But let's read the facts that alcohol does to your performance:

1. Alcohol contains lots of calories

Alcohol is an often underestimated source of calories: 1 g of alcohol = 7 calories. To compare, consider that carbohydrates and proteins contain 4 calories/g, and fat a whopping 9 calories/g. This means 17 ounces (0.5 liters) of beer has more than 200 calories. A piña colada weighs in at nearly 400 calories due to the cream. To work off this amount of calories, you would have to run for about an hour.

2. Alcohol slows down your recovery

You are definitely not doing you or your body any favors if you drink a beer after your workout. The alcohol delays the process of restoring your glycogen stores (carbohydrate reserves). This has a negative impact on your recovery after intense physical exercise.

3. Alcohol dehydrates your body

Alcoholic beverages promote the excretion of water via your kidneys. Valuable salts are lost due to this increased need to urinate. Whenever you drink a glass of wine, follow it up with a glass of water.

4. Alcohol impacts your sleep

Consuming large quantities of alcohol has a negative impact on the quality and quantity of your sleep. A good night’s sleep is crucial for athletes looking to improve their performance because it gives your body the time it needs to rest and recover.

5. Alcohol weakens your immune system

The regular consumption of alcohol can weaken your immune system. Plus, it stimulates the release of the stress hormone cortisol. As the polar opposite of testosterone, this stress hormone breaks down muscle and inhibits the burning of fatty tissue.

At the same time, alcohol blocks the release of growth hormones. These are particularly important for recovering from a workout, torching fat and building muscle.

Alcohol is considered to be a luxury food and should be enjoyed in moderation. The common guidelines for moderate alcohol use without health risks are a maximum of 10 g of alcohol for women (⅛ l or 4.2 oz of wine) and 20 g for men (¼ l or 8.5 oz of wine, 0.33 l or 12 oz of beer) per day. But generally speaking, it is not a good idea to have a drink every day!