The real impact of alcohol on your health – it might surprise you.
What is the actual impact of alcohol on our health?
Alcohol is social, it’s used in celebrations, relaxation, or as a reward when a goal is reached. But what effects does it really have on you physically? How does it hinder your overall athletic performance?
1. Cancels Gains!
It’s after a workout or race and you want to celebrate, it’s deserved right? Maybe, it depends on what you want to get from all that hard work. Those drinks can completely cancel out any physiological gains, meaning it can and will decrease muscle build-up and growth.
Alcohol is extremely demanding and when consumed it demands that your body tend to it first before any food or nutrients. Your muscles will only absorb the processed alcohol and none of the food eaten during or after consumption. This will in turn lead to poor nutrition.
2. Affects Sleep
Sleep is also necessary for muscle growth and gain. Since alcohol robs your body of sleep, it decreases the production of HGH “human growth hormone” by as much as 70 percent. This decrease will inhibit your body’s ability to repair and grow stronger. Another important hormone that is demolished is testosterone which is also essential to development and recovery of your muscles.
Alcohol inhibits your ability to remember and retain new information. It’s unfortunate, but it’s not simply avoiding alcohol while learning. In fact most memory is solidified when you are no learning or concentrating, but rather in a state of relaxation, mostly during sleep. While you may feel that alcohol makes you sleep sounder, it actually affects the quality of your sleep and disrupts the sequence and duration of normal sleep. Even drinking up to six hours before you go to sleep will negatively affect your sleep cycle.
3. Dehydration & Depletion
Alcohol is a toxin that travels and invades every organ and tissue in your body. It robs these areas of much needed hydration and slows down your body’s ability to heal itself. Hydration is a key player to ensure optimal performance.
By disrupting the water balance in our muscle cells the body is altered and those cells can no longer produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is your muscles’ source of energy. ATP provides the fuel necessary for your muscles to contract. Another method alcohol reduces energy sources is by inhibiting gluconeogenesis, a process by which glucose is formed by other substances. So that protein shake or grilled chicken will be rendered useless.
Alcohol keeps your body from using fat as an energy source during exercise, so forget running off those calories the next day. It unfortunately won’t happen. So how long after a drink are you affected? Consuming five or more alcoholic beverages in one night can affect your brain and body activities for up to three days. Two consecutive nights of drinking five or more alcoholic beverages can affect brain and body for up to five days. Even if you don’t ‘feel’ it, it’s affecting you.
Each alcoholic beverage contains approximately 100-150 calories, empty calories at that. The body treats these calories as fat and converts the sugar straight to fat for storage.
Are there any benefits? In moderation some alcohol has been shown to have health benefits, such as heart health and clearing out your arteries. But this means moderation of 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men. What equals a drink: 12 oz. of beer; 4-5 oz. of wine; and 1.5 oz. of 80 proof hard liquor. That is not a lot. What if you wait until the weekend to consume the amount of alcohol in one day instead of daily? NO HEALTH BENEFITS!
As with anything moderation is key. And when trying to reach specific goals abstaining completely is most beneficial.